Packing the Healthy Lunch for Your Child
When my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes just before the last school year started my first thought was “I know those school lunches are packed with carbs – how am I going to keep her healthy?” Well, that answer quickly peeked out when she said she would rather have cold lunches anyway. The school is really great about getting me a carb count for each lunch that is served, but
that counts on her only eating what she is allowed to eat. If she is hungry she will eat more and that causes many problems. The good thing is that I can easily correct this at dinner time – but that is still 6 hours of high blood sugars! I learned how to pack healthy lunches for any appetite and I would like to share some with you now.
The first thing to keep in mind is your child’s carbohydrate intake. A lot of overweight children are that way because so many school and packed lunches contain high carbs. My daughter is allowed 30 carbs at breakfast, a 15 carb snack, 35 carbs at lunch, another 15 carb snack, then 45 carbs at dinner, with a 15-20 carb bedtime snack. So for 35 carbs that is usually a slice of bread, a tub of pudding, and peanut butter on the bread. I will sometimes include some string cheese or turkey if she will be very hungry, which can be put back into the fridge if she didn’t eat it. You should speak to your pediatrician or family doctor about how many carbs your child needs to grow healthy and try to keep it around that amount. Protein is more filling and less likely to be converted into fat if your child eats too much of it.
Peanut butter and honey is another delicious alternative, 1 tbsp of honey has 17 carbs so combine that with a slice of bread and 2 tbsp of peanut butter and you have a 35 carb meal. Again, add some turkey or chicken, a hot dog (Oscar Meyer makes them cooked so they can be eaten cold), or string cheese to keep your child from getting too hungry.
Often she will enjoy leftover turkey loaf slices. To get her carbs we get chips (12-15 carbs per bag or tub) and a small dessert of pudding or she can get a milk from the cafeteria and have a tootsie roll.
The thing to keep in mind when packing your children’s lunches is to keep a variety – not always sandwiches and not always chips – and read the labels. Your child needs carbs and calories to grow, but too many and you run into childhood obesity problems. If you pack your child’s lunches and pay attention to what you are packing then any problems with your child’s weight or development can more intelligently be discussed with their physician. Sack lunches are always better than school lunches because you control what is eaten – but the occasional hot lunch is not a problem, just like the occasional meal at McDonald’s or Wendy’s. Don’t forget the “I’m proud of you” or “I love you note” to remind your young child that you are thinking of them!