Well it’s officially Back to School time, and with that brings the challenge of making lunches!
As moms, we want to provide our children with not only nourishing lunches, but lunches they will actually eat, and because we’re busy moms, lunches that also don’t take up a ton of time!!
As a mom and Nutritionist I know the struggles families face when it comes to packing healthy meals for school!
I know how hard it is when you pack healthy snacks for your child, only to see them come back home again in the lunch box - untouched. One year, my son likes cut up green peppers, the next year he suddenly doesn’t like them anymore - What??
A big concern of mine is the amount of processed foods that make their way into kids lunch boxes.
Now, my sons lunches are never perfect, and yes we do purchase certain granola bars and the occasional treats, BUT what I am talking about is when the majority of a child’s lunch comes from pre-packaged foods that are full of preservatives, colouring and flavourings.
These chemicals will not help your children focus, and are setting them up for cravings for these types of food, AND will also impede their choices for real, whole food.
To help them focus, they need stable blood sugar and real, whole foods to fuel their brain. This is where WHAT we pack for their lunches comes into play. Now, before you throw your hands up in despair, thinking that your picky eater would never eat what I’m suggesting, hold tight - I’ve got your back with this one!! Here’s the thing, picky eaters usually aren’t born that way - it has a lot to do with the flavour enhancers, sugars, and chemicals that our children’s processed foods are loaded with, not the whole foods!
Children’s foods are so loaded with chemicals and sugars, their body’s start to expect the chemical reaction and intense taste every time they eat something. If the food you are providing them does not offer that chemical/sugar reaction, then it often ends up on the NO list! But hang tight - there is a way to help re-wire them!
The challenge is to eliminate the processed options and work with your children on what they DO want in their lunches without offering the flavoured and food-colouring foods. This brings me to Tip #1!
TIP #1 Create a Lunch Box Plan, and let them choose!
This is the first step. The old is not an option anymore, so you will need a lunch box ideas chart to help them choose the items they want in their lunches. Either use this form (above), or if you are a Pinterest mom, sit down with your children and scroll through healthy lunch ideas and make a list! This list will be one of your most valuable healthy eating tools!
If you were to work with me one on one for your own personal health goals, I would help you choose foods that you like, in order to help you eat the right foods. The same thing needs to happen in your home around your children’s lunches. Having a plan makes you way more likely to stick to it. It also makes planning for your week way easier when you have the right foods available!! Gone will be the processed foods that can decrease their ability to focus, and offer ZERO nutritional value!
Not only do Zero Nutrition value foods NOT give your child the nutrients they need, but they actually ROB your child’s body of its stored nutrients in order for these processed foods to be broken down and eliminated. This sets your child up for catching every sickness going around the classroom!
TIP #2 Plan Your Shopping.
This is just as important as number one, and should be based on the healthy lunch choices each week. The trick is to create routine around what day you grocery shop. After you’ve planned your healthy menu, do your weekly shopping. It helps to do this on the same day each week. Don’t worry about getting it perfect! The moment you start planning for healthier and less processed meals and snacks, and shop for those particular foods, the sooner your entire family will start eating more of the right foods!
TIP #3 Do weekly Prep.
I know you feel that you don’t have time for this, but doing this will ultimately create more time for you! This is the step most families miss, and it’s really the one that determines if your child is getting a lunch full of pre-packaged food, or a healthy lunch!
I get it, the BIGGEST challenge I see in most families when it comes to healthy eating is a total lack of time. That's why so many families are eating WAAAAAY too much processed foods - because it’s easier.
But, in my opinion that is a huge contributor to why we have so many issues with attention deficit disorders, immune and gut health issues, and even diseases and illnesses that have become so prevalent since the onset of convenience foods.
FOOD IS THE FUEL FOR YOUR BODY, JUST LIKE GASOLINE IS THE FUEL FOR YOUR CAR. Everything you put into your body determines how it will function.
Once we’ve planned for the right foods and shopped for the right foods, the final step is to prep the right foods. I suggest a non-negotiable weekly time slot for prep time.
Create a routine around getting your children’s healthy lunch set up for the week, which WILL reduce stress and time in helping them eat the right foods!
Taking one hour per week will make the rest of your week run soooo much more smoothly! AND you’ll be instilling the importance of nutrition into your children, which I can’t even begin to describe the life-long benefit that will have for them!
I can’t tell you how many clients I see that are suffering from poor health and/or from being overweight, because they are eating the same way they learned to eat as children. Now, they’re forced to change the way they eat due to health concerns, and they’re finding it incredibly hard to change those habits. Make the changes now while you can!
So what will you be prepping?
Here are my favourite foods to prep for healthy lunches:
I know, this is a lot of information! Revisit the steps above as needed and make a commitment to get started right away. If you’re anything like me, you can’t put it off - otherwise it will just sit on the ‘good intentions’ shelf and never actually get done.
Make a list of healthy options your children want in their lunch, plan your lunch menu each week, shop for the items you need, and set aside 60 minutes a week to get your prep done. I promise you, you will be so proud of the healthy lunches you are sending your children to school with, and if they’re helping, they will be proud too!
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Need some support? Connect with me HERE and we'll set up a time for a phone call or Skype!
Until next time!
May Anne xo
May Anne Jordens-LaFlamme is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and the owner of "Wellness with May Anne." She is passionate about helping women look and feel their best, so they can live a more fulfilling life - without dieting, deprivation, relying on willpower or cooking separate meals for the family.