By Dr . Kimra Ross , Freeman Pediatrician
When our kids are at school , we want them to follow the same healthy eating examples we set at home . Whether we ’ re packing their lunch or checking the school lunch menu online , we can have a say in the matter .
Foods packed with nutrients — containing zero or limited sugars , saturated fats or added salts — are considered “ nutrient dense ,” and these foods provide kids with the nutrients they need while limiting overall calories .
Packing lunches with nutrient-dense foods and keeping an eye out for them on the school cafeteria menu can help set the stage for a healthy and productive school day .
Aim For More of These Proteins . Choose seafood , lean meats and poultry , eggs , beans , peas , soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds .
Fruits . Encourage your child to eat a variety of fresh , canned , frozen or dried fruits . Look for canned fruit that says “ light ” or packed in its own juice on the label – this generally means it ’ s lower in added sugar . Keep in mind that 1 / 4 cup of dried fruit counts as one serving of fruit .
Vegetables . Serve a variety of fresh , canned , frozen or dried vegetables . Choose peas or beans , along with colorful vegetables each week .
Grains . Choose whole grains , such as wholewheat bread or pasta , oatmeal , popcorn , quinoa , or brown or wild rice .
Nutrient-Dense Foods Score An Help your child take healthy eating habits along to school each day
Healthier Dairy Options . Encourage your child to consume fat-free or lowfat dairy products , such as milk , yogurt and cheese . Fortified soy beverages also count as dairy .
Limit Or Avoid These Added sugar . These include brown sugar , corn sweeteners , corn syrup and honey and are commonly found in breakfast cereals , sodas and many drinks marketed to children . When you select fruit juice , be sure it ’ s 100 % juice , without added sugars .
Saturated fats . Saturated fats come mainly from animal food sources such as red meat , hot dogs , poultry , dairy , fast foods , and desserts like cake and ice cream .
Salt . Processed foods like pizza and canned soup contain high amounts of sodium . But salt also hides in plain sight in sandwich breads and lunchmeat , for example .
Encourage snacking on fruits and vegetables instead of chips and cookies . Check nutrition labels and look for products low in sodium .
Visit freemanhealth . com / pediatrics for more information about pediatric services at Freeman Health System . For more back to school tips , visit healthychildren . org for more American Association of Pediatrics recommendations . www . freemanhealth . com / peds
6 • SEPTEMBER 2023 • www . OfficialKidsMag . com