The number one piece of advice mother and nutrition expert Leanna Cappucci gives to parents to increase the value of their children’s lunches: Feed them real food.
“If it has more than five ingredients or an ingredient you can't pronounce, put it back on the shelf,” she said.
She invited me into her Valrico home to show me how she gets her three school-aged kids to make healthy choices.
According to the America Heart Association, one in three kids is overweight. Only about 40 percent of our kids get enough exercise and less than one percent of our kids eat the proper food.
Where can we all begin to change that last stat? First, Leanna says, give the kids some of the power by letting them tell you what they will eat. She has a chart on the wall of her kitchen. Then make them pick one or two choices from each category.
“Every lunch contains a protein, a fat, a vegetable and a fruit,” she said. “By creating a list like this that they've agreed on, you now take away the ability for them to say, ‘I don't want to eat that.’”
Stay away from condiments like ketchup and mayo.
“High-fructose corn syrup is almost always the first ingredient,” she said.
Replace sugary drinks and foods with healthier substitutes.
“There's a brand we buy that sweetens with not only fruit juice but vegetable juice,” she said. “It’s a great way to sneak vegetables in.”
And choose good fats over bad fats, such as olives or nuts.
“I buy them (seasoned with) sea salt. You don't want to use iodized salt. But the sea salt is great. It packs micronutrients that we’re deficient in anyway. Things like magnesium.”
What does she do for sweets? Macaroons sweetened with maple syrup instead of sugar or dark chocolate. For more healthy tips from Leanna go to:
Sarah Ballantyne (the Paleo Mom) article on lunch planning:
Paleo on the go (prepared meal delivery)