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As you and your children prepare to go back to school, it can be a hectic time. From school supply shopping and trying to get in last minute family trips, there is a lot of planning to do. But don’t let nutrition fall by the wayside – packing a healthy lunch is essential to make sure your child is focused throughout the day. Here are a few tips to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need.

Team Effort

The first step in preparing a well-balanced meal your child will enjoy is getting them involved in the process. Sit down together and offer healthy options from each food group, and let them be involved in the final decision about what goes in the lunchbox. They will appreciate being a part of the decision-making process, which can lead to less resistance and acceptance.

Keep It Natural

When away at school for the entire day, kids rely on snacks for energy and to keep them focused. However, pre-packaged snacks tend to include high levels of sugar, sodium, and fats. Choose to make their snacks yourself, or together as a team, and feel good knowing they are getting proper nutrients. Snacks like apples slices with peanut butter or veggie sticks will help them maintain a well-balanced diet. For more “fun” options, try making your own granola bars or cookies with alternative sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, or even fruit!

Balance is Key

 A balanced diet includes all the food groups and is essential for younger children to help them grow and stay focused throughout the school day. By adding portions of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you can help make sure your child is getting proper nutrition even when you are not around. Hard-boiled eggs, beans, and nuts can be great alternatives for protein, just be aware of potential allergy regulations at the school. With the new school year starting up, use this as a chance to reflect on and improve eating habits. Educating your child on the topics of nutrition, food moderation, and portion control at an early age will help with overall long-term health.