Q: With school back in session, what are some healthy items to pack in my child’s lunch?
A: In general, the more natural the product, the healthier it is. Packed lunches of peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, together with raw vegetables like carrots or celery, work best. Meals balanced in protein (meats or nuts) and carbohydrates (fruits and veggies) are the healthiest combination and provide children with energy along with much-needed nutrients for the remainder of the day. Water is the healthiest beverage for lunch. Try to avoid sugar-filled drinks such as juices, sports drinks or sodas. Examples of healthy lunches are: 1. Whole-grain bread or crackers with low fat cheese, apple, nuts like sunflower seeds, and raw veggies. 2. Rolled deli meat with lettuce and low fat cheese, grapes, raw veggies, nuts. Try to avoid highly processed foods like Cheetos and Lunchables. For more ideas, check the online site www.webmd.com for “fresh brown bag ideas” or parenting.com for “quick healthy lunch ideas.”
— Dr. Nita Shumaker, pediatrician, Galen Medical Group; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society
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