By Dr. Stephanie Walsh
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

With approximately 180 days in a school year, coming up with enticing lunches can be hard, especially as the year goes on. If you have a picky eater, your job is even harder. From adding a love note to their lunchbox to grocery shopping tips, below are some ways to keep your sandwich-swapping children happier (and healthier) than ever.

Take your child to the grocery store
Involve children in the selection and preparation of foods.  Teach them to make healthy choices by providing opportunities to select foods based on colors and variety. Fill up your cart by going around the outside of the store. The inside aisles are typically home to less healthy items.

Make a rainbow
Have a color contest to see if your child can eat every color in the rainbow in his or her lunches that week. Again, take your child shopping to pick out the colors.

There’s more to life than a sandwich
Replace the standard sandwich with something similar but more exciting like a wrap or pita-pocket bread. Wrap lunch meat around a veggie or cheese. You can even make a “sandwich on a stick” where you layer cubes of cheese, turkey, ham, or chicken breast, and veggies such as cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.

Love your lunchbox
Your child will look forward to packing his or her lunch if they love their lunchbox. For example, children love the compartments that a bento lunch box offers. This also helps with portion control and illustrates the different colors and that make up a healthy lunch. Another great way to bring a smile to their face at lunch is to put love notes in your child’s lunch box. Tell them how much you love them and how proud you are of them.

Don’t forget dessert
Make sure your child gets to choose a dessert to enjoy as part of lunch, such as a pudding cup or a slice of homemade quick bread such as banana, zucchini, or carrot.

Stephanie Walsh, M.D., is medical director for wellness at Chidlren’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

 

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.