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Back to school: Healthy lunch line, after-school snacks

Published On: Aug 12 2014 10:43:29 AM CDT
School lunch pack file 2

©iStockphoto.com/Juanmonino

By Mayo Clinic News Network

Mayo Clinic Health System registered dietitian Diane Dressel offers parents snack options that meet caloric standards, while also taking into account portability, perishability, food allergies and dietary restrictions. Dressel says, “What better time to get kids into healthy eating patterns than at a young age?” and encourages any snack idea to include fruits or vegetables.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Grapes and pretzels
  • Apples and string cheese or baked chips
  • Carrots and fat-free dip
  • Yogurt with strawberries or blueberries

Mayo Clinic dietitian Katherine Zeratsky, offers additional tips. Zeratsky says that while you can't go through the school lunch line with your child, you can offer some guidance ahead of time about making healthy choices.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers recommendations for its “Smart Snacks in Schools” proposal, including limiting in-school snacks to 200 calories a day.

"You can talk to them about all the different food groups and make sure they’re getting fruits and vegetables, some rich source of protein, something starchy to keep them fueled. All those are just great opportunities."  

As far as after-school snacking goes, Zeratsky suggest putting healthier foods out in the line of sight, such as a bowl of fruit.

"If kids are on their own and making independent food choices, having available to them healthy choices, or maybe picking a special drawer in the refrigerator, all the things in this drawer, you don’t need to ask mom or dad." 

For parents with student athletes, remind kids to drink enough water to stay hydrated, perhaps even have them carry a water bottle. Zeratsky says it's also wise to remember their extra physical activity may require more fuel.

"Another thing is, you might want to consider packing them an extra snack, whether it be granola, cheese and crackers, some fruit to fuel before their event or practice because it’s probably been a few hours since lunchtime.”

If your child must travel for sports, it's also a good idea to send along a healthy snack for after their event.

Source: http://newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/back-to-school-lunch-line-and-after-school-snack-choices#more-48322