Children who are healthy and well nourished are better able to complete the day physically and mentally. Single mothers may encourage their children to consume healthy foods and beverages by involving them in the decision making.
Educate Your Children about Health
It’s important to educate your children about the importance of health issues. If your child learns from an early age about healthy eating, it’s likely to be something your child will keep with them for the rest of their life. You could literally be saving your child from obesity/weight related issues (both physical, mental, and medical) in the future IF you instill in your child the importance of eating the right kind of foods.
One easy way to teach your child about healthy eating is to use a simple game called The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is a game single mothers can use to combine discussions of healthy living with family reading time, using the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
This book/game will:
- Teach children that apples, plums, pear, oranges, and strawberries are fruits, and encourage them to name some others.
- Talk to them about how fruits help the body.
- Teach them that it is important to stop eating when they are full (when the caterpillar overeats he gets a stomachache, so they shouldn’t either).
Parents are encouraged to read the book to and with their children daily, from they are babies. This should foster a love for books and teach them to eat healthy at the same time.
Tips for Packing a Healthy School Lunch for Kids
Children consume between 35% and 50% of the calories they intake daily while at school. Now sometimes it’s hard to get children to eat their lunches. I know it certainly was a problem for me — mom used to hand us peanut butter and jam sandwiches every single day and I grew to detest such sandwiches. However, there are some things parents can do to ensure their children EAT a healthy lunch while at school.
To ensure kids are eating healthy meals, parents should:
Mix it Up
Pack children’s lunch boxes with foods from the various food groups. This ensures a more balanced eating experience while providing variety
Make the Switch
Substitute whole wheat breads for white bread, for additional fiber. In addition, exchange fatty meats with low-fat lean turkey or chicken breast.
Hold the Mayo
Skip mayonnaise, which is high in fat, and use something like mustard which is more flavorful and has fewer calories.
Give it a Second Chance
Combine leftovers from dinner, such as salad, rice, pasta, chicken, and other healthy foods, in a dish, and create a new meal.
Keep it Simple
Packaged convenience foods, like soda, chips, or cookies, should be avoided. They tend to add excess sugar, fat, sodium, and calories, and can cause an afternoon ‘crash’.
Basics for a Healthy Lunch Box
The following should be included, instead:
- One serving of vegetables or a salad, and one serving of fresh, canned, or dried fruit.
- One serving of either low-fat or fat-free milk or other dairy product, like low-fat cheese sticks, one cup yogurt, or cottage cheese.
- One serving of meat, chicken, eggs, fish, beans, peanut butter, or another protein food source.
- A healthy drink like water or 100 percent juices.
Healthy Lunch Ideas
These are some suggestions for making of healthy lunches for your children.
- Substitute whole wheat bread for white bread. It has more fiber and is more filling.
- Try whole wheat pita or flatbread or tortilla wraps that can be quickly turned into sandwich swirls.
- Substitute lean turkey or chicken breast for bologna, pastrami, salami, or corned beef.
- Sneak vegetables like cucumbers, lettuce, or shredded cabbage between slices of ham or lean turkey on a sandwich or in a wrap.
- Use peanut butter moderately, since 2 tablespoons provide about 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.
- Try using a thinner layer of peanut butter and substituting jelly with banana or thin apple slices.
- Substitute reduced fat mayonnaise for the high-fat variety, or skip it all together and try mustard which has more flavor and fewer calories.
- Make a colorful salad. Begin with dark green for the base then add the brighter vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers.
- Make the salad a main meal by including a lean protein such as hard boiled eggs, beans, or grilled chicken.
- Pack low-fat or fat-free dressing in a separate container, and instruct the kids to put it on the salad when they are ready to eat.
- Instead of washing and chopping vegetables and preparing the salad herself, the single mother could purchase bags of precut carrots or lettuce, or make an extra amount of salad for dinner and pack the leftovers for lunch next day.
Easy Entrées (main meals)
- Prepare a cold pasta salad from whole wheat noodles leftover from the previous night’s meal, and put it into a portable container.
- Combine plain brown rice with canned beans or shredded lean meat for a high dose of protein and fiber.
- Pack hummus with fresh vegetables and whole wheat pita triangles or flatbreads for dipping.
- Combine low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese with carrots, fresh berries, cherry tomatoes, or melon, for a calcium-rich, high-protein lunch.
- Pack 100 percent juices – which have 100% juice – instead of juice drinks, which have only about 10% juice and a lot of sugar. The labels will inform about the percentage of juice included.
- Water and low-fat milk are said to be the best drinks for children. They can be frozen, which helps to keep foods in the lunch box cool, and will usually be defrosted and ready for drinking by lunch time.
- Substitute baked potato or corn chips for traditional fried chips.
- Pack ¼ cup of salt-free, dry-roasted almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts to provide kids with a dose of heart-healthy essential fatty acids. Nuts are high in calories.
- Try a low-fat or light yogurt instead of the full-calorie types advertised for children. To avoid artificial sweeteners, try fat-free plain yogurt mixed with fresh fruits.
- Choose whole grain granola bars that are low in fat and sugar (below 1g of saturated fat per serving, and no more than 35% sugar by weight. To calculate the percentage of sugar per serving, divide the grams of sugar by the gram weight of one serving and multiply the result by 100).
- Aim to make snack treats occasional rather than everyday items. A small serving of animal crackers are lower in fat and sugar than regular cookies, brownies, doughnuts, and other baked goods.
A Quick Lunch in Reduced Time
- Combine things that don’t require preparation. For example, a whole piece of fruit, a low-fat yogurt, individual packs of baby carrots, and sliced turkey wrapped in a tortilla makes a great balanced lunch.
- Save time by packing leftover rice, chicken, beans, salad, and other healthy options into lunch containers at dinner time.
- When choosing pre-packaged lunches, aim for those with a few hundred calories and the least amount of saturated fat, sodium, and transfat.