With children returning to school after a long winter break, Dr. Vidhya Viswanathan, a pediatric endocrinologist at Advocate Children's Hospital, provides seven tips to keep your child's lunch healthy and fun:
1) Use a whole wheat tortilla: Add whole grains to our child's lunch by using a whole wheat tortilla or sandwich wrap instead of white sandwich bread.
2) Cut sandwiches into fun shapes: Jazz up the look of your child's sandwich by using a cookie cutter to cut the cheeses, meats and bread into fun shapes like a flower or star.
3) Make ants on a log: Create this healthy and classic snack by filling a celery stick with low-fat cream cheese or peanut butter and placing raisins on top.
4) Create a smiley snack: Make your child smile at lunch by spreading peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese on a rice cake and use dried fruit for the eyes, nose and mouth.
5) Pack green veggies: Find individual serving veggie dips at the grocery store and pack alongside their favorite green vegetables.
6) Use portion control: Pack your child's lunch in a bento box, a container that's divided into compartments for built-in portion control. This will help you plan a well-balanced meal.
7) Involve your child: Teach your child about the value of nutrition by encouraging them to help you prepare their lunch. This gives them a chance to voice what they do or don't like. They also may be more likely to eat the lunch if they are proud of the work they put into making it.
• Children's health is a continuing series. This week's article is courtesy of Advocate Children's Hospital. For more information, visit www.advocate childrenshospital.com