Healthy food choices for kids

September 15, 2009 12:00:43 PM PDT
For children to learn well, they have to eat well. But packing healthy, appealing school lunches is often a challenge for parents.

Registered nurse and healthcheck reporter ali gorman has some tips from a food expert - and mom.

Emily Rubin, a Jefferson University dietitian and the mother of twin boys, knows it's tough getting kids to eat healthy.

She says for a good lunch try to include as many of the four food groups as possible: a protein, a carbohydrate, a fruit, vegetable, and a dairy.

That last group, dairy, may be the easiest as most kids love yogurt.

It comes in bright colors and tons of flavors, some are drinkable and most are very convenient, like packets called Go-Gurts.

"They're really great to fit into a lunch bag, you don't need a spoon, you don't need a straw," Rubin said.

Cheese sticks are also handy ways to get calcium. Look for ones made with 2 percent or part skim milk.

For sandwiches, try sandwich thins instead of bread.

As for fruits and veggies, apples come already sliced and they won't turn brown.

Dried fruit also packs a lot a fiber and nutrients.

For veggies, kids like the crunch of carrots, but may not take to other vegetables, but a small cup of yogurt dip can help or even peanut butter.

These are also good afterschool snacks.

But for on the go, Rubin recommends parents pack their own kid-sized bags.

"They're close to 400 calories, they have 15 grams of fat, they're extremely high in sodium," Rubin said.

Rubin also says having kids help pick food for lunch or snacks makes it more likely they will eat it.

And healthy eating habits that start in childhood are more likely to last a lifetime.

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