Saturday, August 8, 2015

Plan Children's Meals That Make the Grade

Two girls searching through a packed lunch.
Two girls searching through a packed lunch. iStock

(HealthDay News) -- Poor nutrition can translate to poor performance in school, experts say.

Allison Bourgraf, a clinical dietitian at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, offers these tips about healthy diets for schoolchildren in a medical center news release:

Give children a healthy breakfast, but don't feel limited to traditional breakfast foods. It's most crucial that children eat foods that are rich in nutrition such as fruits, high-fiber grains and dairy products.

For example, a grilled-cheese sandwich can be an appropriate breakfast item along with 100 percent fruit juice. Traditional breakfast items are fine, too: Whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, for instance, or yogurt and berries with low-fat granola.

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  • Bourgraf also recommends eggs, whole-wheat toast and fresh fruit; eggs, whole-wheat bagels, cheese and low-fat milk; or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with low-fat milk.

    As for lunches, Bourgraf points out that kids who eat healthy breakfasts and lunches are more alert throughout the day. A balanced lunch can also prevent kids from slumping in the afternoon.

    Bourgraf offers these other suggestions about healthy eating for kids:

    For guidelines, go to, which recommends that fruits and vegetables make up half of lunches and whole grains make up at least half of grains. Include lean protein and low-fat dairy as well, and limit the fats and sweets.

    Offer variety to kids so they won't get picky. Sandwiches, for example, can be made of bagels, tortillas, English muffins or pita. Also, try grabbing children's attention with foods of different colors.

    Talk to your kids about healthy eating and encourage them to shop with you and make their own lunches. This kind of education can teach them to embrace nutritious meals.

    Send easy-to-eat fruit with your child to school: Try grapes, apple wedges and strawberries. Yogurt or peanut butter can be used for dipping.

    Watch out for sugary drinks, even juice, and drinks that include caffeine. Encourage kids to drink water, either plain or with sugar-free flavoring.

    More information

    For more about healthy school lunches, see the Center for Science in the Public Interest.


    -- Randy Dotinga

    SOURCE: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, news release, Aug. 5, 2014

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