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Packing A Healthy Lunch For Your Children

kids sitting at a school lunch table, smilingInterview of Dr. John Weisberg by Wilmington, NC Star-News on August 13, 2017

Packing a child’s school lunch can make all the difference in his or her school performance and behavior, said Dr. John Weisberg, who owns Seaside Wellness Center with his wife, Daryl Weisberg. Fresh and raw foods have the chemical makeup to spur children forward and processed, commercial foods could end up doing the opposite, he said.

Weisberg, a chiropractor, said he is in the organic, granola camp that will always oppose the soda machine at school and pizza lunches in the cafeteria.

“We always packed our children’s lunches in the 1980s and we feel even stronger about that now with grandkids,” Weisberg said. “We teach the patients who come to us for care that it is worth the extra money to shop organic if you can.”

The best things to pack are raw: fruit, vegetables, and salads with an oil dressing. It is best to acclimate children to a raw palate and get them used to the taste of bitter greens. In a lunchbox, also include a protein like boiled eggs, chicken breast or fish.

“Put things in your children’s diet that aren’t kiddie things — the kiddie food market is huge and parents can get sucked in easily looking for convenience,” he said.

This idea will help families eat better dinners too. Creating healthy dinners that are not specifically geared toward children will provide leftover protein and vegetables that can be placed in a lunchbox making it convenient and healthy.

“At dinner make some tuna or salmon, then save the leftovers and serve them a Caesar salad with chicken or fish in it the next day — that’s what we advocate,” Weisberg said.

Do Pack:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Boiled eggs
  • Leftover chicken and fish
  • Salads with an oil dressing and herbs
  • Bitter greens
  • Organic cheese sticks
  • Yogurt
  • Cottage cheese
  • Trail mix
  • Pecans and walnuts
  • Dried cranberries and raisins
  • Homemade cookies
  • Oatmeal
  • Organic chips
  • Organic fruit snacks

Dairy foods are encouraged in the lunchbox too. Cottage cheese, yogurts, and organic cheese sticks always work.

After including vegetables, fruit, a protein, and a dairy, be sure to send along a nutty snack, like a trail mix, and dessert. Get kids involved in baking cookies or brownies so they can get their hands dirty in the ingredients and incorporate healthy ingredients in them. Dessert is great in a lunchbox as long as it does not makeup half the lunch, Weisberg said.

And don’t do all the work for children either.

Weisberg said getting children to peel their own oranges and bananas will help them experience food culture in a way that will translate into adulthood. Obviously, if a child is too young to eat an apple or other fruit without it being cut, definitely slice those fruits for them.

What Should Parents Stay Away From?

Weisberg said there are a few chemicals in commercial, processed food that are harmful to children.

Meanwhile, he recommends avoiding anything in a bag dusted with flavored dust — such as Cheetos or Doritos.

“These chemicals can be addictive and children can’t stop eating them,” he said. “It can lead to obesity because you are more likely to finish the whole bag rather than have just a few.”

This is where shopping organic can come in handy. Weisberg suggests purchasing chips and other salty foods in the organic world where the aforementioned chemicals are left out.

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