(SOURCE: EmblemHealth, Aug. 24, 2012, news release)
SATURDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Packing nutritious and fun school lunches can help children achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Here are some tips for parents from Dr. William Gillespie, a pediatrician and chief medical officer at New York City-based EmblemHealth.
Presentation makes a difference in how much food appeals to kids, Gillespie noted. Children are more likely to eat things in smaller, bite-size pieces or slices. Slice sandwiches into four squares. Cut up an apple or create a fruit cup with pieces of different melons.
When it comes to warm foods in a thermos, try a healthy macaroni and cheese with whole-wheat pasta and some small broccoli florets. A three-bean chili with carrots and zucchini is another healthy option.
Make sure your child's lunch includes a good source of calcium, such as yogurt, smoothies, low-fat string cheese or low-fat milk.
Water is a better choice than sugary drinks such as juices and sodas. If your child likes something crunchy, give them baked chips, low-fat popcorn or whole-grain crackers.
Ask if your child's school has restrictions on what students are allowed to bring for lunch. For example, many schools don't allow peanut butter. Remember to use an ice pack to keep cold foods cold.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about childhood nutrition.
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