Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Packing a Lunch for Small Kids

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Do you pack a lunch for your preschooler? Or do you rely on the food provided at child care? Because of the economy, more and more child care centers are requiring parents to provide food for their children. In the January issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association researchers at the University of Texas at Austin studied sack lunches sent from home for pre-schoolers aged 3-5 years old.

I hear parents complain all the time about the quality and lack of nutrition of the food served to our children in schools and in childcare. But this study may change your mind. Researchers found that the sack lunches sent from home did not regularly provide adequate nutrients for the growth and development of young children.

They found that more than 50% of the lunches provided less than minimum amounts of calories, carbs, Vitamin A, calcium, iron, and zinc, and 96% of the lunches provided less than the minimum recommended amounts of dietary fiber. The lunches did contain 114% of the recommended amount of sodium.

Most parents understand the importance of lunch, but they struggle with packing nutritious foods that their children will eat. This underlies the importance of offering new foods on a regular basis to our children so they will accept a variety of foods. I realize that all of this is "easier said than done" and I personally struggle introducing new foods to my 19 month old son. The more exposures the child gets, the better. Encourage a "thank you" bite so they can taste that new food without refusing it untouched.

Let me know how you are able to introduce new foods to your kids and what nutritious foods you pack into your children's lunches.
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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