Monday, September 5, 2016

6 Lunchbox Lessons for Back to School

By Guest Writer Jessica DeLuise of Eat Your Way to Wellness LLC

You can't control who your kids talk to at school, what they learn, or even, if they are paying attention in class. What you can control is what they are bringing and eating for lunch. Here are six tips and a new lunchbox combo to try for your kids.

But first here are some facts... 

Childhood obesity more than doubled in past 30 years, with more than one third of children in 2012 being obese (according to the CDC). And, if you’re thinking that your child may grow out it, think again. The CDC estimates children and adolescents who are obese, even as early as age 2, are more likely to be obese as adults, increasing their risk for heart disease, type two diabetes, stroke, cancer, multiple myeloma, Hodgkin's lymphoma, and osteoarthritis. Starting healthy habits and being a healthy role model for your kids, can most certainly save their lives! Lunch is an easy way to start. Here are our team’s tips to make it easier for you to make healthy choices for your kid’s lunches (and yours, too!)

6 Lunchbox Lessons for Back to School

1. Choose REAL Food. Choose at least 3-4 food groups to include in your child's lunch everyday.  Example: turkey (free of preservatives) sandwich on whole grain bread, carrot sticks and apple slices.

This one seems easy but when you begin to flip those packages over on your deli meat, wraps, crackers, or trail mixes, you’ll notice they may be loaded with added sugar or preservatives. Additives, “flavor”, and most ingredients you can’t recognize or pronounce are cause for concern. Many can cause heart disease, rashes, electrolyte abnormalities, inflammation, or cancer. Choose 100% whole grains, whole fruits and veggies, meat cooked at home as opposed to deli meat, and real dairy foods (not "cheese products” such as american cheese).

2.  Fill Half of Your Lunchbox with Fruits and Veggies.  No, potato chips don't count (see the USDA guidelines and! Choose slices of vegetables or whole fruits. Fresh fruit, as opposed to dry fruit or fruit juices and items that are balanced in sugar, fiber, and calories.

3. Get Kids Feedback. If your kids won’t eat what you are sending with them than that’s no good. If they want pizza, give them pizza! Try making a healthier version by using a 100% whole wheat pita. Maybe try tomato or pizza flavored hummus instead of tomato sauce.  Top with real cheese and lots of veggies (peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, broccoli, and onions). Voila'! Food restrictions can lead to behavioral issues. Get creative by cutting out shapes and making your own rules!

4.  Hand Over Responsibility. Giving kids the responsibility to help prepare their lunches gives them ownership and pride in what they're bringing. That being said, don’t give them endless options, but rather, give them the choice between two options you have selected.  
Example: either chicken breast or turkey breast; salsa or hummus for their carrot sticks. Also filling up containers or baggies of food portions for them to choose from is another great ways to let them get involved.

5. Wash Food and Lunchboxes.  Wash ready to eat foods like apples and grapes and PEEL fruits like oranges or bananas. Also, pre-cut fruits and veggies to make it easier for kids to eat. This not only saves time at lunch hour but helps eliminate harmful bacteria that can spread during peeling or cutting. Don’t forget to wipe lunch boxes daily. Try a 50/50 solution of water and white vinegar for a nontoxic option!

6. Get Educated on School Lunches. If you choose to send your kids to school with money to buy lunch it’s important to make educated decisions. Most school lunches contain processed components so do your research! Lunch options, ingredients, and prices are available online. Counsel your child on better choices they can make for themselves and for their health.

Easy Homemade Lunchable Option: 

I put these great tips to use and recreated healthier versions of the well known, well liked, Lunchables. I took a hard look at the Ham and Cheese and Pizza variety Lunchables (Target acquired). Each are $1.99 and have over 50 ingredients each! I was SHOCKED. There were so many ingredients and I could not pronounce or  identify most of them. I was up for the challenge to find healthier options. I walked around the grocery store and read every label and I mean EVERY label to find comparable healthy options. I chose foods that had the fewest ingredients and ONLY those that were pronounceable. In the end my bento box (which is just a fancy way of saying compartmentalized container) had few ingredients, less preservatives, less additives, and was LESS expensive as compared to the Lunchable.  Mission accomplished! And now that I know this, I can use these ingredients and come up with fresh and modern ideas for lunches in the future. Once you find the brands YOU and YOUR family like the best, you can follow the same model, too! 

Here is a breakdown of what is in Lunchables compared to the alternatives I found.
On a whole, homemade lunches have less ingredients, can be healthier and more cost effective, and are fun as an after dinner activity to do with your kids!

On a whole, homemade lunches have less ingredients, can be healthier and more cost effective, and are fun as an after dinner activity to do with your kids! Have fun and EAT WELL!!!

Writer Biography:
Jessica DeLuise, MHS, PA-C is a certified physician assistant with a masters in health science. She has been practicing medicine in Philadelphia for the past six years. Jessica endured a personal struggle after being diagnosed with PCOS, GERD, and esophageal ulcers in her early twenties. She had to re-learn how to cook and eat, which has inspired her to help others.  Along with her team of other healthcare professionals, Jessica’s goal is to give others the tools to eat more healthy and learn how to cook within their health restrictions. Her company, Eat Your Way to Wellness, LLC, is based out of Conshohocken, PA.


  1. Great article! Lots of great insight!

    1. THANK YOU NOELLE!!! Please subscribe to our YouTube Channel and Like our Facebook page. We will keep cranking out tips, recipes, and ways to make you healthy! Thanks for supporting !! =)

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