Parents can make changes to improve the nutrition of their child’s packed lunch by setting small goals such as:
- Include a fresh fruit and vegetable every day
- Send water or milk for drinking instead of a sugar-sweetened drink
- Replace dessert with a healthier item such as fruit
Studies have shown that involving children in the decision-making around what to eat increases their likelihood to eat those foods. Parents can encourage their kids to eat healthy foods by involving them in packing decisions: giving children a choice about which fruits and vegetable to include, allowing them to select foods from the farmers market or grocery store, and modeling healthy eating at home.
Parents can also… be patient. It takes time for children to accept new foods – research shows up to 15 times! – but exposing children to healthy foods is critical for acceptance. Be patient, offer healthy foods, and be content with small bites. They will be forming healthy habits that last a lifetime!