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Choose students’ snacks and lunches wisely

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School’s back and that means packing a lunch everyday for those kids on the go.

And while the first week might be easy the chore will soon wear down even the most imaginative parent and all too soon moms and dads fall back on processed snacks they know will be a hit.

But a generation of vending machine chips, slurpees and couch potato Nintendo playing has left 15 per cent of Canadian kids overweight, and the number is growing.

So what you pack for lunch is more important than ever.

A nutritious and balanced lunch might include two slices of whole wheat bread, or for a change try a wrap or pita bread. Tuck in some left over chicken form last night’s dinner and you’re on your way.

Home cooked meats tend to be leaner than deli meats, but deli meats are way better than processed meats, which tend to be very high in fat and salt.

Add a few veggies, like carrot sticks with ranch dressing dip, and a cut up apple and your child will be bursting with energy.

Well that’s if they eat it. If it’s too boring jazz up the fruit with a little caramel sauce and put some dip on the bread.

And let kids have chocolate milk. It has the same amount of sugar as a cup of orange juice and is far better for them than pop.

Of course some kids just won’t eat at school, especially those at high school. For many it’s an image thing.

Remind them that gorging when they get home is a quick way to gain weight, the very thing many of them are trying to avoid.

Try and make sure kids eat breakfast. A good way to encourage them is to sit down and eat with them. After all, if you don’t eat breakfast why should they?

Healthy eating doesn’t just happen. The best place to start is in the grocery store. Don’t bring anything home that is not good for the kids.

And downsize you servings. Most meals served in a restaurant are double what are needed.

And remember that bagel is equal to four slices of whole wheat bread.

According to federal recommendations a child’s diet should range from 1,800 to 2,500 calories a day depending on the child’s growth rate, activity level and gender.

A child eating 1,800 calories a day should consume 30 to 45 grams of protein a day and from 14 to 21 grams at lunch. Fat should amount to no more than 30 per cent of daily calories,

Sugar should not be more than 10 per cent of the daily calories consumed. A typical fruit punch contains 25 grams of sugar and tablespoon of jam has about 10 grams and a 64-oz pop from the corner store has a cup and a half of sugar in it. Kids should eat no more than 45 grams of sugar per day.

According to a recent study, more than half of Canadian children don’t even eat a single serving of vegetables a day and one third don’t have fruit daily.

And parents need to encourage their kids to be active. Health Canada recommends that children spend at least 30 minutes a day being physically active.

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