Many parents think packing a brown bag lunch for their child is a healthier option than sticking with the school lunch menu. That can be true – as long as you’re mindful about the items you include! Try these easy swaps to reduce the amount of sugar in your child’s packed lunch.
1. Say no to sugar. Ditch the regular cups of applesauce and grab a natural version with no added sugar or opt for a scoop of calcium-packed cottage cheese.1 Throw some blueberries or sliced strawberries on top of the cottage cheese for an added treat!
2. Opt for real fruit. Fruit snacks may seem like a good idea – after all, many of them use real fruit juice. But fruit snacks and fruit leathers are gummy and sticky, which means bits of them will cling to teeth long after lunch is over. Over time, this can lead to cavities. Pack real fruit, such as a banana, clementine or apple slices, instead.1
3. Choose plain milk. Drinking any kind of milk will help kids reach their recommended daily amount of calcium, which helps build strong teeth. But getting them to drink plain instead of chocolate- or strawberry-flavored milk will help decrease the amount of sugar in their lunches.
If you’re in the habit of throwing in a package of crackers or a bag of chips as a side snack, you may want to reconsider. Starchy foods break down into glucose just like candy and cookies. So even if the food doesn’t seem inherently sweet, they have the same results. Looking for nutritional alternatives with some crunch? Try sunflower seeds, almonds, baby carrots and popcorn.1