Back to school: Variety is key for student lunches, nutritionist says

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More than 1/3 of students' calories come from school snacks and meals – Aug 29, 2018

As the kids get ready to head back to school, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health wants parents to start thinking about what sort of lunches their child will be eating.

The health department’s resident nutritionist said lunch is just as important as breakfast and dinner, and should not be skipped.

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“This is especially important for kids who are in school all day,” said Branka Gladanac in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“[Students] need nutritious food to help them concentrate and perform well in school, to participate in activities and sports, and play with their friends.”

As for what is being packed in the lunchbox, Gladanac said variety is key and it’s important to have a mixture of components, including fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods and some sort of grain.

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BELOW: Public Health Nutritionist Branka Gladanac speaks with reporter Matt Carty

A perfect example of this would be a tuna wrap with red peppers, lettuce and an apple on the side, Gladanac said.

“It’s got all those key things for a nice, balanced lunch,” she said while adding a bento box is another option for parents to pack.

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“It’s just a bunch of snack-like foods together,” she explained. “For protein-rich foods, you can include cheese and hummus, and then for grain you can include whole-grain mini pitas, for some veggies — carrots and cucumbers, and some cut-up pear for fruit.”

Gladanac said parents should also involve their kids in the meal planning to avoid lunchboxes coming back full from school.

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“Ask them what they like and get them to help prepare that type of food. That’ll help with them being able to enjoy that food,” she said.

Parents should also think about meal planning lunches so they are not scrambling to put something together before their son or daughter head out the door.

“Parents are overwhelmed, there’s so much going on,” Gladanac said. “Taking some time aside when you have it to try to meal plan saves so much time in the end.”

More tips and easy recipe ideas can be found here.

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