What will you be putting in your child’s lunchbox this school year? According to Gina DeVito, a registered dietitian and director of wellness initiatives at Open Door Family Medical Centers in Westchester and Putnam counties, parents can do a great deal to prevent childhood obesity by collaborating with their children when it comes to lunch and snack decisions.
“When children are younger, nutritional counseling is geared more towards the parents as far as preparing and buying foods. But once children are in school, they are freer to make their own decisions,” says DeVito. “We try to educate parents about making foods appetizing and palatable and we teach children about different food groups, the nutritional benefits, portion control, and how it all connects with doing well in school and athletic performance. It starts with learning what the child likes to eat and then making recommendations around that.”
DeVito acknowledges that children, like most adults, need the occasional bag of chips or slice of pizza, but that small changes can go a long way. “Kids will have birthday parties and be exposed to not-so-healthy foods and as a parent you can’t be unrealistic,” she says. “We emphasize balancing these foods with healthier options. Yes, you can have chips, but not in the lunch box and maybe only on Friday, but the rest of the week you need to eat something more nutritious. And if the parents model this behavior at home, it can become a power message for the entire family.”
She recommends, for example:
- Avoiding soft drinks with no nutritional value and replacing them with flavor-infused water
- Employing crunchy vegetables (like carrots or cucumbers) for afterschool snacks instead of chips or sweets
- Choosing fat-free milk rather than chocolate milk
- Avoiding energy drinks
- Offering afterschool snacks that may include whole grain crackers with some peanut butter or almonds instead of sweets or ice cream
- Making certain changes in the preparation of vegetables and other foods that will replace junk food (“If a child has to choose between ordering French fries or blandly prepared string beans, there won’t be much of a choice.”)
- Teaching older children, who will stop at the pizzeria after school, to opt for one slice with mushrooms or peppers, instead of two with highly processed toppings.
“Making even minor changes can make a big difference in overall health and in preventing obesity,” says DeVito. “Food can be both happy and healthy. You don’t want to demonize certain foods, but rather demonstrate balance and mindful choices.”
Kayco offers many kosher, easy, healthy, tasty, and attractive options for the lunch box. Children will especially love the newest additions to the lineup: WonderMelon and Tahini Bars.
Wonder Melon™ is the latest thirst-quencher for those seeking clean, uniquely flavorful new refreshment options. Wonder Melon™ is made from 100% organic cold-pressed juice with no added sugar, artificial ingredients, or artificial colorings. Watermelon Cucumber Basil is a delightfully cool concoction of real watermelon juice, lemon juice, apple juice, cucumber juice, and basil, with only 80 calories per 8.45 oz. bottle. Watermelon Lemon Cayenne wakes up the taste buds with real watermelon juice, lemon juice, apple juice, and a dash of cayenne at just 100 calories per 8.45 oz. bottle.
Both varieties are non-GMO verified, certified Fair Trade, USDA organic, and certified OU kosher (pareve). Packaged 6 bottles per case ($3.99/bottle MSRP), Wonder Melon™ is available in the refrigerator section at Shop-Rite, Fairway, Best Market, independent grocers, and Amazon.
Watermelon’s 92% water content is excellent for hydration. It contains a bounty of nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals associated with digestive health, eye, skin, and hair health, sun protection, diabetes prevention, heart and blood vessel health, weight loss, combating asthma, nerve function, and reduction of inflammation.
Tahini is a superfood. Loaded with protein, vitamins, and minerals, it’s a great alternative for those with nut allergies and provides a boost of energy. Mighty Sesame TahiniBars® in the 6-bar package is available at Walmart stores nationwide.
Mighty Sesame brand TahiniBars® and Tahini Squeeze and Serve bottles are available at Whole Foods, Publix, Wegman’s, Walmart, and Amazon, as well as independent food stores across the U.S