Children always seem to win the gold medal for high energy. However, when they don’t sleep or eat well, everything can spiral out of control. From test-taking to playing with their friends, children need to have gotten enough sleep. Children 7 to 12 years old need 11 hours of sleep a night, and without it, their performance will suffer. Beyond sleep, what children eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner can have an effect on their mood and health at school.
Let’s face it: What you pack your kid for lunch can completely change the outcome of his or her day. Foods that undergo high amounts of processing or that contain added sugar can make your kid distracted and hyper. Others, like vegetables and whole grains, will keep your children satisfied and focused on schoolwork. I spoke with registered dietitian, nutritionist, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kristi King about ways to choose healthy and energizing foods for your kids’ lunch.
“Parents can start by setting a good example,” King says. “This is so important, as kids learn from role modeling. Parents also need to start up conversations with their children about what healthy means. If they are familiar with healthy foods, they may be more willing to eat them!”
King developed a list of healthy and energizing must-haves for your child's lunchbox.
Keep your kids energized all day with a healthy snack. “Almonds are not just good for parents, but kids too,” King says. “They’re a great source of B-vitamins and also contain magnesium, which is important in energy production and metabolism.”
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If your kids want to keep up at recess, pack a banana in their lunch. “Bananas are a great source of B-vitamins and potassium, which is needed for muscle function,” King says.