It’s September! Along with the chilly weather (here in NY), comes the start of school. We all know how hectic this time of year can be as we try to regain some sense of a schedule. We feel the excitement surrounding new supplies, books, clothing and, of course, the infamous new lunchbox. As we send our kids off to school, we often put a lot of thought into their breakfast (and we should)! We want our little learners to have as much energy as possible to get them through all of their classes and then some. Wait! Why is little Timmy so sleepy even though he’s eaten a great breakfast? Why is Molly falling asleep in afternoon Math class? The culprit could be what is in that fancy new lunch box! When we look at children’s lunches, they tend to be filled with “fun” food. “Fun” food doesn’t always equal healthy food. Unhealthy food can lead to all sorts of problems, but a big problem for a little learner is the grogginess that comes after eating a lunch that is not filled with the energy-boosting foods our brains and bodies need after a long morning of learning.
As a teacher and a parent, I have seen first-hand what a “bad for you” lunch can do to a child’s afternoon. Students’ energy levels drop and they find it very difficult to stay on task. Studies performed by the American Psychological Association show that students who eat poorly for breakfast and at lunchtime suffer from a lack of ability to concentrate and focus. These same students become tired after lunch. Why, then, are we feeding our children highly-processed lunches full of sugar and salt? Convenience? Perhaps. However, with a little planning and “night before chopping”, your little Einstein can be on his/her way to a high-energy afternoon filled with academic achievement.
What are some ways we can “re-vamp” our children’s lunchboxes? First, be sure you are packing the lunch in containers that are environmentally safe and free of toxins. Next, find foods that are energy boosting. Finally, make them fun to eat! Children LOVE dipping foods, they love “cute” foods (ie: wraps cut into pinwheels) and they love foods that taste yummy! Here are some ideas to turn your child’s lunchbox into a box full of energy! Remember to give yourself an A+ for packing a healthy, delicious and creative lunch!
Combine some of these nutritional powerhouses for a student who maintains his/her energy throughout the afternoon! Your student, from pre-school to high school, will thank you!
- Fruit Skewers—cut fruit and slide them onto steamed asparagus spears for a fun, tasty treat that is entirely edible provide some tahini to dip in
- Edamame is a wonderful high-protein food—combine it with quinoa for a delicious salad
- Avocados provide wonderful fats our bodies need—make some guacamole and spread it on a high fiber bread for a creamy sandwich
- Overnight oats are a great lunchbox treat! Combine non-dairy milk, chia seeds, oats, raisins, cinnamon and a bit of maple syrup in a jar and place in refrigerator overnight. Pack it in the lunchbox the next morning. Serve with a side of fresh berries.
- Dipping is fun for everyone! Slice apples, celery and peaches and serve with almond butter. Bananas are great, too, just don’t cut those beforehand.
- Seeded crackers with hummus provide energy-boosting goodness!
- Granola served with a side of fruit and non-dairy milk is, also, a great treat!
- If you have an adventurous tike. boost focus and energy with seaweed snacks!
- Pack some coconut water for hydration and electrolytes.
Remember, if you’re packing your own lunch…follow these tips for yourself! After all, you need as much energy as you can get!
Enjoy your energized lunch!
Susan M. Landaira, VLCE holds a Master’s Degree in Education specializing in Early Childhood, Childhood and Students with Disabilities. She works as a Special Education Teacher for a School-to-Work Program. Susan is a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator and is Coach/CEO of Vegan Teacher LLC. You can find Susan on Facebook, Twitter and on her website Vegan Body Mind and World.