MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The CDC says kids get as much as half of their daily calories while at school. That's why nutritionists say it's important to make school lunches count.
Kids are going back to school, and nutritionists say this is the time to start talking about healthy school lunch ideas. (KNOE) -
Hope Anderson is a nutritionist in Monroe. "If you can encourage children to eat foods that are fresh, so including a piece of fruit in a lunch, including color in a lunch,' explains Anderson. "I always tell my patients to color half your plate that's a really good strategy for making sure you're getting enough plant-based foods."
Anderson says you want to look for healthy fats (olive oil, nuts, seeds), protein (chicken, other lean meats), and complex carbs (vegetables, fruits, sweet potatoes) to include in your school lunch. She says it's important to fuel your body with nutrients to keep your focus laser-sharp in the classroom.
She says Lunchables is a common go-to for moms because kids love them, but she says you can make a healthier version. She says including some cheese slices and low-sodium turkey are great alternatives to processed foods.
She says it can be hard to get kids to eat certain foods, but she says if you get your kids into the kitchen cooking with you it may be more fun.
"So if you get them to help prepare it, have some fun foods absolutely but encourage them to try and try again," says Anderson. "Because it can take up to 20 or 30 exposures to a food that we think 'oh I don't like this food' to actually become accepting of it."
And staying hydrated is a must says Anderson, especially during summertime.