By: Daniel Haight, MD
Thursday, August 22 2013
Does your child’s lunch box hold more than food? You may be packing more than you bargained for when you packed your child’s lunch box today. Along with the healthy and nutritious foods you think you are providing, are you also including a risk for a foodborne illness?
There are a few things you can do to ensure your child’s lunch is healthy and safe:
- Avoid including deli meats that have been opened and sitting in the refrigerator for a few days.
- Keep in mind that although perishable items may only be in the lunch box for a short period of time, the current warm temperatures can increase the risk of food contamination.
- To keep food at the proper storage temperature until your child’s lunch period, freeze items that hold a greater risk for contamination or opt for an insulated lunch box that allows for an icepack.
- Remind your child to start the meal off right by first using hand sanitizer or washing hands with soap.
Lately, more schools are providing healthy food options in children’s school lunches. But what about the lunches you send with your children? As you pack your children’s lunch boxes, also consider the types of foods you are including. When choosing the items for your child’s lunch keep a few things in mind:
- Sometimes the foods that don’t need to be refrigerated have a lot of carbohydrates and sugars—like chips, raisins, crackers, bread, etc. Try to limit these foods.
- Try to balance the meal so that it includes a healthy mix of protein, fats and carbohydrates.
- Don’t forget to consider portions when trying to ensure you are providing healthy, well-balanced food options. Huge portions of healthy foods can be just as unhealthy as small portions of unhealthy foods.
- Offer a variety of creative food choices to encourage picky eaters. For example, almonds or lean beef jerky are excellent alternative protein sources.
By following these few simple tips, you can provide safe and nutritious lunches for your children. And don’t forget these tips when packing your own lunch too!