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Tips for Packing Healthy Lunches for Your Students

Students head back to school soon, so make sure what they bring keeps them body and mind sharp during the day.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The following was submitted by Kathleen Parente.)

When packing a healthy lunch, try choosing from the rainbow of foods in your supermarket’s produce department. Include foods that are red (red peppers, apples, tomatoes), orange (carrots, peaches), green (salad, celery sticks) and choose foods from the different food groups.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded in 2005 with the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, suggests including one serving of vegetables or salad and one serving of fruit (fresh, canned or dried all count); one serving of a low-fat or fat-free milk or dairy item such as a low-fat cheese stick, a yogurt cup, or some cottage cheese; plus one serving of meat, chicken, fish, eggs, peanut butter, beans or another protein source.

Pack healthy drinks such as water, low-fat milk or 100 percent juice with no added sugar. Beverages boxes frozen the night before can keep a lunchbox cool until lunchtime. Cut out the soda and energy drinks. These are filled with sugar, empty calories and provide little or no nutrition.

Sandwiches can be made on whole wheat bread, pita, wraps or flatbreads. Traditional luncheon meats are high in fat and sodium. When choosing luncheon meats; pick lean meats like turkey, ham or leftover chicken breast. Use reduced fat mayo or salad dressing or mustard to dress a sandwich and top with mixed greens or spinach for extra nutrients.

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