School Lunch: An Important Meal of the Day!
We often hear that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and that skipping breakfast could prevent us from reaching the day's full potential.
But what about lunch?
For kids, the lunch period is always something to look forward to. It's a nice break from class and a time to socialize with friends.
But, the main point of the lunch period is to eat lunch! This is important because it's often the sole opportunity to refuel for the afternoon, which is usually the longer part of an already long day.
Eating lunch carries many benefits, including:
- Keeping kids' minds sharp. Proper fueling aids in concentration and focus, which is crucial for learning
- Providing the necessary energy to feel good, which can affect mood and confidence
- Providing fuel for after-school activities, sports, and clubs
And, of course, eating simply anything for lunch won't necessarily provide these benefits. A balanced lunch should include:
- Half the plate fruits and vegetables, to provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The more color and variety, the better!
- Whole grains, like whole wheat bread for a sandwich or barley in a soup
- A good source of protein - whether it's a lean meat like chicken or ham, fish, and/or beans
- A low-fat source of dairy for calcium, like milk, yogurt, or cheese. There are other great sources of calcium such as greens and beans too!
Lunch is also a great opportunity to try new things in a school dining hall, and it can be a platform for experimentation. The key to a healthy and balanced diet is variety. Encouragement of healthy eating while socializing is important, and we need to help troubleshoot lunch scheduling issues. For example, if a child's lunch period is early and he/she doesn't have much of an appetite, it's a good idea to eat something small and have a snack later.