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Packing healthy lunches for kids can be fast

September 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Food manufacturers know parents don't have a lot of time to prepare school lunches, so they market pre-packaged products to make it easier. But many of those options are full of fat and sugar. Pediatricians say packing the right foods can be fast and easy. The key is to know what to avoid.The first week of school is always crazy, so packing lunch may have been the last thing on Derek Chin's mind.

"Well that's what Snackables are for," said Chin.

It may be quick, but packaged convenience foods are not what the doctor ordered.

"We got to help our kids make healthy choices," said pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Steven Mittelman. "We need to encourage them to get out and play sports every day."

Dr. Mittelman says nearly half of all children are overweight or obese. So now more than ever parents need to prepare healthy lunches and snacks.

"I think they need to send fruits and vegetables -- whole fruits if possible. Don't put in a lot of juices, soda or sports drinks," said Dr. Mittelman. "Those are just empty calories."

A juice box here and a Fruit Roll-up there may seem like innocent snacks, but doctors say over time sugary treats do add up.

"A hundred percent juices maybe a little bit better then artificially flavored, but it still has a lot of sugar," said Dr. Mittelman.

Katrina Harmon and her 9-year-old daughter Giselle say throwing in fresh fruit and veggies and a whole wheat sandwich is just as easy to put together as a pre-packaged meal with a boxed juice.

"We've never served them juice," said Harmon. "We've always had water be our beverage of choice, and they don't drink any soft drinks."

For snacks, Giselle loves to eat dried seaweed snacks which happen to be a hit with all her friends. And her family often takes hikes and walks together after all the homework is done.

"We believe in being outside," said Harmon.

"Try to make day to day healthy choices for you and your family," said Dr. Mittelman. "Live a healthy lifestyle after school and on the weekends and promote that in your kids."

And Harmon says to make water more interesting for kids she keeps a pitcher in her fridge with mint, cucumber and sometimes fresh watermelon juice.


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