Most schools are trying hard to upgrade their lunch programs and offer the best food they can. But not every school cafeteria provides appealing, healthy lunch choices. Educate yourself when it comes to what your cafeteria has to offer.
Even if your school provides healthy options, it can be too easy to give in to temptation and pick a less healthy choice when you're feeling really hungry. How do you take control? Take a packed lunch to school!
Here are the top 5 reasons to pack your lunch — and snacks — at least twice a week:
1. Control. Do you ever wait in the lunch line only to find when you get to the front that you don't like what they're serving? So you reach for pizza again. A healthy packed lunch lets you avoid the lunch line (and any temptations). Bringing your own lunch also lets you control exactly what goes into the food you eat.
2. Variety. It doesn't hurt to cave in and enjoy the occasional serving of pizza and hot dogs. But if you're eating these foods all the time, your body probably feels ready for a change. A packed lunch a couple of times a week means you can enjoy some favorites that you might not find at every school — like a piping hot thermos of your mom's chicken soup; hummus and pita bread; or some crisp, farm-stand apples.
3. Energy. If you have a big game or activity after school, plan a lunch and snacks that combine lean proteins with carbohydrates to give you lasting energy and keep you going through the late afternoon. Some ideas: your own "trail" mix of dried fruit and nuts or sunflower seeds, whole-grain pretzels and low-fat cheese, or a bagful of baby carrots and yogurt dip.
4. Cold hard cash. Pack healthy snacks so you don't feel tempted to step off campus for a fast-food lunch, or hit the vending machine or corner store for chocolate and a soda! Put the money you save on such snacks aside.
5. That warm and fuzzy feeling. Remember when your mom or dad used to pack your lunch? Pack yourself a retro lunch featuring healthy versions of your old faves — such as PB&J on whole-wheat bread.
Whether you pack or eat in the cafeteria, what's important is that you make healthy choices. If you're concerned that your cafeteria doesn't offer enough healthy options, get involved in trying to make changes. Ask a teacher or someone in food service for advice on how to get started.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014
|Allrecipes.com This site offers more than 40,000 free recipes, plus lots of cooking tips and information.|
|Cooking Light Cooking Light magazine goes online with recipes for healthy living, plus grocery coupons and tips for feeding your family.|
|Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|Food Network TV's Food Network goes online with searchable menus and recipes, an encyclopedia of cooking terms, and ideas from celebrity chefs.|
|ChooseMyPlate.gov ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information on how to follow the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes resources and tools to help families lead healthier lives.|
|How Much Food Should I Eat? Lots of us don't realize we're eating too much because we've become so used to large portions. This article for teens helps you take control of your plate.|
|Your Secrets to Healthy Snacking More than 1,000 teens took our survey on healthy snacking. Here are their thoughts (and advice) on choosing healthy snacks.|
|Smart Supermarket Shopping You don't need to be a dietitian to figure out how to make healthy food choices. Before grabbing a shopping cart and heading for the aisles, read this article to make grocery shopping a snap.|
|Figuring Out Fat and Calories From all you hear, you'd think fat and calories are really bad for you, but we all need a certain amount of them in our diets. Find out the truth about fat and calories.|
|Healthy School Lunch Planner Use our printable plan to make your favorite lunch line choices healthier.|
|What Is a Healthy Lunch I Can Bring From Home? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|5 Ways to Get Your 5 a Day You may know that you should eat 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. Here are some tips on making that happen.|
|Go, Slow, and Whoa! A Quick Guide to Healthy Eating Looking for an easy way to eat healthier? This article provides tips on choosing the right foods - and an easy-to-follow chart to guide you.|
|Smart Snacking Healthy snacks are essential for busy teens. Find out how eating small, nutritious meals throughout the day can keep your energy level high and your mind alert.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.