Healthy School Lunch Choices
Need a reason to make healthy choices for lunch? People who eat a healthier lunch with lean protein and complex carbohydrates can:
- Feel more satisfied.
- Avoid an afternoon slump.
- Focus better on schoolwork.
- Feel less hungry after school.
- Maintain their weight by avoiding excess calories.
Important things to remember:
- Make smart choices.
- Pick whole-wheat bread or an 8-inch tortilla instead of white bread.
- Take deli turkey or ham instead of salami or bologna.
- Choose grilled chicken instead of fried.
- Order lite dressing instead of regular.
- Use mustard or ketchup instead of mayo or dipping sauces.
Enjoy some foods in moderation:
- Choose chips or fries no more than once a week.
- Limit starches to 2 servings at lunchtime (1 serving equals 1 slice bread; 1/2 bun; 1 small dinner roll; 1/2 bagel; 1/2 cup potatoes, rice, or pasta).
Balance your diet:
- If you eat chips or fries, remove one slice of bread (or half a bun) from your sandwich or burger.
- Add tomato and lettuce to sandwiches, burgers, and tacos.
- Include either a small salad with lite dressing, a side serving of veggies, or a piece of fruit.
- A plain burger (no cheese) is a better choice than processed or breaded foods, such as a hot dog, chicken fingers or nuggets, mozzarella sticks, or pizza.
- Choose low-fat white milk (no flavored milks) or water instead of sugary sodas or energy drinks.
Pack it up:
- A packed lunch gives you the most control over what you eat.
Here are some of the most common lunch items with ideas on how to make them healthier:
- Hold the cheese.
- Add lettuce and tomato.
- Remove 1/2 bun (eat open-faced).
Spaghetti and meatballs
- Spaghetti counts as starch, so skip the bread.
- Choose marinara sauce instead of buttered noodles.
- Add salad with lite dressing.
Chicken nuggets, patties, or fingers
- Use ketchup or barbecue sauce.
- These are already breaded, so skip extra bread or rolls.
- Add vegetable or salad.
- Blot off excess fat.
- Choose veggie toppings.
- Remove pepperoni.
- Leave the crust.