The school year has started for many, and for us parents; we are trying to get back to a schedule. Along with buying schools supplies, new clothes and packing backpacks comes the worry that our kiddos are getting the nutrition they need during the school day. 

While many families pack a lunch, many students do purchase lunch at school. I’m a registered dietitian, and a mom, and understand the worry that children might not be making healthy decisions when it comes to filling their plate at school.

Here are a few simple tips to encourage kids to make the right choices in the lunch line.

Look at the menu together.

Look over the cafeteria’s weekly menu together and discuss choices ahead of time. In a rush, kids may just grab what they see first, but knowing what is available ahead of time takes away the pressure of an impulse choice. Remind them that half the plate should be fruits and veggies!

Talk about beverages.

It’s not just food choices that matter. Many beverages are filled with added sugar. Suggest water, or low-fat milk and talk to them about choosing fresh fruits over fruit juices.

Recap the day.

Ask what they had for lunch and talk about their choices, the tastes and whether or not they enjoyed the food. This helps them to understand that their lunch choices are important and important enough to talk about.

Make it fun!

Let your kid’s know that it is okay to buy their favorite lunch items and enjoy Pizza Friday as long as they are incorporating fruits and veggies. Eating healthy is all about teaching kids balance and moderation.

Healthy choices at home. 

Help your child establish healthy habits at home. How we eat at home will affect our child’s choices at school.

Many schools have salad bars, which can be really fun for kids to create a salad masterpiece. Find out how your school can apply for a salad bar.