Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pack a Healthy School Lunch-Ensure Your Children Get the Nutrients they Need

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School is just around the corner for many children and you want to make sure they are eating a well balanced meal while away from home. Here are some tips and nutritional guidelines to keep in mind when packing your kids lunches.

To make up for your little ones' preferences for cookies over cauliflower, you may be relying on multi-vitamins and fortified cereals. That way, picky eaters can still get most of the nutrients they need without your having to force feed them, says Jennifer Collins, a registered dietitian and owner of Leading Lady Fitness in Pompano Beach.

And that means fewer children in the U.S. are clinically deficient in the recommended nutrients, with the exception of iron. Yet the National Cancer Institute reports that only 1 percent of children between the ages of two and 19 get the intake of grains, vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy that the USDA Food Guide Pyramid recommends.

Although it is a good idea to give kids the nutritional safety net that multi-vitamin supplements and enriched foods provide, Collins, the Mom of Delaney, 2, and Donovan, 5, says that vitamins and minerals found naturally in foods are more readily absorbed and used by the body.

What's more, Flintstones and Frosted Flakes don't have the fiber, health-boosting phytonutrients and water content of whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables. Nor does their use inspire good eating habits.

To find out which nutrients our kids are most likely to be lacking in their diets, we consult with Josee Derrien, a registered dietitian in Boca Raton. She says the usual suspects are calcium, iron, fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium and vitamin E.

Get more details on packing a healthy lunch and learn more about what the nutritional guidelines are for children by visiting the full article here.

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