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The School Lunch Dilemma

To Buy or To Pack?
-- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator

Its lunchtime at the office and you're hungry. Your morning has been stressful, and your co-workers are pooling their money for some fried take-out from the local burger joint. You decline their invitation (even though comfort food sounds particularly comforting right now), and instead sit down with the healthy lunch you brought from home, complete with whole grains, lean proteins, raw vegetables, and lots of water. You know you have an afternoon full of meetings, phone calls, and errands, and the fiber and vitamins will carry you through your to-do list valiantly. Congratulations, you made a responsible adult decision, which will benefit your energy levels and probably your long-term health. Do you think you would have made the same decision in the lunch line in the third grade?
Kids in school face complicated lunchtime decisions on a daily basis. The decision to buy or to pack is only the beginning. On the way to the lunchroom, the hallways are lined with vending machines selling soda, chips and candy. The kids in the lunchroom flock toward the a la carte counter, where they can buy French fries, hot dogs, and sugary drinks. And don't forget about self-consciousness and peer pressure, which complicate this decision even more.
What a child eats for lunch at school not only influences their energy levels in math class but also sets the stage for adult eating habits. Too many wrong decisions can be a recipe for a nutritional disaster. But if you use lunchtime decision-making as a teachable moment, you can help your child learn to make nutritionally sensible decisions. Whether your child chooses to pack or to buy, here's what you both need to know about lunchtime nutrition.
Buying Lunch

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Member Comments About this Article
"Be sure to check out the related content linked at the upper right hand side of this article." -- TONKA_14
"My issue is that I don't know what to put in the lunch besides sandwiches which my kids are sick of. The can't heat anything up at school like i can at work so what are some good options that don't have to be reheated?" -- STONE1
"We let my stepson buy his lunch once a week, and the rest of the time I pack him a healthy lunch. If you're interested in trying to revamp your child's school's lunch program, I highly reccommend the book "Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children", by Ann Cooper and Lisa Holmes. It's awesome!" -- RICKETYCRICKET
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About The Author
Liza Barnes
Liza received her bachelor's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati and is pursuing a master's degree in nurse midwifery. She is the proud mother of one daughter.
Liza Barnes Rothfuss


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