Even if you spend time at home stressing the importance of healthy eating, it can be hard to be sure kids follow your lead once they walk out the door and head to school.

So what can you do as a parent to make it more likely that your child will make good food choices when they’re on their own?


Let Kids Have a Say

Like adults, kids want to be in control of what they eat. If your child eats school lunches, look over the menu together and discuss what they do or don’t like. Talk about healthy choices and plan to pack lunch on days they don’t like what’s offered so they still eat a well-rounded meal. For packed lunches, give kids a few healthy options and let them decide what makes the final cut.


Pack Lunch Carefully

Sending your child to school with lunch from home can give you more control over what your child eats, but pay attention to what you pack. One study found packed lunches had more calories, fat and sugar and less protein, fiber and calcium than school lunches. Avoid packing too many snacks and skip the sugary drinks.

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Switch Up School Snacks

Instead of sending pretzels, cookies or even healthy-sounding cereal bars for snack time, pack snacks that have some staying power. Include lean protein, healthy fat and complex carbs, such as low-fat cheese with fruit, hummus and carrots or turkey rolled up in whole wheat tortillas.


Model Healthy Eating at Home

If your child is used to making good food choices at home, they’re more likely to do the same when they’re on their own. Don’t lecture kids on the importance of eating healthy. Instead, get them involved in making good food choices and trying new foods so healthy eating becomes second nature to them.

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Date Last Reviewed: June 19, 2018

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN

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