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Posts Tagged ‘food choices’

Are you eating wheat products?  Lately, the news has included many stories on how wheat is bad for you causing abdominal fat, triggering diseasewheat and breads, and being linked with Alzheimer’s, headaches, depression and others.

If all that is true why is wheat recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, by nutrition experts and American Heart Association?   Isn’t it a part of the Mediterranean Diet which is highly recommended by nutrition professionals.

Does wheat contribute to abdominal fat or belly fat?  High consumption of refined grains has been associated with greater belly fat in studies.  However, lower belly fat has been associated with the consumption of eating whole grains including whole wheat.  Thus, whole grains including whole wheat do not seem to be the problem.  The problem is our consumption of refined grains.  Cutting out processed foods made with refined wheat (wheat flour, white flour, enriched wheat flour, all-purpose flour) and loaded with sugar and saturated fat will help us all avoid or limit the “wheat belly.”   Limit your consumption of cookies, cakes, pastries, crackers, and white bread.

So what about the other charges on mental effects?  Research has shown that both the DASH diet and the Mediterranean diet lower the risk of dementia.  Both diets include consumption of whole grains including whole wheat.  Following those diets showed better cognitive ability in adults ages 65 and up over a period of 11 years.  It is true higher glucose levels from too many carbohydrates is a risk factor for dementia, but cutting out all carbohydrates is not the answer either.  Our brain needs glucose (Carbohydrates break down to glucose in our body.) for energy as it does not store glucose.  Thus, diets low in carbohydrates can hurt our thinking and memory.

Again, it is important to eat whole grains.  Whole grains including whole wheat can provide the glucose needed for our brain.   Whole grains including whole wheat breaks down more slowly than simple carbohydrates like refined grains and sugar.

Whole grains also provide fiber.   Consuming the recommended amount of dietary fiber without whole grains would be very difficult.  Gluten-free diets usually only contain six gram of dietary fiber a day, a lot less than the 25-38 grams recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

Do cwhole-grain-stamphoose a variety of whole grains but including whole wheat, unless you need a gluten-free diet.  When shopping be sure to choose products made with “whole wheat” or “whole-grain wheat.”  You can also look for the 100% Stamp from the Whole Grains Council on foods made with all whole grains.

Note:  If your doctor recommends you follow a gluten-free diet, please continue to follow your doctor’s advice.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Ohio State University Extension, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences

Reviewed by:   Liz Smith, M.S, RDN., L.D. NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Tufts University, [2014].  The truth about the war on wheat, Tufts University Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy Health & Nutrition Letter, March 2014 Special Supplement, p. 1-4.

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After viewing a few television shows about the new trends in dining and hot eats – it got me wondering how it would influence my own choices as I prepared foods or choose to eat out in the coming months. Several of the trend lists I viewed were from surveys by the National Restaurant Association, insights from Technomic (a leading food service research firm), and The Food Channel. I found it interesting that a number of the trends fit well with the themes we are promoting through Ohio State University Extension. Here are my favorites:

  • Locally grown in all types of foods including produce, meats, and dairy. Extension has been promoting local foods for several years in Ohio. By buying local, you support your local economy, and you have the opportunity to learn from your local farmer or restaurant how the food was produced and harvested. To learn more about this effort go to http://localfoods.osu.edu/.vegetables
  • Children’s nutrition and more healthful meals for children. This goes back to more vegetables, fruits, and less processed foods. I hope that means restaurants will get on board with the work that many of us have been doing for years (Health Departments, State Government, and our First Lady included).  A national Extension team that I contribute to is working on this topic, so check out our work on eXtension at http://www.extension.org/healthy_food_choices_in_schools.
  • A Midwestern Food Movement is also found in restaurants and with newer television programming and recipe books. Of course growing up in Ohio, I know this is a true, we have good food! Think root vegetables, fresh foods from the garden, catfish, dairy products, pork (goes back to the Chicago hog processing from days past), and many of the traditional comfort foods.
  • Clean eating or not over processed foods is the final restaurant trend I want to focus on. Attempt to eat foods in their natural state; avoid preservatives; reduce salt and try herbs; eat whole grains rather than refined; and use natural fats like olive, canola, or walnut oil. This ties in well with locally grown and the Midwest movement.

This look at the new trends in food and dining has brought forward several messages that are good for all of us – look for foods in their natural state, buy fresh and local when you can, and encourage children to eat these foods by setting a good example. What are you doing to be part of this movement?

Sources:

Technomic, https://www.technomic.com/Pressroom/Releases/dynRelease_Detail.php?rUID=262.

The Food Channel, http://www.foodchannel.com/articles/article/2014-top-ten-food-trends-part-i/.

Ohio State University Extension, Local Foods, http://localfoods.osu.edu/ and Ohio Direct Marketing: Food and Agriculture, https://u.osu.edu/fox.264/.

Author: Lisa Barlage, MS, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Daniel Remley, MSPH, PhD, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, remley.4@osu.edu.


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Oak Trees In the Snow at Dawn

We have all been shivering through the latest spell of nasty cold weather that is impacting much of the country. While temperatures may be rising a bit – anything over 20 seems balmy right now – we know that cold weather will be around for a while.  Let’s take a minute to think about ways that we can keep ourselves and our family safe.

What should you wear?

  • hat
  • scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth
  • sleeves that are snug at the wrist
  • mittens (they are warmer than gloves)
  • water-resistant coat and shoes
  • several layers of loose-fitting clothing

Be sure the outer layer of your clothing is tightly woven, preferably wind resistant, to reduce body-heat loss caused by wind. Excess perspiration will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm. Also, avoid getting gasoline or alcohol on your skin while de-icing and fueling your car or using a snow blower. These materials in contact with the skin greatly increase heat loss from the body.

 What should you eat?  We might not think that what we eat could be important to fight the dangers of cold weather, but it can be.

· Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer.

· Do not drink alcoholic beverages—they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Instead, drink warm, sweet  beverages such as hot chocolate to help maintain your body temperature.

· If you have any dietary restrictions, talk to your doctor.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

  • Hypothermia occurs when the body gets cold and loses heat faster than the body can make it. Someone should seek medical attention immediately if they have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.
  • Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin. Frostbite refers to the freezing of body tissue (usually skin) that results when the blood vessels contract, reducing blood flow and oxygen to the affected body parts. Normal sensation is lost, and color changes also occur in these tissues.
  • Children and older adults are especially susceptible to these conditions. Keep an eye on them as they may not be aware that they are in danger

Remember your pets
· Bring them indoors if at all possible

· If they have to remain outside, provide shelter to keep them warm and make sure they have access to water that will not freeze.

These do’s and don’ts are common sense reminders that will help keep us safe and healthy even when mother nature is not cooperating!

Written by: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@sou.edu

Reviewed by:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Treber.1@osu.edu

Sources:
http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/duringstorm/outdoorsafety.asp

http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/tc/hypothermia-and-cold-temperature-exposure-topic-overview

http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/understanding-frostbite-basics

http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Red-Cross-Offers-Safety-Steps-for-Extreme-Cold

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Tis the season for chocolate. Most of us love chocolate anytime of the year but from Halloween to Valentine’s Day, chocolate seems to be all around us.Chocolate

Is dark chocolate really good for you? Do the flavanols in chocolate really help you?

Chocolate or cocoa powder does have flavanols. The cocoa bean is a rich source of flavanols which are a group of phytochemicals in food.

However, depending on how the cocoa bean is processed many flavanols can be lost. Flavanols tend to be bitter tasting, so manufacturers roast, ferment, pulverize, and sometimes alkalinize the cocoa bean to improve taste. Thus, it is hard to know how much benefit is in that chocolate piece.

• Consuming a large amount of cocoa flavanols has produced benefits including improved endothelial function (dilation of the artery). This helps blood flow through the arteries and may help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
• Some promises of lowering blood pressure and improving brain function have been seen with consuming large amounts of chocolate.
• Sorry, but chocolate does not help you lose weight. Studies show the more chocolate you eat the more weight you gain.Cocoa

So, how do you get the benefits of the cocoa bean without gaining a lot of weight? Using or eating cocoa powder is your best source. Two tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder will provide you with 200 mg of flavanols and about 20 calories. You could try adding it to your coffee, warm milk, oatmeal or yogurt. That is unsweetened, so if you add sweetener the calorie content will jump. To get 200 mg of flavanols you can choose baking chocolate (unsweetened) providing about 70 calories; 1-1/2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips providing 200 calories or 2 ounces of dark chocolate (at least 65%) with 320 calories. Forget milk chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate syrup as they have few flavanols and lots of calories.

Enjoy chocolate in moderation, yes benefits, but also calories.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Fayette County

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

References:
Schardt, D. [2013]. How bittersweet it is, Nutrition Action HealthLetter, December 2013. 40(10). 8-11.
Zeratsky, K. [2012]. Can chocolate be good for my health? Available at http://mayoclinic.com

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lhlw zwg 2013 logo
Are you interested in maintaining your weight or even losing a few pounds during this holiday season? Could you use some encouragement and guidance but don’t have time to attend classes? Give our Zero Holiday Weight Gain holiday wellness challenge a try.

“Zero Holiday Weight Gain Challenge” is an on-line challenge designed to help participants get fit by encouraging regular exercise, nutrition, and wellness tips during the upcoming holiday season. Participants will receive weekly e-communications and have access to supplemental information available on Blogs and Facebook. All participant information is kept confidential.

Each week participants will receive free weekly e-communications, containing nutrition, health and fitness tips. Additional food and activity logs will be available for download to help participants track their progress. Pre- and post- online-survey assessments are used to collect comments to improve future challenges and track participant progress.

Interested in participating in this on-line challenge? Sign up by following this link to enroll http://go.osu.edu/ZWGRoss, if you have participated in past Challenges – contact your Educator, or leave us a comment on the blog. You will be enrolled and begin receiving e-communications starting the week of November 25. While Facebook™ will be available; participants only need to have an email address. The program is funded by Ohio State University Extension.

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Kid-eating-veggies

Getting your child off to a good start can prevent health problems later. With back to school right around the corner, it’s a great time to develop good lifelong eating habits.

Seven Rules for Healthy Eating
These seven rules for healthy eating helps to raise a healthy eater by defining what the parent is in charge of and what the child is in charge of with regard to their meals and snacks.

1. Responsibility- a parent’s responsibility is to provide nutritious food and regular mealtimes and snack times. Decide where your child should eat. Give food only at the table. Let your child make choices from a variety of good foods. A child’s responsibility is to decide how much to eat.
2. Respect- respect a child’s need to be guarded about trying new foods. Encourage, yet never force a child to try something new.
3. Resist- resist power struggles. Don’t make mealtimes a battle. Choosing to eat is your child’s job. Your job is to provide healthy food and to keep the atmosphere relaxed.
4. Reinforce-reinforce good eating habits. Don’t purchase sugar cereals. Ignore whining for junk food, yet do allow your child to have an occasional treat. Avoid using food as a way to keep a child entertained. Establish regular meal and snack times. Set a good example by eating and enjoying a variety of foods. Your child learns by watching you!
5. Replace- Don’t allow a child to carry around a bottle or cup of milk, juice or soda. This encourages eating for comfort not hunger.
6. Recognize- learn to recognize correct portion sizes. Offer your child the correct portion sizes
7. Relax! Providing healthy foods, regular times for meals and snacks and a calm, relaxing environment will help set the pace for healthy eating.
Family meals are extremely important for you and your family. It is a perfect time to engage in conversations about the day. Children who have frequent family meals:
• Develop good manners and eating habits
• Improve conversation skills
• Learn to compromise and not always have their favorite foods
• Eat more vegetables
• Are frequently happier
• Do better in school
• Often avoid teenage problems such as eating disorders and substance abuse

Start today having family dinners as many nights as possible!

Resources: American Academy Pediatrics/family dinners

Author: Beth Stefura M Ed, RD, LD, Family & Consumer Science, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith, RD,LD, Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

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Shift Workers

Good nutrition is important for everyone but for shift workers, healthy eating is vital to feeling your best, both on and off the job and for maintaining your mental, spiritual and physical health. Eating during shift work often requires a change in the type of foods chosen and the timing of meals.

If you work shifts, you probably experience more gastrointestinal problems, ulcers, constipation, diarrhea, loss of appetite and heartburn. Dehydration, another common problem, can cause headaches, dry skin and nasal irritation, making you more susceptible to colds, coughs, sore throats and the flu.
There is evidence that shift work can lead to stomach disorders, nutritional deficiencies, irregular appetite and weight gain or loss. There also seems to be a link between shift work and heart disease and cancer.

Some reasons for these problems include:
• Too much caffeine intake to stay awake
• High-fat snacking instead of eating meals
• Eating infrequently during the day, then over-eating during the evening
• Eating when digestion and other body functions are slowed down
• Eating meals in a rush, often without the company of family and friends
• Sedentary jobs and lack of opportunities to exercise

It is critical for shift workers to establish regular eating times. Skipping meals can result in fatigue, increased snacking, increased eating at the next meal, or even less overall food intake. Snacks can play an important part of a healthy eating pattern and are especially important during long shifts.

What to eat
• Pack food to take to work to avoid vending machines and take-out fast foods.
• Be sure each meal is balanced with protein, starch, vegetables and fruit.
• Taper off liquids as you near the end of your night shift.
• Place some crackers by your bed in case you wake up hungry during the day.

When to eat
• Try to avoid eating a large meal before work.
• Eat small, nutritionally balanced snacks throughout the shift.
• Eat the largest meal of the day when you wake up.
• Eat as little as possible — and avoid fatty foods entirely — toward the end of your shift.

The right food at the right time:

protein food
• Consume protein foods when it is necessary to stay awake, carbohydrate foods when it is necessary to sleep.

To promote sleep after completing their shift, workers may benefit from a high carbohydrate meal. Foods high in carbohydrates increase levels of serotonin, which promotes sleep. Cereal, bread/bagels, crackers or fruit are good high carbohydrate snacks.

To stay alert, shift workers may turn to protein foods. Protein foods have the opposite effect of carbohydrates and decrease serotonin levels. A high protein meal can make you feel more alert; so, it is important to include protein foods in meals and snacks during your shift. Food choices might include low fat cheese or meat, peanut butter, or hard-boiled eggs in sandwiches or with low fat crackers.

• When working afternoon and evening shifts, eat the main meal at midday instead of during the middle of the shift.
• When working night shift, the first main meal during waking hours should be late afternoon or early evening. After completing a night shift, a moderate snack will prevent going to bed hungry or too full.

Caffeine

Drink caffeinated beverages before your shift or early into it. Don’t have caffeine after midnight; it stays in your body for 6-8 hours. Limit caffeine to no more than 400 mg. a day (about 2 cups of coffee). Excessive caffeine may cause insomnia, headaches, anxiety, among other disorders.

Resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/workschedules/

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2006/It-Can-Be-a-Hard-Days-Night-For-Weight-Watchers-on-the-Late-Shift.aspx
WebMD.com: http://blogs.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/2009/12/shift-worker-alert-curb-the-caffeine.html

Writer: Kathryn K. Dodrill, MA, CFCS, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County/Buckeye Hills EERA, dodrill.10@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, LD, MA, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County/Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

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augustblogpizza

In their February 2013 journal, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics took the position supporting the total diet approach, which is based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Total diet is defined as “the combination of foods and beverages that provide energy and nutrients and constitute an individual’s complete dietary intake, on average, over time.”

The guidelines emphasize that all foods can be included, in appropriate amounts, in a healthy diet. Yes, this includes carbohydrates, fats, cupcakes, and even ice cream. It is important, however, to understand that although all foods can fit, the bulk of the diet should be largely comprised of nutrient rich foods necessary to meet energy and nutrient requirements (for your requirements, visit www.choosemyplate.gov).my plate

The total diet approach vehemently avoids labeling foods as “good” or “bad.” This tends to create a sense of black and white thinking concerning healthy eating leading to an emphasis placed on individual foods and/or nutrients. Isolating nutrients from their respective foods leads to confusion and frustration.

Researchers have not verified a “magic bullet” for better health, but there is evidence supporting the importance of variety. Eggs are touted as having one of the highest quality proteins, but they lack other nutrients such as fiber and antioxidants found in whole grains. Dairy is a great source of calcium and potassium, but doesn’t contain the Omega-3 fats you’d find in seafood or walnuts. The total diet approach encourages balance such that all nutrients can be obtained in sufficient quantities.

Understand, however, that the total diet approach is not a ticket to eat less healthful foods without reservation. Although all foods can fit, nutrient rich foods should be the foundation of your diet. Nutrient rich foods are those like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Nutrient poor foods (i.e. foods high in saturated fat or trans fat, alcohol, and sugar-sweetened beverages) should be enjoyed in small portions or suggested serving sizes and remain within the recommendations.

Food is an important part of culture and tradition. Removing certain foods or food groups from your life can create a sense of loss and deprivation. The goal is to create an overall eating pattern, which includes your favorite foods that can be sustained over a lifetime. So you can have your cake and eat it too, but be sure the treats remain a treat, and not a staple.

This fall several  County Extension office are  offering a Free, “Live Healthy, Live Well” Fall Kick Off The Pounds Wellness Challenge .This email challenge can help to improve your overall health and well-being and help you with the total diet approach .This on-line challenge is designed to help participants get fit by encouraging regular exercise, nutrition, and wellness tips. Participants will receive weekly e-communications via blogs, Facebook, and email with tips and recipes to help them get fit.  There will be weekly drawings for prizes to encourage wellness- all participants are eligible to win.  Interested in participating in this on-line challenge?  Look for sign up  information coming in future blogs.

Written By: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, FCS, Wood County and Ryan Leone, Program, Program Assistant, Wood County with IGNITE: Sparking Youth to Create Healthy Communities Project.

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness

Sources:  “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Total Diet Approach to Healthy Eating.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics February (2013): 307-17. Print.

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With a range of medications available to help the 50 million Americans suffering from arthritis many may not know that what you eat can influence your symptoms and alsoartritis hands how the disease progresses.

Rather than supplements in the form of pills, food with certain nutrients can help.

·         Vitamin C about the amount in two oranges (152 milligrams a day) has been found to reduce the progression of osteoarthritis.  Vitamin C plays a role in the formation of cartilage, collagen and proteoglycans.  It also is an antioxidant which helps limit the free-radical oxygen compounds that can damage cartilage.

·         Vitamin D was shown to cut the progression of arthritis.  Living in the northern attitudes especially in the winter, makes it difficult to get enough Vitamin D.  This is the one vitamin that you may need to  supplement.  Vitamin D not only plays a role in bone building it seems to affect the production of collagen.

·         Beta-carotene reduced the progression of arthritis when 9,000 IU were consumed daily.  This was not seen when people consumed 5,000 IU.  Most Americans only get 3,000 to 5,000 IU a day of beta-carotene.  However, you can easily increase your amount by using orange vegetables and fruits.  One medium sweet potato contains 21,909 IU.  fruits-vegetables

·         Vitamin E – In a study with people who had knee osteoarthritis those that consumed 6-11 milligrams of Vitamin E daily (from food) saw a 60% reduction in the progression of the disease over 10 years compared to  those getting 2-5 milligrams daily.  Due to the increased risk of lung cancer, smokers should not take extra Vitamin E or beta-carotene pills.

·         Vitamin K is being studied now.  So far, the study suggests that Vitamin K may slow the progression of osteoarthritis.  Good sources of Vitamin K are spinach, broccoli, leaf lettuce, kale, asparagus and olive, soybean and canola oils.

·         Omega-3 Fatty Acids suppress inflammation in the joint.  This is what causes so much stiffness and pain.  Eating two or more servings of fish (baked or broiled) per week reduced the chance of developing arthritis.   Other sources of omega-3 are flaxseed and nuts.  Canola, soybean and olive oil have some omega-3s.   Best to avoid omega-6 fatty acids found in safflower, sunflower, cottonseed and corn oils.  These are usually also in processed foods and fried foods, so limit your consumption of them.

·         Limit consumption of sugar.   More inflammation has been linked with higher sugar consumption.

· Drink more water         Drink Water.  Water  helps all around from moisturizing, giving support to joints, carrying nutrients and removing wastes from the body.  Some medicines used for arthritis also change your thirst level.  Be sure to drink plenty of water, preferably 8 cups or more a day of liquids.

Eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and protein along with oils rich in omega-3s.  Limit sweets and other fats and oils.  Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains will increase your fiber intake which the Arthritis Foundation says may keep inflammation down.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami Valley EERA

Reviewer:  Elizabeth Smith, R.D., L.D. Northeast Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

References:

Tufts University, [2013]. Eating Right for Healthy Joints, Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter Special Supplement, June 2013.

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4802625827_63cd6f152e_sChildren will soon be returning to school and to the routines that the school year brings. For many families, this means back to the routine of packing a lunch each day.  We want to make sure that the lunches we pack are healthy, safe and delicious!

For a healthy lunch, keep in mind the MyPlate guidance. Check out Choosemyplate.gov . One of the main messages of MyPlate is to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. This is something relatively easy to accomplish in a lunch you pack yourself. For example, pack a whole fruit like an apple, banana, or a bunch of grapes. You can also add an individual container of applesauce or a variety of different fruits that are packed in natural juice. For vegetables, most children like baby carrots especially if you include a small container of low-fat dip! Other veggie favorites are cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers or even a small salad.

Another message from MyPlate is to make at least half of the grains you eat during the day whole grains. Use whole grain bread for the sandwich you pack, try pretzels for a snack instead of potato chips. Whole grain crackers spread with peanut butter or eaten with slices of cheese are a great addition to a healthy lunch.

MyPlate recommends that we consume low fat or fat free dairy products. Most schools make fresh, low fat milk available for children in the lunchroom. The calcium provided by milk is very important to children’s developing bones. If your child is not a milk drinker, you can pack yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese or sliced cheese to help them get the calcium they need each day.

You don’t want to forget the protein group. There are a variety of foods that we can choose from to meet the need for protein in our lunch. If you choose meat, make sure that it is lean. Turkey or lean beef are good choices. Other non-meat sources include eggs, peanut butter, beans, nuts, seeds and soy products.

To pack a safe lunch, remember that any perishable food you pack needs to be kept below 40° to stay safe. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways.

  • Use an insulated lunch bag with a frozen ice pack.
  • Freeze the sandwich, a juice box or yogurt container and pack it in the lunch bag to keep everything safe. By the time lunch rolls around, the sandwich, juice or yogurt should be thawed!

You also want to be careful about cross-contamination. This can happen if you are reusing paper or plastic bags or if you don’t remember to wash out the reusable bag each day. Remind your child to discard wrappers and leftover food as soon as they finish their lunch. Don’t forget the importance of hand washing to prevent the spread of bacteria. If your child won’t have access to warm water and soap before eating, it wouldn’t hurt to put a disposable hand wipe at the top of the lunch bag!

A delicious lunch may not be something that you and your child will necessarily agree on. Be sure and ask them for ideas for a healthy, safe lunch that they would like to eat.  Don’t fall into the peanut butter and jelly every day trap! You might ask your child to help make a list of healthy foods from each section of MyPlate and use that list to vary what is packed each day.

By allowing your child to help plan and pack their own lunch, you are providing an opportunity to talk about making healthy food choices. Encouraging them to make a choice from each of the food groups every day may increase the odds that they will actually eat the lunch that is packed and help them develop good eating habits for life.

Author: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith, R.D., L.D. Northeast Region Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Source:  MyPlate    http://choosemyplate.gov

School Lunches: Add Variety by soliciting the help of your children http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/school_lunches_add_variety_by_soliciting_the_help_of_your_children

What Can I Pack my Kids for Lunch   http://www.ext.colostate.edu/

Healthy Packed Lunches for Back to School http://byf.unl.edu/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=d17c90e6-539d-4ab8-92e7-cbfe2e482647&groupId=4089458&.pdf

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