Back to school tips for packing a healthy lunch - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Back to school tips for packing a healthy lunch

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Lunchables are a very convenient and popular lunch item, but O'Hare says they shouldn't be the norm. Lunchables are a very convenient and popular lunch item, but O'Hare says they shouldn't be the norm.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Back to school means it's time to get back to packing kids' lunches. Packing a healthy lunch may not be as tough as some parents think.

Registered dietician Candice O’Hare with the Healthy Way at Saint Francis Medical Center took Heartland News along on a trip to the grocery store to point out what should and should not end up in the lunch box.

O'Hare says parents should be wary of pre-packaged foods.

"With prepackaged food you are typically going to get higher sodium, higher saturated fat," O'Hare said. "This is a turkey wrap. Small portion, it's 220 calories for one of these wraps - which is okay, but the sodium is 950 milligrams. That's 40% of what an adult needs in a day."

Lunchables are a very convenient and popular lunch item, but O'Hare says they shouldn't be the norm.

"I'm not going to say this is something you should never do, because it is convenient, but looking at what other nutritious foods you're bringing in to your child's lunch."

Fruits and veggies are always a plus, O'Hare says. If you don't have time to slice fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit cups or canned fruit are a great alternative.

"They are a great source of vitamins and minerals," O'Hare said. "You want to make sure it’s in 100% fruit juice versus a lightly sweetened fruit juice in there. Applesauce is another great option. You want to look for no sugar added."

O'Hare says fruit snacks and fruit rollups are fine as a snack - but don't look at them as a replacement for actual fruit. She says peanut butter is a high-protein healthy snack option great for getting kids to eat fruits and veggies.

"You can use it with celery with apples," O'Hare said.

As far as sugary snacks - O'Hare says kids are kids and there's no way you can eliminate cookies and cakes completely; just serve them in moderation.

"Obviously we're going to have our snacks," said O'Hare. "We're going to have Oreos and things like that, but make sure it's not a staple - something that every single day we have to be packing these snacky type processed foods."

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