NEWMARKET – As parents we want to help our children start the school year on the right track. And part of this means providing our children with healthy lunches. But what about us? Nutritionists from York Region Health Services Department, want parents to also take the time to ensure that they have healthy meals and snacks during the day… whether at work or on-the-go.
Our bodies need a constant source of energy throughout the day. That means eating every three to four hours or having three meals and two to three snacks. Without regular food, we may feel tired, find it hard to concentrate and be irritable.
The type of foods we choose to eat is also important to get us through the day energetically and productively. In general, lower fat and higher fibre foods from the four food groups of Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating are healthy choices.
Eating foods from at least 3 out of the 4 food groups for each meal and at least 2 food groups for snacks is a great way to ensure that you are getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals. For example, a whole wheat bagel with lower fat cheese and juice is a very nutritious breakfast. Likewise, lower fat yogurt with fruit, make an excellent snack.
If there is a fridge at work, perishable items can be stored for assembling nutritious meals and snacks. It is just a matter of remembering to bring the foods to work. Most workplaces also have microwave ovens and toasters in the lunchrooms. That is all you really need to put together quick, healthy meals and snacks.
Some examples of healthy meals that can be prepared in less than 5 minutes, provided basic cooking facilities are available, include:
• Yogurt with whole grain cereal and fruit juice
• Whole grain cereal with milk and dried fruit
• English muffin with cheese and juice
• Peanut butter on whole grain bread with chocolate milk
• Lower fat frozen entrée with a whole grain roll and fruit
• Salad with canned tuna fish and a whole wheat roll
• Reheated leftovers from the previous evening dinner
• Dried soup/noodle mixtures (continued)
(Healthy Eating is important for PARENTS too!)
For those of you who are stay at home parents and are out doing errands during the day, it is important to plan for lunch and snack breaks. That means packing some healthy foods that you can take along with you while you are out. If you go for more than six hours without food, you may end up overeating at your next meal as well as making poor nutritional choices.
Some examples of healthy, non-perishable snacks that you can take with you during the day include:
• Fruit cup
• Pudding cup
• Peanut butter and crackers
• Fresh fruit
• Dried fruit
• Lower fat granola bars or cereal bars
• 100% fruit or vegetable juice
Don’t neglect your health! Start YOUR school year off on the right track, too. Healthy eating is just as important for adults as it is for children. When you are making your children’s lunches, take time to pack some healthy foods for yourself. Whether you go to work everyday or are “out and about”, healthy eating may make you feel more energetic and will help you think clearer.
For accurate, reliable and current nutrition information, speak to a Registered Dietitian at York Region Health Services Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653 or visit www.york.ca
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Contact: Kim Clark, York Region Health Services