Better Choices for Healthier Families: What’s in Your Child’s Lunch Box?

The top three 2016 New Year’s Resolutions were: Lose weight, get healthy, and find balance in our daily lives. The average person discards these resolutions before January’s end. We say things like “When you have children, life gets crazy,” or maybe you think you have too much on your plate. But what if I suggested the answer is as simple as what is on your plate?

Resolutions are easier to keep when we do them together. Families everywhere are making a commitment to be healthier, and it couldn’t be a better time to do it! Childhood obesity is at an all-time high in the United States. According to the CDC and the American Heart Association, “One in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese.” That is up 7% from 1980 and nearly triple the rate in 1963. Childhood obesity brings with it a whole host of potential problems that previously existed only in adults. Some include high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and elevated blood cholesterol levels. These children are also likely to suffer low self-esteem and depression. Let’s face it, moms, we worked hard for 40 weeks to create these perfect beings, we can’t let a little thing like poor nutrition ruin that, right?

Of course, we could point fingers at school lunches or curtailed recess policies, even genetics. But these are out of our control. However, we CAN control what they eat and the activities we share with them outside of school. And that will make all the difference.

Life is busy, I know. When our kids were in school, there were days when I felt successful if they were dressed and made it to school on time WITH their backpack! Packing a healthy lunch? I thought you only did that for field trips. That is, until I learned what they were eating. Here are a few fast facts:

The Happy Meal Lunchables Average Students Lunchbox
Calories       610

Total Fat        22g

Cholesterol     25mg

Sodium        665mg

Total Carbs      90g

Dietary Fiber   5g

Sugars            35g

Protein           14g

Calories          480

Total Fat        21g

Cholesterol     50mg

Sodium           915mg

Total Carbs       58g

Sugars               32g

Protein               16g

Calories       775

Total Fat     32 g



Carbs             112g

Sugars           47g

Today it is easier than ever to crack the healthy lunch code. There’s an app for that!

“Shopwell” is an app designed by licensed nutritionists that helps take out all the guesswork. It is available free for smartphones, tablets, and Kindle Fire. Here’s how it works: download the app and set up your profile. You will need to enter your age, gender, and name. It will then ask you what your goals are, for example: weight loss, healthy diet, specific health condition management, and even allergies. It is important to be as specific as you can, so that the app can really work for you. Next, it will ask if there are foods you’d like to avoid, such as gluten, peanuts, soy, sesame, wheat, tree nuts, corn, and sulfites.

This app also allows you to create and save grocery lists, find foods that match your needs (and offer alternatives), and provides a complete nutritional breakdown for each item. Sync it up to your local grocery store, and you are ready to start scanning! I highly recommend this app. As a mother, teacher and school director, if I had this app, I think it would have made all the difference.

Making a choice to have a healthier family is a group effort. Studies show that children who are involved in the planning and preparation of meals are more likely to eat them, and will become more adventurous eaters! In addition to a healthier diet, the American Heart Association recommends at least 60 minutes of exercise each day for children and families, like family bike rides or walks. By changing a few simple routines (with the help of technology) your family will have a healthier, happier New Year.