Dairy Farmers of Utah: Kids Lunches

In the report from Action for Healthy Kids, studies show children who have a blaanced diet and reach daily recommendations for nutrients like calcium perform better in the classroom. The report suggests getting children excited about healthful eating is key and that parents should include them in the decision process. Whether it’s the high concentration of vitamins and minerals in dairy rich foods or the brightly-colored fruits and vegetables and whole grains, shake up your child’s typical lunch and make lunchtime a hit with him or her.

Rachel Jones talks about what you should know about making your child "recession-proof" nutritionally.

Q: With so many fast food options now found in school cafeterias, how can I get my child excited about eating better foods, like dairy products?
A: Get them involved in the decision making process and allow them to take ownership in planning their lunch menu. If they’re packing a lunch from home, teach children how to prepare soups, salads and pasta sauces to divert from the traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Make a small nutrition cheat sheet they can keep in their backpacks if they’d rather have school lunch—highlighting ways to get their 3-a-day.

Q: What about my younger children who are too little to pack their own lunches. What can I do to get them excited as well?
A: Allow children to add a personal touch to their lunch. For example, let kids draw a design with food coloring on the slice of whole-grain bread used for their sandwich. Dress with their choice of cheese, vegetables–like tomato slices, avocado, cucumber, or lettuce.

Q: Does school lunch provide my child with the right nutrition levels he/she needs?
A: Schools have done a better job in providing our children with healthy choices and it is getting better. But instead of focusing on getting rid of “unhealthy” food, we should focus on increasing nutrient-rich food groups. Teaching our children healthy habits is the best way to guarantee they reach the nutrition recommendations.

Q: How do I keep my child from falling into a nutrient recession with other American adolescents?
A: The keys to conquering nutrient recession are action and prevention. Statistics show that children and adolescents are increasingly suffering from inadequate intake of essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D in the foods they choose. As adults, we should be leading by example and teaching our kids right from the start how easy it is to incorporate dairy products in their food choices.

Q: What options do I have if my child doesn’t like to drink milk?
A: One of the great things about milk is the variety of ways you can incorporate it. If your child doesn’t like drinking milk plain, poor it over a bowl of calcium fortified cereal. You can make a healthy smoothie adding milk, yogurt and fruit, or let your child choose flavored milk like chocolate or strawberry.

Q: How can dairy help my child do better in school?
A: In the Action for Healthy Kids report, they state a growing body of evidence indicates that poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and obesity are directly associated with lower levels of student achievement. Dairy products are packed full of essential nutrients like calcium, potassium, phosphorus and protein. They are also a great way to rebuild and repair muscles after working out. All of these benefits keep nutrition high and encourage physical activity.

Q: I worry about what my kids eat when I’m not there. What are some quick snack options that I can feel good about?
A: There are so many simple foods that you can feel good about and that your kids will love. String cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese are just a few. You can also pair these with fruits or veggies.

Q: How can I teach my teen about nutrition, when I’m not an expert?
A: The best way for anyone to decide what to eat is to look at colors. We want to be eating several different colors of fruits, vegetables, meats and diary. You want your plate to look beautiful and full of color.

Q. Why should parents be concerned about children’s bone health?
A. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) by around age 20, the average person has acquired about 98 percent of his or her skeletal mass. In other words, the bone mass built during childhood and adolescence helps determine lifetime risk of fractures and osteoporosis later in life. Consuming 3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy foods each day will help ensure building optimal bone mass early in life and maintain strong bones.

Q: What are the benefits of eating 3 servings of dairy foods a day?
A: Dairy foods provide a powerful package of nine essential nutrients including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamins A, D, B12, riboflavin and niacin (niacin equivalents).Studies show dairy foods, when consumed as part of a healthy diet, may help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, hypertension, obesity, colon cancer and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Q: How much do we currently fall short on calcium?
A: Research shows that on average, Americans are eating only half of the recommended 3 servings of dairy foods per day.
· Ninety percent of preteen girls and 70 percent of preteen boys (ages 9-13) do not meet current calcium recommendations.
· Nearly nine out of 10 teenage girls and almost seven out of 10 teenage boys (ages 14-18) don’t meet daily calcium recommendations.
Q: What should I teach my child about nutrient-rich foods?
A: Nutrient-rich foods should be the basis of daily eating plans. They are brightly colored fruits, vibrant vegetables, whole-grain and fiber-rich foods, nuts, lean meats, poultry, and most importantly low fat or fat free milk, yogurt and cheese. We should teach our kids to look for these foods first. This is one way we can insure they are fitting these important foods into their diets, getting more nutrients for fewer calories, and leaving less appetite for desserts and other unhealthy snacks.

The Utah State Fair is coming up and the Dairy Council of Utah is proud to present the 11th annual Butter Sculpture. This year’s Butter Sculpture, the "Double Quick Butter Kick" is depicting a whimsical kick line made out of 700 pounds of butter. This is also the 11th year Debbie Brown and Matt McNaughton have sculpted. Check out the sculpture in the Promontory Building of the Utah State Fair from Sept 4-14.

The Dairy Council of Utah is also sponsoring the Annual Ice Cream Festival. Who doesn’t love ice cream? So this Monday, Sept 8, come to the Specialty tent from 3-5PM at the Utah State Fair. Brought to you by the Dairy Farmers of Utah and Meadow Gold.

For more information about the Dairy Council of Utah, go to their website at www.utahdairycouncil.com

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