School lunches or home-cooked meals: Is it worth packing a "snack" for your child

By SSPDaily editionJan 11, 2024 11:44 AMSociety
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Which one is better: school lunches or home-cooked meals
Which one is better: school lunches or home-cooked meals. Source: Pexels.com

If your child comes home from school hungry, should you give him or her a home-cooked meal? It might seem like a rhetorical question, but the problem of childhood obesity makes it more relevant than ever.

The Cleveland Clinic, an online resource, has published tips for parents on what a school lunch should be like. The recommendations include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.

But what about chips, cookies, and other treats that children love?

According to Jane Hyland, a pediatric dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic for Children, these snacks can be included in the diet. Moreover, she says, maintaining a balance between what is considered highly nutritious and simply tasty can be beneficial to health.

"Food doesn't have to be perfect," she says. "We want to reduce the pressure on parents in this regard as much as possible."

"If you add some fun food to the kids' lunch, treat them to sweets or pizza, nothing bad will happen."

Why do children come home from school hungry?

A serious problem, according to Hyland, is that children eat foods high in carbohydrates throughout the day.

"This does not satiate them. So they eat all day, but they eat even more at home."

"They chew on chips and cookies, bars, muesli, and fruit snacks; all of these are from the same food group that we call carbohydrates," she said.

"And this only breaks down sugar in the child's body, and leads to problems with concentration as a result."

Therefore, it is very important to combine all meals with protein and fiber, i.e. fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain products.

Should I give my child a packed lunch or rely on school lunches?

Of course, school lunches are the easiest and most cost-effective option. Of course, if the menu meets the established standards.

Highland believes that if children are eligible for such lunches, they should take advantage of them. However, each child has different dietary needs, so, she explained, it's a good idea to give your child a "brake," especially if they complain about school food.

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