Henry Ford Health Dietitian: Improve healthy eating habits with Homemade Lunches

DETROIT Everyone knows them, kids everywhere love them. Lunchables have been on store shelves and in school lunches everywhere since 1985. But a Consumer Reports study has many parents worried after high levels of sodium and lead were found in select Lunchables from different brands. That’s why many families are trying to figure out healthier alternatives to convenient grab-and-go kits that maintain the same appeal to kids that Lunchables offers, while allowing busy families the same convenience that pre-made snacks offer.

To help with that, Local 4’s Rhonda Walker sat down with Dietitian Henry Ford and Michigan Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2024 Dietitian of the Year Ashlee Carnahan to explore what you should and shouldn’t have should be in these homemade lunch kits.

Everything is fine in moderation, but that has no real nutritional benefit, Carnahan explained, addressing the Lunchables on store shelves. There’s no fiber, there’s no antioxidants, there’s really minimal protein, so that will not provide you with a good meal. to help you feel satisfied.

When creating a healthier homemade lunch, Carnahan suggested a more protein-focused kit, starting with fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are great antioxidant foods that can help prevent cancer. She explained. He also explained that food also provides a great source of healthy energy.

Hummus was also a good recommended source of protein and healthy fats, while providing a satisfying dip for any vegetables included in these kits.

Carnahan also suggested lower-sodium cheeses, such as mozzarella and Swiss, which also continue to provide another great source of protein.

For those who can, nuts are also a great source of protein that were suggested for use in these homemade lunch kits. All nuts are healthy in moderation, Carnahan explained, giving you good protein and healthy fats as well.

Carnahan also recommended a couple tablespoons of honey as a sweeter inclusion in these homemade lunch kits, drawing from an example with her own daughter. You can only pour a couple spoonfuls in and he said he wanted to dip his apple in it. that, and I said, you know what? If that makes you want to eat an apple, a little sugar in honey is definitely fine.

When these homemade kits were actually put together, it was also suggested that the children be involved in making them. If children actually make the food, they are more likely to eat those healthy foods.

For other inclusions in these kits, Carnahan urges parents to look at the nutrition labels; looking for things like protein and fiber content, definitely look at protein content; how much protein does your child get from it. Look at fiber, these are two big components to a healthy and complete meal.

She also suggested making sure you follow the recommended amounts of sodium in these snacks and be mindful of preservatives. It depends on your age, but in general, you don’t want to exceed 2 to 300 mg of sodium in a packaged meal.

Finally, for a family presentation, Carnahan suggested these reusable snack containers that can provide the same presentation that Lunchables offer and allow for the same convenience when trying to prepare these snacks, while being largely inexpensive.

While the new data on prepackaged snacks is troubling, as Carnahan demonstrates, there’s no need to give up on the convenience of these quick grab-and-go kits. By following these guidelines, parents can ensure that their child is getting the desired and needed amount of nutrients, while having the same convenience, fun and taste that Lunchables provides.

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