What Happens in the Cafeteria?

By Elizabeth A. Allen


What fate awaits your kid’s lunch after the brown bag leaves your hands?


According to a recent survey by Oscar Mayer and KRC Research, 73 percent of kids admitted to throwing out part of their lunch at least once a week. The nationwide survey of 1,000 children and 1,000 moms also found that 36 percent of kids trade away items at least once a week.


While you may prepare your children’s meals with nutrition in mind, they may have other ideas.


“Chips or other salty snacks” and “sweets or candy” tied for second place as kids’ favorite lunch item, on the heels of the main dish. Meanwhile, vegetables ranked as the least liked lunch food, with 41 percent of boys and 36 percent of girls saying “yuck!”


Given their taste for the sweet and the salty, it’s not surprising that kids trade parts of their lunch for sugar- or salt-laden snacks. Chips, sweets or candy, and other snacks (including cookies) are the most desirable items to swap for.


So what’s a parent to do?


Be a good example. If you eat responsibly and exercise regularly yourself, your actions will speak louder than any words you might have about good nutrition.

Stash quick-and-easy health foods.
Precut vegetables with low-fat or yogurt-based dips, small packs of dried fruits, low-fat string cheeses and the like can bring taste, nutrition and convenience into your kid’s lunchbox.