Whether your kids are learning on-site or from your own home, send your kids to school with nutrient-packed lunches that’ll keep their brains and bodies functioning well (and keep hunger pangs at bay) throughout the day. Here are some tips from Hartsdale-based Leslie Anders, MS, RDN, CDN, who specializes in nutrition counseling for children and adolescents.
Between ages 4 and 18, 130 grams of carbs are required per day, but teens or athletes may require up to 400 grams per day (it can vary greatly depending on the person). Lunch should supply a quarter to a third of daily carbohydrates. Whole grain and brown rice breads and wraps are a good source of complex carbohydrates.
The requirements for calcium, iron, and zinc are greater during adolescence. Calcium can come from cow’s milk (stick to 1-percent or skim) or almond/soy milk. It can also come from other non-dairy sources like arugula or almonds. For iron, try turkey or a plant-based source like beans, raisins, or spinach. Chickpeas are a great source of zinc, so pack hummus.
Fat and protein requirements increase with maturity, especially for males. (Males 14 to 18 years old require 52 grams of protein per day, while females in that age range require 46 grams.) Good sources of protein include poultry, nuts, and (again) chickpeas. Using avocado as a spread on a sandwich can provide healthy fats in addition to making your child feel satiated.
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of fiber and can be incorporated into a lunch as a snack. (Use that hummus as a dip for veggies.)