It’s that time of year once again! Summer adventures come to a close as school is back in session. Most of us are sad to see the summer go as it brings sunshine, family outings and vacations, and plenty of outdoor activities. However, there is something positive about the routine that the school year brings. As many of us are creatures of habit, the structure of scheduled days and evenings are comfortable, and breed predictability for children and parents alike.
Nutrition is a key part of supporting our immune system through this seasonal transition into fall. Children are often more susceptible to the common cold and flu as their exposure is greater during time at school. Packing healthy lunches can be a great way to boost your child’s immune system through providing healthy food choices - after all, food is medicine!
For those of us without children, there are still certain notions that come along with the arrival of September - such as the innate change in eating and exercise habits as the weather shifts, and preparing the immune system for the coming months. Packing healthy lunches can also be a great way to enhance nutrition, boost the immune system, and avoid the afternoon slump that typically follows a highly processed, fast food lunch.
Healthy Lunch Ideas (Choose 1 Main Dish (Protein) + 2 Vegetables + 1 Fruit)
Main Dish (Protein-Rich Options):
- Meat Sticks: think chicken, beef, or lamb kabobs on a bamboo stick, with or without veggies, and side of mustard for dipping
- Quinoa Salad: get creative with cooked quinoa by adding vegetables and legumes, and dress with oil & vinegar and salt & pepper
- Rice Paper Rolls: using rice paper wraps as the base, add any combination of sliced vegetables, meat, organic tofu and vermicelli noodles - crunchy peanut butter is great for dipping if nut-containing foods are packable
- Hummus Platter: served with vegetable sides and sliced pita bread for dipping
- Hard Boiled Eggs: 1-2 eggs boiled and sliced in half, served with a full leaf of kale or romaine lettuce and 1/4 sliced avocado for a ‘build your own’ egg salad sandwich
Vegetables (Consider a side of hummus for dipping!):
- Snap Peas: 1 handful
- Baby Carrots: 10-15
- Sliced Celery: 2 ribs
- Sliced Cucumber: 1/2 full cucumber
- Cherry Tomatoes: 1 handful
Fruit (Consider a side of plain Greek yogurt or dairy-free alternative for dipping!):
- Berries: 1 cup or less
- Grapes: 1 handful
- Melon: 1 cup or less
- Sliced Apple: sprinkled with cinnamon
- Sliced Pear: sprinted with cinnamon and a pinch of ground ginger
Reminder: Salads are also a great option for lunch! But remember, consuming high amounts of raw vegetables can be difficult on digestion. Also, lightly steamed and warming foods are supportive of digestion as we enter into fall.
Happy packing! Stay tuned for upcoming articles regarding supplements that will boost the immune system and help fight off cold and flu season!
Dr. Sarah Silverman