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The 12 Worst Things You Can Pack for Your Kid’s Lunch

The 12 Worst Things You Can Pack for Your Kid’s Lunch

Back to school not only means back to the books, it means back to the bad lunches. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Eating patterns that begin in elementary and middle school may encourage poor eating habits into adulthood. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that childhood obesity starts in the home, and introducing healthy foods should be a top priority for parents.

Click here for The 12 Worst Things You Can Pack for Your Kids Lunch slideshow.

Before even considering which food items to pack, it is important to think carefully about beverages. The Harvard School of Public Health states that the consumption of sugary beverages, such as soda, is a contributing factor in the rise in obesity. The standard size of a soda bottle has increased immensely since the 1950s, when it only measured 6.5 ounces. Today, the average soda bottle measures 20 ounces. A study published in Pediatrics observed a change in BMI after having subjects decrease sugar-sweetened beverage consumption.

I spoke with Gaby Wilday, founder of No Fuss Lunch, about the importance of a healthy school lunch. No Fuss Lunch is a lunch delivery program that has become a catalyst for healthier school-served lunches across the Tri-state area. Children need foods that drive their performance and don’t leave them feeling sluggish or unmotivated. For a nutritious sandwich, for instance, it is important to focus on whole-grain and fiber-rich bread. Incorporating whole grains into the diet has been linked to the prevention of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

When adding fruits and vegetables to a school lunch, it may be helpful to disguise them. For example, roast vegetables to make them into chips that you can serve with a side of hummus. Fruit can be paired with peanut butter or plain Greek yogurt to make the snack more appealing. Keep in mind that children will opt for soda or sugary drinks if given the choice, but natural fruit-flavored water or a calcium-rich drink, such as milk, are both healthy alternatives. Now that you know a few foods that make lunchtime nutritious, read on for nine things you should never pack in your little one’s lunchbox.

Artificial Dyes


Start reading exactly what is in the packaged food you serve your children. “Studies suggest that the increasing use of dyes in our food supply leads to hyperactivity, chromosomal issues, lymphoma, and tumors,” Wilday explains.

Candy


Unfortunately, candy has absolutely zero nutritional value and is high in sugar. Instead, give your children sweet but nutrient-dense alternatives. “Something like watermelon or berries will give them the bright colors they see in candy and a sweetness that is good for them,” Wilday says.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.


6 Clean Brown-Bag Lunches Both You and Your Kid Will Love

The two-for-one lunch&mdasha single meal that both you and your kid(s) will happily eat&mdashis the holy grail of busy mornings. But how do you achieve it? Start right here: We've gathered the best lunchbox inspiration from across the blogosphere. These are six of our favorite ideas for lunches that make everybody happy:

Healthy Avocado Chicken Salad

This kid-friendly take on chicken salad from Family Fresh Meals swaps out some of the mayo for Greek yogurt and creamy avocado. Stuff it in a whole wheat pita for perfect portable satisfaction.

Roast Beef Roll Ups and Mixed Berries

It doesn't get much easier than this Paleo-friendly lunch from Nom Nom Paleo: Simply slice up your favorite veggies, wrap in your favorite meat, and tie it all up with an adorable little chive knot&mdashor, you know, a toothpick. (She's got tons of ideas for tasty dipping sauces, too!)

Mini Frittata

It only takes 20 minutes and six ingredients (plus a little salt and pepper) to make this high-protein lunch by Oh Sweet Day. The frittatas can even be stored in the freezer for a full month, if you're a make-ahead maven.

Mediterranean Cucumber Roll Ups

These crunchy little bites from The Wholesome Dish have a fun party-food feel. Make them as-is for a vegetarian lunch, or up the protein factor with a little sliced turkey.

Sandwich on a Stick

There's something about putting ordinary foods on a skewer that makes them endlessly more entertaining. Check out these tasty combinations developed by Two Peas and Their Pod.

Make-Ahead Fruit & Yogurt Parfaits

You love yogurt at breakfast: Why not try it for lunch? These colorful parfaits from Iowa Girl Eats work with any fruit you like, and you can make them up to 3 days in advance.