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October 5, 2010

Are your lunches as healthy as your child's?

Each week the University of Maryland Medical Center will provide a post on nutrition topics. Have nutrition questions or ideas for future topics? Email This week, Karen Kolowski, RD, CNSD, LDN, weighs in on healthy lunches.

As you start to plan healthy school lunches for your children, let those good habits carry over into your own workday lunch. If you do a little planning, there won't be any scrambling to make lunch  in the morning.

Get Creative

How can you plan a winning lunch that won't end up being tossed for the donut tray in the snack room? First, start with making selections from at least three different food groups. Choices include: fruits, vegetables, dairy, (whole) grains, meats, beans, fish and nuts. Then play with the appearance, orange rings rather than slices, carrot circles instead of plain sticks or melon balls ... get creative and have fun!

Fun Finger Foods

Fun finger foods are favorites as well as classics with a twist. Mini carrots, baby corn and sugar snap peas are more fun when packed with hummus. Fruit cut up into cubes with yogurt can be a sweet dessert for any time of the year. Making "sushi" will make you the hit of the lunch table. Avocado, almond butter or cucumber rolled up in whole-wheat tortilla cut into bite sized pieces will be gobbled up. Hard-boiled eggs, grape tomatoes and blueberries are quick mouth poppers and smile makers as well. Think mini, such as muffins (homemade with the children's help) and bagels.

Don't Lose it: Use it

Don't forget about leftovers and hot meals. Buying a stylish yet sturdy thermos can help you eat healthy and warm meals throughout the cold months. Soup with whole wheat crackers or chili with a baggie full of low-fat cheddar cheese can both be winners. It's best if the soup is homemade, possibly from weekend leftovers, since it is usually lower in salt. Pre-packaged individual soups not only create more waste with a bigger carbon footprint, but usually have more salt content than homemade soup. You can also use your favorite dinner meal warmed up and stored in a thermos to make sure the food does not go in the trash.

Sip Happy

Don't forget the drinks to stay hydrated. Limiting sugar intake is important for both kids and parents. Low fat milk, water with sugar-free flavorings (if needed) and 100 percent fruit juice are all good choices. Avoid soda.

Make the Effort

So, remember to think before you pack that lunch! Small changes and a little prep-work will pay off. All that great food will reward your's and your kids' bodies with more energy, stronger bones and muscles, and increased brain power.

What are your lunch tricks? Share them in the comments.

Posted by Kim Walker at 12:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Nutrition


Great post! Adults need to make sure their lunches are as good as their child's lunch. My favorite website for healthy snack ideas is

Great thoughts! I want to share my lunch website with you and all your readers. It is for people of all ages who take their lunch, whether it is work, school, camp, on a trip .. whatever. It is so easy to make good healthy lunches and my site helps to inspire you. Everything on the site has nutrition information and a picture. There's even a section where you can group items together and see the nutritional content of your entire lunch. Have fun with lunch :) Amy

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Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
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Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
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Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
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