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Why and how to help your kids find food freedom

If you’ve been doing the research and you’re gearing up for a Whole30, you might start to wonder if your whole family should join you. Ever had a perfectly nice day at the park ruined by cries for ice cream? Or have a whole bag of chips disappear in the hands of your toddler? Intellectually, […]

Whole30 School Lunch Ideas (Plus, Why Every Kid Needs Whole30) - Real Plans

If you’ve been doing the research and you’re gearing up for a Whole30, you might start to wonder if your whole family should join you.

Ever had a perfectly nice day at the park ruined by cries for ice cream? Or have a whole bag of chips disappear in the hands of your toddler? Intellectually, we know that this is not a healthy relationship with snack foods, but too often this seems like an inevitable outcome of childhood. It doesn’t have to be.

Food freedom isn’t a lifetime of diets and restrictions. It’s listening to the messages your body gives after eating and being able to make healthy choices that aren’t based on cravings or habits. This is something that kids can understand.

Whole30 can be healthy for the whole family. But remember, especially with kids, it’s not about enforcing strict food rules and making them feel deprived. It’s about the all-important lesson that what you eat matters. Whole30 is a great way to get kids thinking about how food makes them feel and what they really want to do to fuel themselves.

When doing Whole30 with your kid, you won’t be able to control snacks the teacher offers at school. Or keep your kid from eating “off limit” foods while you’re not around. But you can influence what they eat for breakfast, dinner, and what you pack in the lunchbox.

Whole30 school lunch ideas

While Whole30 does have guidelines on portion sizes for each meal, you can simplify things by starting with protein (like meat or eggs) and filling up the rest of your kid’s lunchbox with plant-based foods like veggies and fresh fruit.

When offering veggies, stick to what you know your kid loves. Maybe it’s roasted carrots, charred broccoli, or some almond butter on celery. And when offering fruit, see if you can shop for fruit that’s local, in season, and organic. Even better, let your kid shop with you and pick out which fruit and veggies go into his lunchbox.

Typically, your protein will be full of high-quality fats. But if you want to add more for good measure, try coconut flakes and use a variety of oils when cooking and for food prep. They all have their own unique nutritional profile of fatty acids and vitamins.

Here are some more Whole30-compliant school lunch ideas that work as a snack too, since little ones generally need to eat more often:

Protein – Rolled up roast beef, octopus hot dogs, meatballs on a pick, coconut chicken nuggets, leftover chicken cut into cubes, and prosciutto and egg roll-ups

Fat – Olives, avocado or a simple guacamole, seed and nut butters, coconut flakes

Carbs – Spiralized raw beets, jicama sticks, thin ribbons of raw carrot (use a vegetable peeler), roasted veggies, cherry tomato kabobs, sweet potato fries, silicone cupcake liners filled with berries

Save time in the kitchen

When you can, save time and energy by preparing your kid’s school lunch the night before during dinner cleanup. Usually, leftovers are always a good idea. If it was a dinner success, you can be sure your kid will eat the same food for lunch the next day. And bonus: leftovers make for easy prep.

If using leftovers, jazz it up so that lunch feels special. Put food on wooden picks, use cookie cutters and make fun shapes, add something fresh, and pack each item in its own section using a bento box.

Make healthy eating fun

Just remember, your Whole30 and your kid’s are not the same. Just because he had some ice cream at school doesn’t mean that he failed. It’s just a great opportunity to talk about real food and how it makes him feel.

Also, just because someone in your family didn’t stay compliant, doesn’t mean your Whole30 is over. Your kids will learn best from your healthy example.

 

Emily Bartlett

About Emily Bartlett

Emily Bartlett is the co-founder and CEO of RealPlans.com. She's also a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Chinese medicine, a published author, a wife, and a mom of two. Emily hopes to make meal planning easier and inspire families to share more meals around the table.

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