As students make their way back to school one of the top areas of focus are the food selections available in lunch cafeterias.

Depending upon where you live, restaurants offer food selections that range from submarine sandwiches to pizza to chocolate chip cookies (Yep, we are getting hungry too!) in addition to the normal school lunch program.

So what are the best choices for lunch? Well, let’s explore that.

Bring Your Own Lunch. This has long been a favorite of many school goers. Why? By bringing your own lunch to school you are able control what you eat and, you know exactly what you are eating which offers peace of mind for some students and parents. In addition, if portion control is extremely important, it can best be monitored by bringing your own lunch.

  • Upside – Offers portion control and quality control of the foods eaten.
  • Downside – Not glamorous and may open some students up to being bullied.
  • Food Favorites – Wraps made with whole wheat tortillas, containing either lean cold cuts or low fat cream cheese topped with veggie slices.

School Lunch. This option offers a great convenience factor of not having to prepare and bring a lunch to school. There is some disagreement as to whether school lunches are more cost-effective than a student brining their own lunch to school. Despite that argument, there are federal standards for school lunch programs that offer fairly well balanced meal choices to students.

  • Upside – Offers convenience at a low price point for parents.
  • Downside – May promote students avoiding the healthy foods that they should be eating.
  • Food Favorites – Lettuce salads with vegetables and minimal use of dressings, or, burritos with rice and black beans.

Restaurants and Commercial Vendors. Yes, restaurants are in your child’s school cafeteria. From vending machines all the way to franchise restaurants chains operating in the lunch line. These types of foods include soda, cookies, pizza, submarine sandwiches, hamburgers, tacos, and other types of restaurant style fast food. This option also offers a great convenience factor of not having to prepare and bring a lunch to school.

  • Upside – Offers convenience and flavor.
  • Downside – Foods may offer higher than needed amounts of saturated fat, sugars, and sodium.
  • Food Favorites – Seek foods that offer the best choices for low sodium and sugar. Lean meats with a submarine sandwich without cheese are a good option. Also, indulgences in foods such as pizza are better if they contain vegetables and not meats high in saturated fat.

Did You Know?

No matter what your choice of lunch will be tomorrow at school, Dr. Dorothy recommends that you brush your teeth and floss 10 to 20 minutes after you eat. Acids that can wear away at the enamel on your teeth increase during these time frames just after eating a sugary snack.