Some Useful Tricks On How to Pack a Quick, Healthy Lunch

With the chaos that accompanies the getting back to school season ramping up come some inevitable chores like school supply shopping, there is also getting a new work wardrobe, and a huge list of activities to worry about. Naturally, one of those activities is preparing lunch for the kids and the adults. Still, packing lunch doesn’t have to come with additional stress, so here are some useful tricks from Mary Ellen Phipps, a dietitian and proud mother to two little girls.

Keeping a Lunch Nutritionally Simple Is Crucial for a Healthy Diet

Woman preparing delicious sandwich with cheese and green salad

Choosing and preparing healthy food for lunch is pretty easy, and Phipps has shared some of her expert tips for a good, healthy meal during the fall. Her first rule of thumb is to keep things simple, in a nutritional sense. Whether the lunch is for an adult or a kid, fiber, protein, and good fats should be the priority. These three things will keep blood sugar levels stable while maintaining great energy levels.

Preparing to pack lunch ahead of time is also very important. During the week, lunches for adults and kids should be almost the same to get things done faster. Phipps recommends prepping fruits and veggies on the weekend by washing and chopping them to be ready for the week ahead. This can be done very easily with cucumbers and bell peppers, and carrots and blueberries can be washed in advance. This way, a lunchbox can be packed very fast by including the fruits and veggies and adding things like hard-boiled eggs, cheese, walnuts, and a mustard dip.

Parents Should Not Forget to Prepare Lunch for Themselves as Well

Healthy lunch box with sandwich and fresh vegetables, bottle of water and fruits on wooden background. From top view

While moms and dads can be quite busy, Phipps stresses that they should not forget about their lunches while focusing on those for the kids. The easiest way to do that is to prepare the adults’ lunches at the same time as those for the kids to ensure everyone is well fed. Every lunch should have at least one fruit, one veggie, and one whole grain source, as well as one or two protein sources. All these are vital for staying full and satisfied, but the fruits and vegetables come with the added benefit of vitamins and minerals.

When in Doubt, Making Turkey Sandwiches Is Always a Good Call

When there are too many or no other options, a simple solution is to make turkey sandwiches for lunch. When done right, a turkey sandwich offers protein, whole grains, and lots of flavors. Nitrate-free lunch meats are the preferable choice in those cases. Again, preparing all of the components ahead of time is a good way to save time, so having them ready to assemble in the morning is a plus. Kids often like a bit of mustard or mayo with turkey, and cheese and cucumbers can also be added.

A turkey sandwich

Mary Ellen Phipps advises that busy parents should keep in mind how important it is to stay hydrated. It’s even more crucial to hydrate during the day, and it is just as important for the kids to intake plenty of fluids. While plain water will do the trick, it often gets boring for the kids, and it is there that preparing a batch of unsweetened iced tea for the week is a great idea.

Making Fun of a Child’s Crush or Love Interest Can Be Harmful

Even the most progressive parent can occasionally hear harmful things come out of their mouth. But how bad can a joke about your kids’ love life be? Many of us have made joke predictions like “He’ll be my future son-in-law” or “Those two will be future spouses” without really thinking about what they imply. Experts argue that the harm done to our children by instilling heterosexual ideals in them is genuine, especially if they are LGBTQ+.

Making Fun of a Child’s Crush or Love Interest Can Be Harmful

“Kids acquire a sense of what they’re told, what’s acceptable for them,” says Ellen Kahn, senior director of programs and alliances at Human Rights Campaign, the United States’ largest LGBTQ+ advocacy organization. She claims that it’s subtle statements from well-intentioned parents that unknowingly “plant those seeds early on” that cause internal struggle in children.

Internal conflict isn’t limited to households with outright homophobic ideas, as Kahn points out. According to the TransYouth Project, children as young as five have a defined gender identification. As a result, little statements with heteronormative connotations might endanger a child’s well-being and damage their sense of belonging over time.

That also applies to gender-normative beliefs. Haven’t we all been at the playground where a parent exclaimed, “Look, she has a tiny boyfriend!” when it was simply two kids playing house and having a good time? As an adult, it’s easy to lose yourself in the humor while joking about love, to grin and nod along — after all, it’s the only positive setting in which we’ve permitted boys and girls to connect, or for boys to display their more feminine, nurturing side. However, the consequences of this form of taunting can be severe and long-lasting.

Renata Sanders, M.D., M.P.H., Sc.M., professor of adolescent and young adult medicine and gender identity at Johns Hopkins University, believes making jokes regarding a child’s sexual or gender identity “tells them that this is not a safe space … It has the potential to further isolate them.” That’s on top of the fact that they already feel vulnerable, “You already stand out as an LGBTQ+ child, like a sore thumb … You have a sense of being alone,” she continues.

How to Be a More Inclusive Parent

We can be gender-affirming parents rather than gender-conforming parents, and we can start right now. Instead of old-fashioned matchmaking jokes, here are three things to say (or not say) to our children.

Gender-Neutral Language

When your children are old enough to date, enquire about potential mates using they/them pronouns rather than he/him or she/her. “Are you dating anyone?” According to Dr. Sanders, it’s also a simple method to avoid terminology that’s exclusionary, heteronormative, or gender normative. It takes effort, but creating a secure space for your children to talk openly and honestly, is critical, especially as they enter puberty and spend more time away from home, she says.

Focus on Platonic and Friendship Love

Leave your kids out of it when it comes to marriage and love. The cultural tendency to present our children as little couples is “baked into our DNA,” according to Kahn, who adds that even LGBTQ+ parents can fall into this trap. Instead, acknowledge the kids’ friendships without making them romantic. “I hope you two are friends forever” and “you two have a wonderful connection” are phrases that don’t limit, but rather encourage the friendship to expand over time, regardless of the pronouns the kids use.

Don’t Say Anything

This one is quite straightforward — Dr. Sanders and Kahn both advise against making any comments at all. Some parents may find it more beneficial to follow the advice above; —after all, it’s a fun, sociable approach to recognize their child’s friendship without slipping into unhealthy ideas about marriage or romance. Silence, on the other hand, gives your child the freedom to establish their viewpoint and quit the friendship without fear of disappointing you. In any case, any of these possibilities are preferable to the romantic teasing that no child likes to hear.