Dietitian gives advice on healthy school lunches

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A local dietitian spilled on the easiest way to pack healthy school lunches Thursday.

A nutritional breakfast and lunch can make a big difference in your child's academic and athletic performance.

Laurie McCarty provided explanations as to why protein rich foods and balanced meals are best for children.

McCarty walked through each meal giving tips along the way.

For breakfast she suggests simple substitutions that can make a big difference. An example that she presented is to use peanut butter as a waffle topping rather than syrup. This way your child still gets their waffle and you provide them with carbohydrates which will give them energy. Also, the topping of peanut butter provides protein to keep your child going throughout the school day.

When packing a lunch for your child, McCarty suggests going through a checklist of all the healthy food groups. These include: grains, dairy, protein, vegetables, and fruits. She says The combination of these five food groups will give your child the nutrition to stay focused and alert in the classroom.

For snacks, students can eat anything they did not eat during lunch. She also suggests snacks that still fall into those five groups mentioned above. Snack suggestions included cheese sticks, carrots sticks, and peanut butter crackers.

Once the kids are home for dinner, McCarty suggests using a crock pot to create healthy meals when the evening is hectic. She also wants to remind parents that preparation is key to a healthy living lifestyle.