(Family Features) - Day camp. School. Field trips. Vacation. Your child's lunchbox really gets a workout! Because it's in constant use, that same lunchbox can be a uniquely effective tool in maintaining your child's healthy weight.
We all know that childhood obesity - and its ramifications - continues to be a concern. One-third of obese preschoolers and half of obese school-aged children will remain obese as adults, according to Dr. Rallie McAllister, a family practice physician specializing in wellness and weight loss.
As a parent, what can you do to keep your child at a healthy weight? A few of the answers might surprise you. In her recently released National 2006 Healthy Lunchbox Survey on childhood obesity, McAllister found that kids are 25 percent less likely to be overweight if parents participate in lunch preparation or planning. In researching and writing "Healthy Lunchbox: The Working Mom's Guide to Keeping You and Your Kids Trim" (LifeLine Press, September 2003), she also found that simple, yet permanent changes in eating habits can produce lasting results.
"Changes don't have to be big, just smart," McAllister says. "Eliminating mayonnaise in sandwiches is a simple way to reduce fat and calories. Did you know that if you or your kids eat deli sandwiches three times a week and you simply swap out mayonnaise for French's Mustard, you and your kids can expect to lose a minimum of 4 pounds over the course of one year?"
Know Your Lunchbox ABCs
A is for A+ Protein. For sandwiches or bread-less rollups, choose lean cuts of turkey, ham, or beef. Add thin slices of cheese for extra calcium.
B is for Bread. Choose a whole wheat bread for more fiber and natural grain goodness.
C is for Condiment. A condiment such as French's Honey Mustard is not only great on sandwiches, but can also be a finger-lickin' dip for raw veggies or pretzels. The mother of three boys, McAllister knows that her children will eat vegetables if she gives them cut-up broccoli, grape tomatoes, or baby carrots along with dip.
So, now that you know your ABCs, take charge of choosing good things to pack in your child's lunch. Also to get your kids involved and having fun, here's a creative lunchbox and snack idea from McAllister. (Shhhh! Just don't tell your kids that these sandwiches are healthy, too!)
For more great tips and recipes from Dr. Rallie McAllister, please visit www.frenchsfoods.com.