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Finding a healthy balance for school lunches

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Packing lunches for your kids can often be tricky. You want them to be healthy, but you also want them to eat what you pack. Experts say most kids actually like healthy food. It just needs to be prepared the right way. Robin Hosley usually packs her kids healthy lunches. And they don't seem to mind. But that's not the case with most kindergarteners, who tend to like fattier foods. Kindergarden teacher Susan Harriss said, "Hot dog day is a biggie. Most children like that. Also when we have pizza, chicken nuggets." Lunch is an important meal for children. And it's equally important for parents make sure their kids eat it. Striking that balance can be difficult. Clinical nutritionist Heidi Kaufman said, "If the entire lunch is foods they would never eat, and you're just trying to be healthy, it's not going to work." Kaufman is a nutritionist for New Hanover Regional Medical Center. She says most children will eat healthy foods, it just need to be prepared to their liking. She says sandwiches, wraps and fruits -- all healthy -- are usually a hit among youngsters. Kaufman said, "It doesn't have to be the hoho. It's just an assumption we have that if we put those in there, the kids just won't eat and that's just not true." Kaufman says it's fine to feed your child junk food -- but only once in a while, preferably as a reward. Kaufman says deciding what's healthy for your kids can be summed up by a simple rule of thumb. If parents focus on foods that are the least processed, it comes from the produce aisle, or the outer ring of the grocery store, the child will be healthy. If the foods are mainly the foods that have come from some kind of box the child is likely going to suffer from that," Kaufman said. Kaufman says parents should talk to their kids about what they like, and let them help pick out food at the grocery store.

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