School lunch programs vary from nutritious and health-conscious, to fast-food oriented and comparable to a microwave dinner. If your child’s school does not provide healthy lunch options that include fruits, vegetables, and proteins, you may need to pack your child’s lunch to help ease ADHD symptoms throughout the day. This is especially true if your child has food sensitivities. If your child is on medication and doesn’t have much of an appetite during the day, try these tools to create a more appealing lunch while balancing nutrition:
- Let them choose food items but keep guidelines. Their lunch should include a fruit and/or vegetable, whole grain, protein and dairy item. Adjust these items according to food allergies and sensitivities.
- Choose foods that are portable and not time consuming to eat. Try putting foods in smaller containers or zip lock bags.
- Let them help pack up their lunch and decide how they want foods stored.
- Get creative with cutting out fun shapes for their fruit, cheese, or sandwiches.
- Always have a “go to” item that you know you child loves but change up one or two items to see what else they might eat.
Be certain to involve the teacher and ask them to occasionally monitor your child during lunch time. They can help you determine why your child may not be eating - whether it be lack of appetite or distractions in the lunch room. The teacher can also let you know if your child is throwing away certain food items.
If your child struggles to eat at the regular lunch hour, talk with his teachers about letting your child snack when they are hungry. Explain how their medication may be affecting their appetite and when they can eat. If there’s no winning at lunch time, you can try going double time at breakfast and making certain snacks available when your child gets home from school.