Tag Archives: Back to School

The Paleo Lunchbox Primer | The Paleo Diet

Back to school means back to packing Paleo lunchboxes! It’s the chore many parents dread to tackle at the end of the day, but all the effort that goes into providing nutrient-dense, energy-rich fuel for your children is well worth it!1 Support your child’s cognitive, academic, and psychosocial development2 with these tips for effortlessly packing your child’s Paleo lunchbox for the next 180 school days.

CREATE A PLAN

For many busy families it’s challenging enough to plan and shop for meals to be eaten at home, that the ingredients for packed lunches often get left off the grocery list completely. Start with creating one, seasonal Paleo lunch plan for a single week of packed lunches. Keep it simple with one menu you can execute easily to get in a regular rhythm for the coming school year. You can add new menu ideas as inspiration strikes you, or as your little eaters make request.

START WITH FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

For my daughter’s two years of preschool, I packed her completely produce-based lunchboxes. That’s right, my Paleo child didn’t even have meat in her lunchbox. Although Paleo promotes eating protein with every meal, I had a few motivations for this. Lunchboxes provide endless opportunities for exposing your child to different foods,3 especially the ones they don’t love, like vegetables. Children are more likely to try new foods when they are hungry and have no other options available to them, such as when they are at school. Fruits and vegetables also hold up well in lunchboxes, and can be eaten on the way home from school without worrying that they have spoiled, as opposed to leftover sliced chicken breast that may not have been kept cold enough by an ice pack on a hot day.

USE THEMES TO REDUCE YOUR GUESSWORK

Most lunchboxes today are divided into various compartments, leading many to wonder what are they supposed to put in each section in order to fill it up, especially Paleo parents who don’t rely on pretzels, snack crackers, cereal and cookies. Focus on three themes to create a framework for three different days of the week. For example, I make a sandwich box (with apple slices and sunflower seed butter and cucumber slices with guacamole), a breakfast box (a slice of an egg and pork frittata with a fruit salad), and a leftover box (roasted carrot “French fries” and a ground beef and liver meatloaf muffin). Extra vegetables, both raw and cooked, can be added to round out the meal.

DON’T GO NUTS

Many schools are completely nut-free to protect children with severe, life-threatening allergies.4 This shouldn’t throw you for a loop. There are plenty of choices for what to pack instead. Have your child create their own pumpkin seed and coconut flake based trail mix. Most importantly, a packed Paleo lunchbox is an extension of how you feed your child throughout the day. A handful of nuts can be served with breakfast or after dinner to round out your child’s diet.

GET YOUR KIDS ENGAGED

Children, even the littlest ones, have strong opinions and aren’t shy about sharing their food preferences. Get their feedback to use as a guideline on what they want to eat and don’t want to eat in their lunchbox. Maybe it is too embarrassing to have stinky tuna fish or hard-boiled eggs to eat in front of their friends. You might discover that putting one Paleo treat, such as unsweetened dried blueberries, can go a long way in creating good will and provide the incentive to eat the green chard lettuce wrap you’ve also included. You’ll also benefit from their engagement if they would be willing to wash the lunchbox each night to prepare it for the next day, and to help pack it with their favorite Paleo lunch ideas.

My child’s Paleo lunchbox always attracts the attention of her friends, who ask if they can try what she’s eating. I think you’ll find this true for your family.

Happy Paleo lunch packing!

 

REFERENCES

[1] Briefel, Ronette R., Ander Wilson, and Philip M. Gleason. “Consumption of low-nutrient, energy-dense foods and beverages at school, home, and other locations among school lunch participants and nonparticipants.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 109.2 (2009): S79-S90.

[2] Alaimo, Katherine, Christine M. Olson, and Edward A. Frongillo. “Food insufficiency and American school-aged children’s cognitive, academic, and psychosocial development.” Pediatrics 108.1 (2001): 44-53.

[3] Nicklaus, Sophie. “Development of food variety in children.” Appetite 52.1 (2009): 253-255.

[4] Watura, J. C. “Nut allergy in schoolchildren: a survey of schools in the Severn NHS Trust.” Archives of disease in childhood 86.4 (2002): 240-244.

Meal Plan | The Paleo Diet

Dear Dr. Cordain,

I’m a college student about to head into my second year this upcoming fall semester. I’ve decided to try The Paleo Diet and see how it works. I’ve always struggled with my weight and recently decided to do something about it. My school requires those who live in the dorms to have a meal plan (14 meals per week). I don’t want to waste all the meals that I’ve already had to pay for. My question is how can I follow strict Paleo with dorm food. I’m hoping to go to the onsite nutritionist and try to see if that will help (telling them I’m lactose intolerant). And, while they do have a salad bar, I’m just looking for advice so I can stay true to The Paleo Diet.

Thank You,

David

Kyle Cordain’s Response:

David,

I am glad to hear that you are off on the right foot with improving your weight and overall health. It can be difficult at first to adhere to a Paleo lifestyle, but with time it becomes easier and your body and mind will thank you for it.

Most colleges and universities require first year students to live in on-campus dormitories. Many people perceive dormitories as a setback when going to college, but there are definitely many benefits to “dorm life.” Living on-campus is great for meeting new people and to learn the basics of being independent. Plus, it ensures that you have access to all of the study tools and resources that you need to succeed as an undergraduate. That being said, it can be quite difficult to stick to The Paleo Diet especially when your school requires you to purchase a meal plan that probably does not include many Paleo-friendly options. Fortunately, there are plenty of options that you can consider to make sure that your healthy eating plan is not compromised by your school’s conventional eating plans.

First, I would contact your school’s dining hall service and see if you can obtain nutrition facts, including labels, food sources, and the like for every item offered in the varied meal plan options. Go through the list of all food options and highlight those that adhere to Paleo. You mentioned that there is a salad bar available, so if there is a fairly decent amount of fresh vegetables and fruit, half the battle is won.

Typically, the biggest challenge with eating “dorm-food” is sourcing quality meat, eggs, and other protein sources. More often than not, the dining Halls provide meat that is far from what we would label Paleo. It is quite the challenge to find a meal plan that offers grass-fed meat, free of preservatives, salt, sugars, nitrites, and nitrates. Often dining halls will source the cheapest factory raised meat that is available, and cook up a dish that is smothered with gluten, sugar, and or salt-infested sauces that ultimately make the meat non-Paleo. It’s also worth mentioning that factory raised meat, is usually raised on corn or soy, and is loaded with hormones or antibiotics. The omega-3 and omega-6 balance ratio becomes disrupted when animals are raised on diets rich in grains and soy where the byproduct is inflammatory and not very good for you.

If I were you, I would speak to an administrator in your university’s dining services and explain that you have one or more food intolerance and that you are striving to follow a specific diet that the dorm meal plan simply does not permit. If they cannot make an exception, meet them in the middle and try to shorten your meal plan to only seven meals per week or fewer. Make sure to stock up on lots of fresh fruit, veggies, and nuts which you can store in a mini fridge in your dorm room. Depending on fire codes provided by housing and dining services, you may also consider bringing a hotplate to cook eggs, chicken, steak, and stir-fry dishes.

Many universities are beginning to diet is a heightened concern for many people and now offer public kitchens where students can cook meals on their own time. If you do not have access to a kitchen on-campus, stick with upperclassmen and other friends that live off-campus who will let you use their kitchens. After all, cooking and food bring people together.

I wish you the best of luck with school and your new Paleo lifestyle!

Kyle Cordain
The Paleo Diet Team

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