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Healthy Lunches for Kids Inspired by Ethnic Traditions

Loss of Traditional Nutrition Practices Leads to Obesity among Minorities

  • Almost 2/3 of Utah adults are overweight.  However, minority Utahns, such as Pacific Islanders and Hispanics, are even more likely to be overweight.
  • American minorities gain weight when they abandon the healthier traditions of their ancestors and start eating unhealthy American convenience foods. Healthy eating patterns begin in childhood.
  • The traditional diets of the Pacific Islands and Latin America can inspire healthy alternatives for kids’ lunches.

Unhealthy American Sack Lunch Example


Contents

About This Lunch

  • Bologna and american cheese sandwich on white bread with regular mayonnaise
  • Potato chips
  • Twinkie
  • Fruit punch
  • This lunch is high in calories and fat and low in nutrients.
  • If you look at the label, you see that the number one ingredient in the fruit punch is not fruit, but sugar.
  • Not only is this lunch unhealthy, it is bland and boring.

 

Pacific Island-inspired Sack Lunch Example


Contents

About This Lunch

  • Tuna sandwich on wheat with cucumber and canola mayonnaise
  • Mango
  • Cold steamed or baked sweet potato
  • Coconut juice
  • Fish, fruit and root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, are healthy staples of the traditional Pacific Island diet.
  • Fish is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and the tuna sandwich has more protein than the bologna sandwich.
  • Mangoes and sweet potatoes are great sources of fiber and vitamins.
  • Make sure to get coconut “water” or “juice”, not coconut “milk”, which is higher in fat and calories.

 

Latin America-inspired Sack Lunch Example


Contents

About This Lunch

  • Black bean, cilantro, tomato and corn salad
  • Tortilla
  • Banana
  • Low-fat milk
  • Beans, tomatoes, and corn are healthy staples of the traditional Latin American diet.
  • Beans are one of the healthiest foods available; they are packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, and omega 3 fatty acids.
  • The corn in the salad is a whole grain.

 

Buying lunch at school is another healthy and affordable option

  • Many favorite ethnic dishes cannot be served cold, but Utah school districts frequently offer hot, healthy ethnic foods as part of the school lunch program.
  • School lunches are required to meet the recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
  • Free or reduced price school lunches are available for low-income families. You can apply at any time during the school year.

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