Promoting Healthy Growth

5 Lunch Packing Tips to Support Bone Growth for Children

This blog post and recipe comes from Noelle, a Registered Dietitian and author of Motherhood and Meals.

It is well known that we all have a genetic potential to reach a certain height. In fact, 60 to 80 percent of height is determined by genetics.

Did you know that nutrition can also largely impact if that potential is reached? Bone growth occurs in both length and density for the first three decades of life and the majority—if not all—of the increase in length occurs in the first two thirds of that time.

Offering foods rich in protein, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, magnesium, and phosphorus can help children and adolescents achieve maximum bone growth during this crucial time. To get enough of these important vitamins in your child’s diet, focus on providing him or her with a nutrient-dense lunch.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few other lunch packing tips and a delicious black bean recipe your whole family will love!

#1: Offer foods from all four food groups to help meet both energy and growth needs, as well as immunity boosting nutrients. As a refresher, the four food groups are: fruits, veggies, grains, and protein.

#2: Offer fruits and vegetables in an “easy-to-eat” way to increase interest. If your child tends to eat small portions, include a dip for added nutrient and caloric density. For example, baby carrots with hummus, grape tomatoes with guacamole, apples with Sunbutter, and berries with Greek yogurt. Stir Healthy Height Shake Mix into their yogurt or nut butter—it will taste delicious (choose from vanilla or chocolate) and provide an added boost of nutrients.

#3: Involve your child when making their lunches. Ask him or her to choose between carrots or peppers, or pita with hummus or cheese on a wrap. Ask for help with putting the grapes or raisins into the lunchbox. The more involved your child is, the more invested he or she feels, and the more likely it is that you’ll find an empty lunch box at the end of the day.

#4: Choose a bento-style lunch box that allows your child to see the whole meal at once rather than several small containers. Nourishment breaks tend to be quite rushed at the elementary school level. Reducing the time that your child needs to open containers to access food increases the time they can spend actually eating and therefore may support more adequate nourishment. In addition, seeing all foods at once may lead to greater balance and variety of intake at one sitting.

#5: Remember that the goal is to offer nourishment to children; not a gourmet meal. So it is totally okay to offer a “snack lunch” of whole grain crackers or homemade muffins, shredded cheese, baby carrots, hummus, sunflowers seeds, grapes and yogurt or a homemade smoothie. And sometimes these “easier” lunches are the ones that are loved most! 

If these “snack lunches” sound like something your little ones would enjoy, here is a delicious recipe for Black Bean Bites that would be perfect to include. They are fun to eat and packed with nutrients that support a healthy, growing body and brain!

Bone-Boosting Black Bean Bites

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup steel cut oats

1 cup baby carrots (or chunks of regular peeled carrots)

398 mL can of No Added Salt black beans, drained and rinsed

4 scoops vanilla Healthy Height Shake Mix

1/2cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

10 figs (or pitted dates)

1 cup fortified coconut milk or almond milk

1 banana

1-2 tbsp. honey or maple syrup (optional)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

Instructions

  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor on low for 3-5 minutes and then high until full blended together.
  2. Place batter in small “coin size” drops on a baking stone or cookie sheet.
  3. Bake at 400 for about 10 minutes.

P.S. Need more lunch ideas? We have some blog posts for you:

Nutrition to Help Kids Grow - and Sleep!

Every year our team of Pediatricians at Schneider Children's Medical Center have 20,000 visits from children with issues relating to growth. Our doctors wanted to find a non-invasive way to help children grow and the nutrition in our shake mix is the result of their efforts. The nutrition in our shake mix was shown in a clinical study to promote growth in 6 months, as well as improve sleep patterns in kids who take at least 1 serving per day.

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