Best Packed Lunches for a Child with ADHD

Best Packed Lunches for a Child with ADHD
Elementary aged children need available energy intake evenly spaced throughout the day.. Karla Rippchen

Food suggestions to pack for a snack or school lunch

Protein packed food suggestions for a child's snack or school lunch include: 1-inch cubes of cheese, cheese sticks, shredded cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, Greek or whipped or regular yogurt cups or tubes (varieties with no fructose corn syrup or artificial dyes/colors), water packed tuna fish, slices of ham or turkey or Canadian bacon or bacon (ask grocery store butcher which packaged and in store sliced varieties do not contain nitrates, nitrites), nuts, peanut butter, and almond butter.

Please make sure your child is allowed to bring nuts to school. Children with severe nut allergies may be exposed to nuts thru cross contamination.

You can also include foods such as golden and brown raisins, cooked and cooled edamame in the shell that a child can pop out edamame themselves. Remember not to eat edamame shell. Other options include crispy roasted chickpeas, tofu or tempeh, hummus dip, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs to form an egg breakfast sandwich, dried sea weed sheets, pumpkin seeds, quinoa pasta and lentils cooked and cooled ( 1 Tb rolled up inside  a wrap with their favorite cheese, meat, lettuce, vegetable, etc. Wrap it in foil to stay together.) Last but not least is milk or soy milk that can be purchased right in the school cafeteria.

Please note that dairy and meats will need to be placed in containers that contain ice packs in order to stay cold. There is a new style lunch bag with the ice container sewed inside the bag where you place the entire lunch bag in the freezer every night.

You can also try to freeze yogurt tubes/containers and place them in bags to use as both an icepack and food.

Food for Fun

Add some fun in the food selection process and allow your child to help you pick out four types of cheese blocks at the grocery store. At home, gently blindfold your child with a cloth tied around their eyes.

Place a sample of the cheeses on a plate. Allow your child to take a sip of water in between each sample. Repeat another day with a variety of yogurt flavors, nuts or bread.

Growing children need fat to break down fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Choosing low saturated and low or no trans fat options for snacks and lunch bags will round out their balanced diet. Here are some examples of low saturated and low or no trans fat foods to include: homemade breads (contain little to none trans fat), store bought labeled “100% whole wheat” or the first ingredient listed is whole wheat (ingredients on labels are listed in order by weight) bread, cracker, buns, tortilla, English muffin, bagel, rice, pretzels, dry cereal, pasta and  low-fat cheeses and yogurts.

High fiber foods include: raspberries, fruits with skins (e.g. apples, pears), bananas, oranges, strawberries, figs, raisins, whole wheat pasta, bread, crackers, black, edamame, kidney beans cooked and cold inside a wrap, air-popped popcorn, almonds, pistachios, pecans, raw carrots, snap peas with the shell eaten whole/

In conclusion, growing elementary aged children need available energy intake evenly spaced throughout the day. Jodie Shield, Masters in Education and Registered Dietitian, suggests that an elementary-aged child eats every three hours. Eating breakfast before school, small AM snack in school, lunch in school, snack immediately after school, evening meal before 7PM and possibly small evening snack before bedtime is an example of how to space out an elementary child’s daily caloric intake routine.

Karla Rippchen, RDN, LDN, Masters Business Management, is a dietitian consultant who lives with her family near Chicago, Illinois. Karla loves to travel and has lived in Asia and the west coast, southern and midwest areas of the USA.


Healthy Eating, Healthy Weight for Kids and Teens. (Dec 10, 2011),  by Jodie Shields, Med, RD and Mary Mullen MS, RD 

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