According to the American Heart Association, the average child between the age of 2 and 19 eats more than 3,100mg of sodium per day – 800 more mg than the recommended amount! A high-sodium diet puts kids at risk of high blood pressure and obesity, leading to an increased risk of developing kidney disease.
Some of the biggest sodium sources in their diets are pizza, cured meats, sandwiches, packaged snacks, and processed chicken products like nuggets, patties, and tenders. Sending your child to school with a healthy packed lunch is one great way to give them access to tasty, kidney-friendly alternatives. Consider adding these foods to their bags:
Cured meats like salami, bologna, and ham are packed with sodium. A classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich has significantly less sodium, especially if you buy a natural, minimally-processed peanut butter. Other nut butters like almond or cashew make a tasty sandwich when paired with sliced banana and a drizzle of honey.
Fruits and veggies
Help your student get the nutrition they need by adding fruits and veggies to their lunch bag. An apple, clementines, carrot and celery sticks, and grapes are all healthy additions. Mini packs of raisins or dried fruits are also good in small amounts.
Snacks and treats
On the savory side, popcorn, homemade trail mix, string cheese, and small quantities of vegetable chips are kidney-friendly lunch additions. On the sweet side, try including yogurt (but watch out for sugar), a whole grain cereal bar, or homemade baked good.
Water is one of the best choices to include in your child’s lunch, but if they’re looking to change things up a bit, try a small serving (about 4 ounces) of 100% fruit juice. Keeping the portion size small helps ensure they don’t consume too much added sugar.
From all of us at the Nephrology Associates of Greater Cincinnati, we wish our neighbors across the tristate a safe and healthy school year!