School Lunch 101: Tell Them to 'Eat This, Not That'

By Jessica Reinhart

Although your children may eat well-balanced meals while under your watchful eye, what do you think happens when they’re left to choose their chow for themselves at the school cafeteria? Let’s face it; kids rarely consider nutritional content when selecting their own food. But with childhood obesity rates reaching record highs, and cases of diabetes among children on the rise, nutrition is one lesson that parents just can’t afford to ignore any longer.

Arm your child with the information they need to make healthier food choices both in and out of the house, with the help of "Eat This Not That! For Kids!" Written by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding, this handy reference guide helps you (and your kids) make sense of what can often be confusing menus of unhealthy food choices. The duo has done much of the homework for you, calculating the caloric, fat and sodium contents of many popular foods.

Want to help your child better navigate the school lunch line? Send your child off to school with the information they need to put healthy food on their plate. Here are a few of the "Eat This Not That! For Kids!" recommendations for a healthier trip to the school cafeteria (you may just be surprised to learn that sometimes the healthier option is not necessarily the obvious choice!):

Eat This Roast Beef & Gravy (240 calories; 11g fat (4 g saturated); 625 mg sodium)
Not That! Turkey Wrap (375 calories; 14 g fat (5 g saturated); 575 mg sodium)

Eat This Mashed Potatoes (170 calories; 8 g fat (3 g saturated); 300 mg sodium)
Not That! Carrots with Ranch Dressing (230 calories; 16 g fat (5 g saturated); 400 mg sodium)

Eat This Green Peas (75 calories; 0 g fat; 120 mg sodium)
Not That! Corn Niblets (100 calories; 0 g fat; 135 mg sodium)

Eat This Hamburger (350 calories; 15 g fat (5 g saturated); 650 mg sodium)
Not That! Crispy Chicken Sandwich (400 calories; 19 g fat (7 g saturated); 735 mg sodium)

Eat This Tater Tots (150 calories; 7 g fat (1 g saturated); 200 mg sodium)
Not That! French Fries (310 calories, 18 g fat (7 g saturated); 400 mg sodium)