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Norwalk Daily Voice serves Norwalk & Rowayton

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In With the Wheat and Out With the White

You bought a loaf of white bread to use for your kids' sandwiches. Really? No, I didn't think so. Because eating a healthy school lunch is a great way for your kids to get the nutrients they need to power through their action-packed school day. Lunch food filled with an excess of fat, sugar, sodium and calories (prepackaged lunches with cutesy names? You know who you are) might have the opposite effect on children and leave them lethargic and less than learning-ready.

And more seriously, unhealthy foods contribute to long-term health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation , a nonprofit organization founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to Combat Childhood Obesity , offers these tips to pack healthy school lunches.

Superior sandwiches start with whole wheat bread: Packed with fiber, whole-wheat bread is also more filling than the empty calories of its white-floured equivalent.

Take salad off the side and increase the portion of green in your child's lunch: Include a lean protein of hard-boiled eggs, beans or grilled chicken to round out the meal.

Pack the good stuff: Sneak in vegetables between those slices of bread: lettuce, cucumbers or shredded cabbage sit well with slices of lean turkey or ham.

Strapped for time? Put together healthy items that need no preparation: a piece of fruit, yogurt, individual packs of baby carrots and sliced turkey in a tortilla make a balanced lunch.

Keep your cool: Water and low-fat milk are best drinks for children. They can be frozen to keep foods in your child's lunchbox cool and will defrost for drinking in time for lunch.

For more tips and information on making your family -- and your community -- healthier, visit www.HealthierGeneration.org .

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