It’s back-to-school season and we know just how difficult it can be to get your child to eat healthy foods, let alone make healthy choices at school. To help alleviate any back-to-school (lunch) jitters, we interviewed former registered public-school nurse and ALF Liver Life Advocate, Susan Avallone, on how to pack a healthy lunch your child will actually eat! Check out her top ten tips for packing a healthy, nutritious and filling school lunch, below.


  1. Pack a variety of food groups:
    1. Healthy proteins – Cheese, almonds, yogurt
    1. Whole grains – whole grain cereal, crackers, granola, rice cakes
    1. Fresh fruits – Fruits in season around this time include apples, pears, grapes and cranberries.
    1. Fresh vegetables – Vegetables in season around this time include carrots, bell peppers and broccoli. Bonus – in season produce is usually less expensive!
  2. Add color! Believe it or not, adding a variety of colors helps keep your child from getting bored with eating the same things.
  3. Avoid fatty deli meats and butter which may contain trans fats linked to high-cholesterol and inflammation.
  4. Use sunflower, almond or hazelnut butter as an alternative to peanut butter. You can even pair them with fresh or low-sugar jellies and jams for a school-approved “PBJ.”
  5. Provide plenty of water! Children should drink approximately eight ounces of water per year of age.
  6. Rethink their drink! Skip sugary sodas, fruit juices and sports drinks. 
  7. Utilize bento boxes to allow for a variety of foods in one compact container.
  8. Don’t forget to include an icepack in your child’s lunch box to keep it cold all day – especially if they participate in after school activities.
  9. Be creative! Introduce new foods alongside foods you know your child likes.
  10. Serve food in new and unique ways – fruit smoothies, raisins and nut butter on celery sticks (ants on a log), zucchini bread, etc.

Susan said, “with all of this, we must take into consideration food insecurities. Most schools are required to have a wellness program and may offer free school lunches – check with your child’s school nurse for the specifics of your local program. There are also local, state and federal resources available to help families access fresh produce, dairy and more which can be found on the USDA Nutrition website.”


Teaching our children healthy eating habits at a young age is critical to avoiding diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease*. In fact, fatty liver disease is the most common form of childhood liver disease in the U.S., more than doubling over the past 20 years, partly due to the increase in childhood obesity.

Studies estimate as many as 10% of children in the U.S. have fatty liver disease.

To learn more about liver health and how you can prevent liver disease, visit the health and wellness section of our website.

*Fatty liver disease has been newly renamed to steatotic liver disease.

Last updated on March 26th, 2024 at 12:46 pm

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