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Heartburn-Free School Lunches


Updated June 10, 2008

School lunches prepared by a school can often be higher in fat, which can be a heartburn trigger for those children and teens who suffer from chronic heartburn or GERD. The best option, therefore, may be for kids to take home prepared lunches to school.

Fatty foods can cause a lot of problems for those prone to suffering heartburn, so parents can do their kids' bodies a favor by finding low-fat options for school lunches.

The following tips can help parents prepare heartburn-friendly lunches for their children.

  • Use fresh fruit, veggies, and whole grain crackers instead of cookies and chips.

  • If using canned or individual serving packs of juice, select those packaged in natural juices, not syrups.

  • For a treat, give kids baked chips instead of regular chips.

  • For sandwiches, use whole grain breads instead of white, with lean cuts of deli meats (e.g. turkey or chicken) instead of higher fat lunch meats (e.g. bologna).

  • Use reduced fat mayonnaise or light mustard instead of the regular mayonnaise.

  • Give kids low fat yogurt instead of puddings.

  • Pack small boxes of low fat or skim milk, bottled water, or 100% fruit juices in kids' lunches instead of sugar-laden juice drinks or sodas.
Preventing heartburn goes beyond the foods children eat. The following tips can help can further help reduce the chances of heartburn.
  • Make sure your child's clothing is not tight at the waist. Tight clothing can put pressure on the stomach, which in turn pressures the LES and can allow heartburn to happen.

  • Have your child do something quiet immediately after meals. Especially with elementary-aged children, recess is common after lunch at school. Talk to your children about doing something quiet during recess, such as swinging, instead of something vigorous, such as running and jumping. Active play can trigger heartburn.

  • Tell your children not to bend at the waist for 15 to 30 minutes after eating.

Additional resources:

Marsha Kay, M.D., Vasundhara Tolia, M.D.. "COMMON GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS IN PEDIATRIC PATIENTS." The American College of Gastroenterology. 16 Feb 2008.

"Gastroesophageal Reflux in Children and Adolescents." NIH Publication No. 06–5418 August 2006. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). 16 Feb 2008

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