Back To School: Non Toxic Lunch Box

It’s back-to-school time around here. As your kiddo gears up, send them with a non toxic lunch box. We’ve experimented with different products in the last year, and I’ve found my favorites that I’ll share with you here. But first, I’ll tell you why it’s important.

Children are uniquely vulnerable to environmental toxins.

There are thousands of chemicals used in our everyday products that have never been tested for safety. This is particularly harmful for children, who are uniquely vulnerable to environmental toxins for a number of reasons. This is backed by science, stemming from a 1993 study sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency with the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine (Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children, Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1993). Children are exposed to a greater concentration of toxic chemicals, and their developing brain and organs are especially vulnerable. To top it off, they have immature physiologic detoxification systems which make them less able to excrete toxins. You can read more in this article from The Environmental Working Group.

There’s an association between toxic exposures and learning disabilities, autism, asthma, autoimmune diseases, birth defects, cancer, obesity, precocious puberty and reproductive harm among others. You can read more in this article from the Population Reference Bureau titled Children’s Environmental Health.

Environmental toxins are ubiquitous.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a well known example, used in everything from sippy cups to canned foods to register receipt tape. BPA is now acknowledged to be an endocrine disruptor that mimics estrogen, and many children’s products now carry the “BPA free” label. However, we have replaced BPA with another bisphenol that is less well studied and has it’s own adverse effects. More recently, we began hearing about the negative effects of Bisphenol S (BPS).

While we can’t completely eliminate toxic exposures, there’s a lot we can do as parents to limit them.

One way to reduce exposures is by limiting plastics. It’s safer to use tempered glass, stainless steel or bamboo products. Silicon is also a better option. Look for children’s products that are BPA, PVC, phthalate and lead free. Read my article 10 Ways to Reduce Toxins in Your Home for more ideas.

These are some of my favorite non toxic products for the lunch box.

Admittedly, some of these products are an investment up front. But you’ll have less waste, which means fewer trips to Target, and most of these products will last longer than their toxic counterparts.

Insulated Lunchbox: the traditional ones are made from vinyl (PVC). Look for something made from nylon or recycled plastic bottles, like these ones from Wildkin or The Honest Company.

Reusable Stainless Steel Food Containers: I was so happy to find LunchBots containers at my local Whole Foods Market. They come in a lot of shapes and sizes, like these 8 oz round containers and this rectangular bento box with two compartments. This makes it easier for me to pack more variety in my daughter’s lunch. We also love the tiny leak-proof condiment containers that hold dips and sauces. Sometimes we also use these silicon muffin liners from Lekue that fit inside our bento box and help to keep food in it’s place.

There are similar products from U-Konserve and Innobaby. PlanetBox offers an all-in-one kit with a lot of smaller food compartments.

Reusable Stainless Steel or Glass Water Bottles: Our favorites are from Kleen Kanteen. For older kids, Lifefactory has a tempered glass water bottle with a silicone sleeve.

Reusable Sandwich Bags: LunchSkins offers great alternatives to disposable plastic baggies. Newer on the market is a really beautiful product called Bee’s Wrap that I haven’t yet had the chance to use.

Stainless Spoon & Fork Set: We like these sets from Innobaby and LunchBots.

Ice packs: U-Konserve is a great option.

Of course, it’s the food inside your child’s lunch box that is probably the most important. What healthy foods do your kids like packed in their lunch? For some ideas, check out my instagram photos and search for the hashtag #drmarenslunchbox. Also look for my 5 part series on a Holistic Approach to Childhood Nutrition.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for gentle ways to detoxify with foods.  There’s more to come later in the month on my favorite probiotics and prenantal vitamins.

If you’re interested in learning more about my practice, please visit my website.

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I'm Dr. Christine Maren, a board-certified functional medicine physician and mother of two (almost three!). I advocate for real food, healthy living, and clean beauty. I think physicians should be role models when it comes to nutrition and healthy living. This is where I share that passion. Thanks for joining me!

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