With schools around the country reopening their doors for another year of learning and development for our children, it is just as important that we as parents are able to feed our young ones healthy, nutritional lunches.
However, as busy parents we can often fall into the trap of choosing convenience over quality, meaning we don’t always provide our children with the most nutritionally rife lunches which could prove vital to their learning. That’s why I have formed this easy, time-effective guide to giving your children healthier packed lunches.
Every student has the potential to do well in school. Failing to provide good nutrition puts them at risk for missing out on meeting that potential. However, taking action today to provide healthier choices in schools can help to set students up for a successful future full of possibilities. Several studies show that nutritional status can directly affect mental capacity among school-aged children:
• Amino acid and carbohydrate supplementation can improve perception, intuition and reasoning
• A healthy balanced diet helps students to show up to school prepared to learn
• Studies show that malnutrition leads to behaviour problems, and that sugar has a negative impact on child behaviour. However, these effects can be counteracted when children consume a balanced diet that includes protein, fat, complex carbohydrates, and fibre
Less of the added sugar!
As much as our children might nag for the inclusion of sugary snacks in their daily lunches, added sugar provides no nutritional benefits and is actually said to contribute towards behaviour issues. The over-indulgence in sugary snacks is bound to make our children hyperactive– maybe this isn’t always the best for a classroom. The major culprits of added sugars are fizzy pop, cookies, sweetened yoghurts chocolate and sweets. Kids who eat foods high in added sugars tend to eat fewer healthy foods that are good for the brain and heart.
Whole fruits and fibre
Try to feed your kids whole fruit instead of juices and sweets. The fruit is rich in fibre and the high water content helps to keep the calories low. Juices are particularly dangerous as they are silent culprits. By this I mean, the disguise themselves as fruit but are in fact pumped full of refined sugars and additives to make them taste nicer. Granted the fruit juices taste nice, but it is so easy to guzzle down too many calories from juice without even realising. Instead, opt for water, or low-calorie flavoured water. This and some ‘brain fruit’ as I like to call them (apples, bananas, grapes) are much better options.
Try and introduce a healthy snack at home, maybe as a reward for good behaviour. This then reignites with the child as a treat and will soon take over the sweets and chocolate as their favourite part of the packed lunch. This is all down to your child’s preference, but I found the sweeter fruits such as mango and pineapple are great for treats, maybe even some sugar free jelly for the more conventional youngsters treat.
Calories are calories. You can over-eat anything no matter how healthy it is, it will carry calories. So just because it may be healthy, doesn’t mean you should fill the lunchbox to the brim with it.
Always add veg
Cherry tomatoes, sticks of carrot, cucumber, celery and peppers all count towards their 5 A DAY. Adding a small pot of reduced-fat hummus or other dips may help with getting kids to eat vegetables.
Keep the processed foods to a minimum
Give up eating processed food; replace your daily food with a well-balanced diet. Eating lots of fibre can be very helpful and it helps with cleansing your gut and with hormonal imbalances. Adding fruit to your daily diet is quite important for a healthy complexion as well – but these should be whole fruits not juices. Consuming less sugar is also very beneficial and so are balanced doses of Vitamin C.
As a qualified nutritionist and founder and CEO of Nosh Detox, Ms Sidhu-Robb has expertise across a range of health and nutritional topics including; eating habits amongst children through to issues such as rising child-obesity rates. To find out more visit noshdetox.com