Healthy eating is all about getting a good balance of foods. There has been a lot of media coverage about sweets, biscuits, cakes, crisps and in particular sweetened drinks increasing the rate of childhood obesity. This is true of course, but there is still room for these types of foods in very small amounts in the diet as long as the rest of the diet is healthy and balanced. Parents need to focus more on a healthy lifestyle instead of a ‘diet’ as such. Including all foods from the various food groups is essential to ensure all nutrients are being consumed. A healthy school lunchbox is a great start to ensuring your children are healthy.
Start the healthy lunch box with a starchy carbohydrate food to provide your child with their main source of energy and fill them up. Good ideas are:
- Whole wheat bread/ rolls/ bagels or baguettes
- Whole wheat pita bread or wrap
- Whole wheat crackers or crisp breads
Add some protein, such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, peanut butter, hummus or cheese. Protein is important for growth and repair. Then add the fruit and vegetables for antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Here are a few filling ideas to try, or you could make up your own combinations:
- Cheddar cheese with apple slices
- Cooked chicken or turkey, mustard, tomatoes, and lettuce
- Cottage cheese and dried apricots
- Tuna, cucumber, green pepper, sweetcorn and tomato
- Mozzarella with grilled peppers
- Egg mayonnaise and cucumber
- Cottage cheese, biltong and pepperdew
- Beef, mustard and gherkin
Then add some fruit to help fill up and reach the recommended 5/ day.
A healthy lunchbox should regularly contain low fat milk or dairy products to provide calcium for growth, healthy bones and teeth. Most young children (over 2 years old) should be having low fat milk and dairy products and over 5’s can have fat free milk and dairy products. These will include yogurts or drinking yogurt, milk and fat free cottage cheese.
And finally to drink…
Water is always the best choice because it quenches their thirst but doesn’t spoil their appetite or harm their teeth. Other options will be diet/ sugar free cordials and diluted fruit juice.