Get Inspired During Healthy Lunch Box Week
February 7 – 13th is Healthy Lunchbox Week in Australia. This initiative by Nutrition Australia aims to help parents become more mindful of what kids are eating during school hours.
Students consume approximately 30% of their calorie intake during the school day meaning the foods they eat at recess and lunch play an important role in their health and well-being. The start of the new year is an ideal time to set up healthy habits which will help kids focus and feel great.
These tips will make it easier to fill your child’s lunchbox with nutritious and tasty foods every day.
Find Healthy Alternatives
It’s tempting to give kids their favourites to ensure they don’t go hungry at school, particularly if your child is a fussy eater. Unfortunately, many of the foods children love are loaded with salt, fat and sugar. The good news is it’s easy to swap unhealthy options for better choices. Some suggestions from Nutrition Australia include replacing potato chips with crunchy vegetables and dips and swapping butter on sandwiches and rolls for avocado and hummus. Shop bought cakes and biscuits can be replaced with homemade slices to reduce sugar content.
Aim for a Balanced Diet
The secret to good health is balance, and this can only be achieved with variety. Each day, your child’s lunchbox should have one main item such as a sandwich, wrap, sushi roll or slice of frittata, as well as a couple of healthy snacks. Options for snacks include fresh fruit, yoghurt, wholemeal crackers and boiled eggs. To ensure balance and help you plan healthy lunches, make sure the five food groups are represented. These are vegetables, fruits, grains, lean meat (including poultry and fish) and dairy.
Make Your Own Snack Packs
Snack packs are popular in the playground because they’re marketed directly to kids. It’s not easy to compete with the brightly coloured packaging and highly processed content, but you can entice kids to eat better by making your own packs. Not only is this a healthier alternative it will also save you money and help the environment by cutting back on plastic use. Fill a small lunchbox or reusable tub with fruit salad, plain yoghurt, berries, or cheese and nuts. You can make your own healthy trail mix or use chickpeas, popcorn, raisons, and celery sticks with peanut butter.
Encourage Kids to Drink Water
Students who drink cordial and soft drink at school often experience a sugar crash in the afternoon which can affect concentration. These drinks are full of empty calories, and they are very bad for children’s teeth. You can encourage your child to drink water during the school day by making sure they have a good quality water bottle which keeps the contents cool. On hot summer days, it’s a great idea to freeze a bottle so that it stays icy cold for longer. Once children become accustomed to drinking water, they’ll find sugary drinks far less appealing.
For more ideas on how to create healthier eating habits for kids, visit the Nutrition Australia website.