with thanks to Kirsty Bear
Wow! Where did 2021 go! Can’t believe we are almost ready to start school again. Here are some tips for packing healthy lunch boxes in 2022.
30 – 40 % of children’s overall food for a school day comes from their lunchbox. Therefore, when we’re packing lunchboxes for our kids, it should nourish & support their bodies & brains for a 6 – 7-hour day of learning.
To make a packed lunch that’s healthy and balanced, we need to have three main components. Firstly, we want to have complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates that last longer, so our body takes longer to use them, and we get longer lasting energy from them. Examples are whole grain breads, oats, quinoa, brown rice, fruits, and vegetables. Things that have a lot of fibre in it actually requires the body to work a little bit harder to process, so they get longer lasting energy.
Secondly, a good quality protein source. This could be either a plant-based or animal-based protein. But protein is so important for so many body processes such as growth and development of hair, skin, nails, & muscles. This is really important for our child’s growth and development. On top of that, the protein helps keep our kids’ tummies fuller for longer.
The third part is to have some good quality fats. Fats are important for satiety & for brain function – so important for learning. Examples include avocadoes, eggs, fatty fish, chia and flax seeds, and nuts. I know most schools are nut free but if your child can have nuts, they’re a great fat and a protein source for your child to have before or after school.
Here are 5 steps to pack a healthy lunchbox:
- Pack a piece of fruit. If you pack an orange or apple, cut it up for them as they only get 10 – 15 minutes to eat.
- Add one – two serves’ vegetables. Cut into sticks and add a dip to help kids eat the veggies.
- Add a main lunch. Include a protein and fat e.g. homemade hamburger with salad, wraps with chicken & salad, quinoa, brown rice, eggs, chickpeas etc.
- A healthy snack which is optional. Homemade popcorn, biscuits, protein balls.
- The only drink they need at school is water.
I must add that today’s food culture is all about processed convenience food, but I wouldn’t call it food.
Most Australian Children have 2 – 4 packet foods (discretionary foods) in their lunchbox every day, in fact the latest government health report from 2018 indicates that primary aged children are eating between 4.8 and 6.2 serves of discretionary foods a day. Let’s just be clear on this, under the Australian Dietary Guidelines, discretionary foods are not part of the 5 food groups for essential health and they are noted as a food to be eaten occasionally and only in small amounts.
Most processed foods are made in a chemistry lab & a factory & our bodies don’t know how to use them. Many are also loaded with additives and preservatives that are also made in a chemistry lab.
Let’s focus on eating more real food and minimising processed food and packing healthier lunchboxes for our children so we all can start taking better care of our One Body for Life in 2022!