The best ideas for healthy lunchboxesMarch 10, 2020 8:21 am
When it comes to school lunches, healthy eating can feel like a battlefield! Keeping up with the latest food trends (chia seeds anyone?) and dealing with fussy eaters can tire you out before you’ve even started. Here, we’ve compiled some easy ways to sneak extra goodness into tomorrow’s lunchbox.
- Why does healthy food for kids matter so much?
Eating the right things helps keep kids feeling full, and away from unhealthy fast food and processed snacks like crisps and chocolate. Not only are these foods bad for teeth – usually creating a store of sugar in the mouth that encourages bacteria growth and tooth decay – but they’re bad for general health too. These kinds of foods won’t keep kids full for long and usually cause a sugar ’spike’ – meaning they’ll be falling asleep in the classroom or feeling hungry later on. This can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
- What to do next
There are some general rules for lunchbox ideas – make sure each contains protein, vegetables, fruit, and some sort of fat (of the healthy, non-saturated sort). These will act as building blocks to create a healthy, filling lunchbox that will help kids get the most out of their day.
- Getting greens
Sliced raw veggies are a great way to up kids’ vitamin intake and keep teeth clean. Peppers, cucumber, and carrots are all easy to prepare and full of nutrients. A salad is a good alternative. Generally, having as many colours as possible is the way to go!
This part of the lunchbox doesn’t have to involve a lot of prep – including a piece of fruit like a banana or apple is a great place to start. Make sure there’s not more than one piece though, as a fruit is heavy on sugars that can be bad for teeth. Also, avoid dried fruit, as this is especially packed with sugar and tends to adhere to teeth – not good for avoiding tooth decay!
Protein is essential to help developmental growth. If your child eats meat, then white meat like chicken or fish is best. If you’re vegetarian, eggs are an excellent source of protein. Hard-boiled eggs can have quite a strong smell, so whipping up egg ‘muffins’ is a fun alternative. These can be oven-baked in 20 minutes, and you can even sneak in some extra greens like spinach or peas – result!
- ‘Good’ fats
Nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats – just make sure they are raw, not baked or roasted, as this increases the calorie count, and they often contain ingredients your kids don’t need like salt or sugar.
- Stay away from…
Supermarket shelves are packed with ‘kid-friendly’items that can feel like a quick fix. However, these lunchbox ideas like cereal bars, sugary drinks and fruit-based goods are in fact highly processed foods that really won’t help your kids in the long term. For the same reason, it’s best to avoid white bread and pasta – opt for the wholemeal or brown variety instead. Including some element of carbohydrate in lunchboxes is a good idea, but it needs to be a ‘slow-release’ type that keeps blood sugar on an even keel.
- Extra tips
For best lunchbox success, it’s a good idea to let kids help you when making them. At first, this may feel slightly chaotic – but it will help keep your kids interested and enthusiastic about the food they eat. Developing and maintaining a weekly rotating schedule can make prep easier, and also gives kids a sense of continuity. Finally, be sure your kids visit a pediatric dentist at a clinic such as Drs. Nicolas & Asp every six months, to keep tip-top mouth health.
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