Back to School and the Challenge of Packing a Healthy Packed Lunch

Daunted by the task of packing a school lunch each day that gives your child/children the right amount of health benefits that they require? For young children healthy food doesn’t just keep them healthy, it also plays a role in how well they concentrate at school and in their general mood. So adding in specific foods to their diets may lead to improved learning.

Tips To Help You

  • When you go shopping involve your child in choosing healthy options for their lunch box explaining the benefits to them (depending on age).
  • Always use a clean lunchbox and when possible your child’s favourite colour or character on it.
  • Vary what food you put in each day as it can become boring otherwise.
  • Put in a small bottle of water
  • Use different breads like whole grain, flat bread, rolls, wraps or pita bread.
  • It’s really important to make the portion sizes age appropriate.
  • Small children like finger food. Having a few small containers in their sandwich box with different food colours can be fun for children to open, for example: strawberries, baby carrots, blueberries, raspberries, cherry tomatoes, cut up pieces of cucumber or red/orange peppers, cut up grapes or kiwi, satsuma or dried fruit.

Having good sources of protein and healthy fats will keep blood sugar levels stable; avoiding dips in their energy levels and concentration.  Include foods such as a boiled egg cut into quarters, mini quiche, a piece of chicken, turkey, ham or other cuts of meats, cheese cubes, cheese triangles or babybel, peanut butter, nuts and seeds, avocado, tuna or fish paste, houmous or a small Greek or plain yogurt pot.

Sometimes try adding in healthy snacks like homemade biscuits, fairy cake, fruit puree, smoothie or apple sauce or even oven cooked vegetable crisps.

Avoid processed or convenience food as they will affect your child’s blood sugar levels, i.e.  crisps, fizzy and sugar drinks, cakes, biscuits and chocolate bars.

Always read food labels for sugar content in children’s food.

Sugar has many different names and children only require it in small amounts as it offers very little nourishment.  Common names for sugar are  sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, fruit syrup and molasses.

Be aware of products that say ‘no added sugar’; normally they substitute the sugare with chemical sweeteners, some of which are being investigated for safety.

 

Please note that some schools do not permit nuts and nut products to be brought in lunchboxes (due to pupils with nut allergies), so check with your school before including nut products.

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