Heath foods get a bad reputation, Once the “Heathy” word is attached to something. When Heathy is used it is more likely to receive a thumbs down from kids (Nelson – Steen, 1986).
Kids need vitamins, minerals, whole grains, healthy fats, and proteins to function at their best and grow to their potential. They need to limit their intake of refined sugars and avoid foods loaded with trans fats and high fructose syrup. We believe that it’s all about balance.
By following a healthy diet would provide the body with the necessary vitamins and minerals which will help the body in energy metabolism, building and repairing muscle tissue, and adequate immune function. (Manore & Thompson, 2000).
Getting back into the swing of things like work, school, etc. can be hard sometimes, but what helps is ensuring that you are fueling yourself and your kids right. As a parent, your job is to make sure your kids are eating right and getting the right nutrition.
Some kids are not so fond of that peanut butter sandwich every day, and it’s good to include some colourful fruit and vegetables in their lunch box.
What does a balanced lunchbox consist of?
Include a source of:
- Protein (lean meat, egg, nut butter, beans, cheese)
- A starch – preferable whole grain
Let’s dive into some ideas:
Fruits: Fresh fruit is best of course. Whatever is in season that the kids love is what they need. Another option is dried fruits. For some, dried fruits have gained a bad rep but don’t be fooled by this – sun-dried fruits contain loads of nutrients and fibre, and are way better than a sugary sweet.
Vegetables – Fresh crunchy veg, cut into bite-size pieces and paired with a little dip like hummus or cream cheese.
What if your kids do not like veggies? There are ways to hide this. Blend up butternut and make it into a sauce for pasta.
Starch – wholegrain is best but make it interesting by getting different types of bread. Perhaps, one day a week you can include a delicious seed bread or ciabatta style bread. Try a pita bread or wrap instead of a sandwich. You can include their favourite crackers, or a wholesome muffin. Potatoes and Sweet potatoes are also a great option, perhaps they LOVE potato salad, then add this to their lunch box as their starch. Other great starch options are grains. Rice, couscous, quinoa, polenta etc. Whichever they love, add this as a portion with a protein or add it to their wrap etc.
What about the fillings?
The fillings are where you can add your veggies and protein. A good ol’ sarmie can be really delicious. Some other ideas:
- Egg or Tuna Mayo, or chickpea mayo (include chopped up cucumber, carrots and tomatoes)
- Pizza Sandwich (with their fave pizza toppings inside)
- Chicken with hummus and cucumber
- Try this delicious Chicken Wrap with a sneaky veggie sauce
- Pea & Tomato Pasta
- Nut Butter (peanut butter, tahini, hummus, etc.) – Be careful of certain nut butters or peanut butter as some other kids at school could be allergic.
Some other fun lunch ideas:
- Lunch Kebabs – pop some cheese, vegetables, and egg or chicken onto a kebab stick
- Leftover Pasta (from dinner the night before, or make a little extra to have a pasta salad)
- Frittata or omelet. Make it the night before and give them a slice of frittata for lunch (plus some hidden veggies).
- Cut your sandwiches into fun shapes!
What can you give them for lunch box snacks and treats?
- “Banana sushi” is a fun way to include a healthy fruit with some seeds, nuts, etc.
- Peanut Butter Energy Balls or Bars
- Chocolate-dipped fruits. One day a week prepare some fruit dipped in chocolate.
- Fruit Kebabs or fruit with yoghurt
- Nuts – try raw or roasted nuts and raisins (or a trail mix)
- Chia Pudding
- No-bake Trail Mix Bars
- Food Lover’s Oat or Coconut Snack Bars
What if my kid has an allergy, food sensitivity, or intolerance?
If you child has a food allergy, sensitivity or intolerance then it’s best to speak to a medical expert about what they can and can’t eat. If you want to find out more about dairy-free, gluten-free, etc. products that you can use, chat to a dietitian like @thegreendietitian or @nutritionalsolutions for some advice.
We have a range of health food products in Food Lover’s Market stores to suit whatever your needs are.
Finally, some tips to take small shifts to healthier foods for the Kids. (recommended from familydoctor.org)
- Do not Ban Sweets: By saying your child can not have doughnuts or cake ever again can create cravings. Just make these types of food a special treat instead of a regular part of their diet
- Modify recipes: Many recipes taste just as good with less sugar added. Try reducing the amount of added sugar.
- Avoid sugary drinks: It is recommended that children should have no more than 12 grams of sugar a day (3 teaspoons). Yet 1 can of regular soda has 40 grams (10 teaspoons) of added sugar. Cutting out sodas and juices is an easy way to reduce sugar.
- Eat more fruit. Make sure they are getting their 5-a-day
- Get the kids involved: If or when your kids are old enough, get them involved in the kitchen to teach them a little something, whether it’s how to cook something or simply learning about the different foods and food groups. Plus, it can be really fun!
Finally, remember that you need to set an example for your child. You are the role model and idol.