School’s back! Who better to give parents the inspiration for what to pack in those school lunch boxes, to keep our kids well nourished, than haven’s resident naturopath and food expert, Georgia Harding.
You only have to look inside a school lunch box to understand that the industrialisation and commercialisation of our food chain has a strong hold on the next generation. Pick-a-packet-style lunches and peer pressure to conform to the processed food norm, can make convincing your kids to eat ‘real’ food at school a bit of a challenge.
A recent Griffith University study found that most kids’ lunches are “falling well short” nutritionally. Apart from being overloaded with sugary and processed snacks, most are lacking in the vegetable department (more than 70 per cent contained no vegetables at all).
We can’t expect kids to learn and thrive socially at school if they are fuelled by highly processed, sugar-loaded lunches. One third of our kids’ daily nutrient intake comes from lunch. Because children grow and develop at such a rapid rate, making every mouthful count at every meal is essential for their long-term health and wellbeing.
With the new school term underway, I though I would outline some basic guidelines and tips for packing a lunch box with real, nourishing and unprocessed foods to support your child’s learning and development.
Six tips for packing a nutritionally balanced school lunch
- Pack a little fresh fruit – up to two small serves per day.
- Include unprocessed protein – this is what fills them up and provides them with the fuel they need to be able to concentrate, focus and run and play. Cooking extra meat at dinner and packing leftovers is a really easy way to include protein in their lunch box.
- Always include vegetables (cooked or raw) – as many as possible. The reason why vegetables are so good for us is because not only do they provide us with fibre and energy-giving carbohydrates, they also represent a concentrated source of vitamins, minerals and beneficial phyto (plant) chemicals. All kids need to eat vegetables, even at lunchtime. Persistence and lots of encouragement is essential to convert veggie haters to veggie lovers! I always say you’d never give up on teaching your kids to read or write, so please keep trying with the foods that nourish them. I have worked with many vegetable-fussy children in my many years of clinical practice, none of which were hopeless cases.
- Dips are good for enticing some veggie-fussy kids. Try pesto, hummus or even a little natural yoghurt with tahini and sea salt mixed in.
- Make sandwiches only from ’real’ additive-free breads, preferably wholegrain sourdough. Always fill them with a little protein and salad or vegetables.
- Only include low sugar, wholefood treats. I have lots of recipes on my website which I tend to bake in bulk and freeze so they are easy to grab and go. I pack them frozen and they are defrosted to eat come morning tea.
Our kids’ health is so precious and it is our responsibility to do what we need to do, to make sure their nutritional needs are met. School meals are no exception.
A Well Nourished Lunch Box is available now. This fully interactive eBook will guide you on how to pack your kids’ (and even your own) delicious, nutritious lunches, simply and easily. Beautifully designed, the whole family will absolutely love the 150+ pages of recipes and healthy inspiration to suit all tastes and dietary requirements.
Purchase before the end of February to receive a bonus eBook to help you plan your next kid’s birthday party (including THE BEST healthy, yet totally delicious, chocolate birthday cake recipe).