Healthy lunch box advice

2018-01-24 06:00
A healthy lunch box. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A healthy lunch box. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

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SCHOOLS opened last week, which means it’s healthy lunch box time.

Maritzburg Fever spoke to dietician Chanel Archary of The Food Arch in Northdale about what parents must remember when putting together a healthy lunch box for their children.

She said parents must remember the food they give their children now teaches them what to eat when they’re older.

She said eating unhealthy food at school not only negatively affects children’s mental and physical performance, it also has a detrimental impact on their health and well-being as they grow older.

“When packing a lunch box ensure you have a variety of healthy food as no one food contains all the nutrients the body needs.

“Avoid packing foods high in saturated and trans fats, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, such as chips, fizzy drinks, sweets, and so on. These foods decrease the child’s ability to concentrate, recall information and formulate new thoughts in class as they are soon hungry again.

“When making a sandwich opt for whole wheat or brown bread, which is high in fibre, and make sure you have a protein filling such as eggs, baked beans, cheese, peanut butter, and so on.

“Instead of packing fruit juice rather pack fruit because it has lots of fibre, which helps keep them fuller for longer and helps balance blood sugar levels.”

Archary said parents must encourage children to carry a water bottle and drink plenty of water. She said milk and low fat, unsweetened yoghurt are great additions to any lunch box as they help to build healthy teeth and bones

“Children first eat with their eyes so try to make the lunch box attractive. Use different colour fruit and vegetables. Cut them into different shapes to create interest, and make it easier for small hands to hold. It is important to remove seeds and pips for younger children as this can pose a choking hazard.

“If your child does not like brown bread make a sandwich using one slice of brown bread and one slice of white bread, which creates a checkerboard effect that makes the lunch more exciting.”

Archary says besides making sandwiches put leftover food from the previous night in the lunch box, as long as it is healthy and has been stored safely the night before.

Parents must ask their children to help them when making their lunch so they learn about healthy eating and understand why they eat that particular food. Parents must also read the food labels to ensure they choose the healthy options.

Archary also advised parents to ask their children if they enjoyed their lunch or if it was enough.

“By communicating with your child you will learn more about your child and can then make small adjustments. If your child doesn’t like a certain food try preparing it in a different way or find out why the food is disliked.

“The child may have had a bad experience and is now associating this food with that bad experience. Sometimes your child will come back with unfinished lunch, however, parents shouldn’t get angry as the child may be practising mindful eating and is therefore listening to their hunger and feeding cues.

“It is also good to pack extra lunch for the child so he or she can share with friends or they can give to a child who comes from a disadvantaged background. This will also teach them to care about other people.”

She said lunch time is also a great opportunity to teach children about budgeting.

She said parents must explain that their pocket money is to be used not only for the tuck shop, but also for toys or sports gear.

For more information on healthy diets, email chanel@thefoodarch. or call 062 792 9181 or 033 391 4022.

A healthy lunch box.


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