A healthy diet is essential for children, particularly when they are in school, to ensure they get all necessary nutrients to stay energetic and focused throughout the day. This means that packing them a proper lunch is vital. Lunch is the meal a child has the most power over, as its one they eat without an adult around to instruct them to finish their food, so it’s essential to prepare only the best options for them to choose from.
The easiest way to start making a healthy lunch is to consider the three necessary food groups—carbohydrates, fats and protein. A balance of these three groups gives a child constant energy throughout the day, as well as sustained concentration and mood stabilization.
The best carbs are those that release slowly, such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrain, like oats. Fats affect your mood and allow you exercise better, so it’s important to include good fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olives or oily fish such as salmon and tuna. Protein can be found in meats, nuts and eggs, which are especially good to include in a child’s lunch because eggs have choline, a macronutrient essential for creating brain cells. To combine all three necessary nutrients, consider making a sandwich or wrap consisting of wholemeal bread, lean turkey, greens, egg and avocado.
When making your lunches, try to avoid items loaded with sugar, such as juice, candy and sweets. Not only are all of these over-processed, they give kids quick energy spikes followed by a hard crash, which isn’t ideal for a day of studying. Others you may not consider to be offending foods are chocolate spreads, white bread, or peanut butter and jam sandwiches, all of which are laden with sugar. Chips are also very high in calories and unhealthy fats, and do more harm than good as a treat. In addition, pre-packaged muesli bars also contain a lot of sugar, so make them at home instead.
In regards to drink options for your little one, water is always best. In order to factor in how much water a child needs each day, multiply their body weight by 35 millilitres. A fun tip is to freeze their water bottle overnight before a hot day so they have chilled water at lunch time.
An example of a healthy lunch box:
1 carrot and one piece of celery
A wrap made with turkey, chicken, tuna, egg or salmon and salad and avocado
1 litre of water
1 homemade muesli bar
2 bliss balls
Natural muffins (also included in my book!)
If you’re worried about your kids getting on board with a healthy lunch, then takes steps to get them excited about their meals. Invite the kids to assist you in prepping the meal in the kitchen. Their involvement will ensure they anticipate the meal the following day and you can make the most of this opportunity by listening to what they do and don’t like. Try to find better substitutes for these portions and allow your child to be heard, empowering them to make and choose their own meals.
ABOUT THE EXPERT
Karina Francois is an Australian accredited naturopath and owner of Infinite Health Practice, which has been running for the last 14 years. She is trained as an iridologist, herbalist, nutritionist, homeopath, and also practices biomesotherapy. Karina’s areas of expertise include treating patients with issues relating to hormones, menstrual cycles, menopause, pregnancy, weight loss, eating disorders, musculoskeletal ailments, skin conditions, blood pressure, anxiety, depression and asthma. She is also an international author and public speaker. In 2015, she published her first book, “Clean Food – Clear Thinking”. You can hear Karina every week on Star FM Gippsland Breakfast with Mandy and Elliott.