Lunch Box Planning
Pack more nutrition in your child’s lunchbox with the following healthy tips from Bermuda Diabetes Associations own clinical dietician and diabetes educator!
Sara Bosch de Noya, SRD
1. Children do not get enough fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Introducing these foods as part of everyday meals and snacks sets the stage for healthy eating later in life. Be creative in ways that you include fruits and vegetables in the lunchbox:
- Make fruit kebabs
- Let your kids experiment with different dried fruits
- Use dips to help veggies get eaten up
- Shred veggies like zucchini in muffin recipes
- Serve soups loaded with vegetables and pasta shapes
- Make fun salads with grape tomatoes, lettuce, cheese cubes and croutons
- Consider chunky salsa with baked tortilla chips as a vegetable serving for fussy vegetable eaters!
2. A healthy lunch should leave your child feeling full and satisfied. Higher fiber whole-grains have a benefit in controlling hunger as well as providing more nutrition than their white (refined) counterparts.
- As an alternative to wholewheat bread, try pita pockets, or even a sandwich or pizza made on wholewheat English muffin.
- Children can get bored of breads and sandwiches so offer wholewheat crackers along with sliced meat and lowfat cheese to make their own healthy lunchables!
3. Always include a high quality source of protein as part of a healthy lunch.
- Lean sliced deli meats such as turkey, ham, roast beef, or leftover cooked chicken, pork or lamb can all be used in creative ways as part of a sandwich, wrap, salad, or pita pocket.
- Boiled eggs, peanut butter, tuna, and salmon are also excellent sources of protein and will help to fill hungry stomachs and build muscle tissue.
- Processed meats such as bologna, spiced ham, spam etc have much higher fat and sodium contents, and do not offer as much protein per ounce of meat.
- Try to avoid processed cheeses and cheese spreads also as these are very high in sodium.
4. Most children are encouraged to eat fruit at recess in primary school. While this is certainly a healthy habit to develop, if your child likes sticky fruits such as raisins, grapes or cherries, it is good to include a cube of cheddar cheese or string cheese with the fruit. Eating the cheese after the fruit, alters the pH (acid) level in the mouth to help prevent tooth decay.
5. Do include a treat or favourite food in the lunch box. This is acceptable as it will add to the overall appeal of the lunchbox.
- PORTION SIZE is the key here.
- Let your child have a rota of favourite treats and encourage healthier options such as pretzels, goldfish, vanilla wafers, graham cookies, ginger snaps, baked chips, popcorn etc.
- Whenever time permits, bake homemade treats with your children like muffins, banana bread, angel food cake etc. These add something special to the lunchbox as well as being lower in sodium and fat, and more nutritious than store bought options.
6. Presentation is everything in getting new foods to be accepted!
- Have fun recyclable containers.
- Make sure lunchboxes are kept as cool as possible if food like salads, cheese or fruit is part of the meal.
- Drinking nice cold water is more appealing to most children than lukewarm water!
- Chill the lunchbox with sports ice packs or novelty ice cubes.