The Lunch Box Challenge !

It’s back to school time. Most of you would have planned during the holidays what needs to be packed for your child’s lunch on the first day of school, while some would run at the last minute.

A child spends most of his or her day time at the school and for some kids who attend after school care; the day extends even further as they require significant fuel and power to get through the grind successfully. Thus lunch boxes need to be packed with an energy filled lunch and nutritionally complete snacks.

Am I packing Right?

The answer to this question is not an easy one, with nuclear families and the pressure of managing work – life balance, parents often try to meet the demand for their time between work and home which leads to treading a convenient route.

Most lunch boxes today are packed with convenient lunch and snack options or those that can be easily pulled from the pantry or picked from the supermarket. The most common varieties found are muffins, burgers, chips, lollies and many such convenient foods. However when packing these foods we tend to ignore the sugar and fat content in them. These types of foods not only have a detrimental impact on a child’s health if consumed regularly but also have an impact on the child’s behavior which at times prevents them from adopting a healthy lifestyle in future.

What should I pack in an ideal lunch box?

The key is to provide a variety of foods daily to meet their nutrient needs. Keep special treats for occasions and where possible out of their lunch boxes.

The box should be filled with food from different groups and should have a right balance of fibre, carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins, sugar and fat.

Ideally whole grains and whole meal breads are great for sandwiches as they provide more fibre and a feeling of fullness. If your child is reluctant to eat wheat bread try high fibre white bread or opt for half and half. If they usually eat wheat bread, encourage options with grains.

Milk and milk products provide good amounts of protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals which are important to keep their teeth, bones and muscles healthy. Yoghurt, dairy foods, cheese in form of cubes, sticks or slices should be a part of the box.

Fruits and vegetables are another important food group and should form a part of every lunch box. Getting your child to eat fruits and vegetables, at least 5+ a day can often be a challenge for parents, however it is important that this is provided in the most attractive and varied way to encourage acceptance.

How do I get my child to finish his packed lunch everyday?

This is another common area where most parents struggle, however the key here is to kill the monotony. A variety in method of preparation and presentation can create a positive mindset.

Make their lunch attractive; be creative, especially when dealing with young children. Include vegetables in home made burgers, pasta bakes, home made mini muffins, celery and cucumber sticks with cheesy dips and try fruit kebabs. Find attractive options and where possible get your child / children to pack their own lunch box.

The important thing is to never give up and encourage it as a fun and positive process as this inculcates a better acceptance of healthier habits in long term and helps maintain good health and well-being in adulthood

Till next time….pack wise, eat RIGHT and work it out…

This article is a general guideline ONLY, if you have any medical condition and for individual conditions you should consult a health professional or your medical practitioner immediately.

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