Let’s start with the most important thing to remember when packing a lunch box: an uneaten lunch contains zero nutrients. So don’t start the year by packing a lunchbox full of foods you just wish they would eat! Do you want them to eat a healthy meal today or love nutritious food forever? Patience leads to progress. Confirm where they are, have an idea of where you want them and slowly move there.
One in five boys (20 percent) and one in four girls (25 percent) between the ages of five and 12 is overweight. Does this make a difference to what goes in their lunch box? Absolutely not. If a child is underweight, you may need to adjust their lunch box to include high-energy foods. However, if their weight is healthy or they live in a larger body, the guidelines remain the same.
Ideally, a lunch box should contain specific food groups. For example a fruit, a vegetable, a whole grain carbohydrate, a rich source of protein and a healthy drink.
A healthy drink for children and teenagers is milk or water. Fruit juice is something that could be offered once a day and always with a meal to reduce the negative side effects on their energy and teeth. Smoothies are often a healthier choice than fruit juices because smoothies contain all of the fruit and not just its juice. However, eating fruit is preferable to drinking fruit for most children.
Parents can feel the pressure to get away from sandwiches at lunchtime. I’m not sure why. Sandwiches are a nutritious choice. They are eaten with pleasure and enjoyed. You can offer things like wraps or Turkish flatbread if you can fold them well and your child can eat them without the contents falling out. Because of this, Pitta bags can be an easier choice!
Bread is a healthy choice, with whole grains getting extra nutritional points. So are crackers. Something I try to do in my house is blending the grains that I provide. Porridge made from oats, brown wheat bread, rye crackers, spelled soda bread, crackers made from corn or rice, etc.
When it comes to the sandwich fillings, I would encourage keeping them fresh and varied. I know this can be challenging at times as many kids love nothing more than a ham sandwich.
Even so, processed meats like ham are not a common choice. Also keep in mind that if children in their class have allergies, e.g. B. Peanuts and sesame seeds.
You might also want to avoid being the kid that opens the lunch box with smelly food inside! Luckily, you can’t go wrong with leftover meat from the night before. Cheese is also a healthy option.
Irish children need to start eating more fruit and vegetables – there is much that can be done to better support this. Try to make it a habit to offer both vegetables and fruit. Also, try to encourage variety. A child is more likely to eat more fruit and vegetables overall if a variety is offered rather than a large portion of one thing.
If adding vegetables to school lunches is new to your household, start small by adding a small portion. A child is more likely to try something new when offered a small amount than to be overwhelmed by a large portion. For example, a small stick of cucumber instead of five sticks of cucumber.
Remember that fruits and vegetables taste better when eaten in season and locally grown. The reds, oranges, and yellows tend to be sweeter than the greens. When buying frozen fruit and vegetables, look for “seasonal pick” on the packaging, as these are often more flavor-resistant.
Children don’t have much time to eat, so try to offer fruits and vegetables that are already peeled or chopped. Better yet, get them involved in making their own lunch from a young age. If they helped choose and prepare food, they are more likely to eat it.
Finally, when food comes back uneaten, offer it back with their afternoon snack. It can be more of a time constraint than a taste issue — kids often choose to play with their friends rather than finish their lunch.
Ultimately, it’s best to keep things simple. Keep pushing the variety — slowly — and aim to make sure each lunchbox is balanced.
Lunch box checklist
- carrot sticks
- Red, orange and yellow peppers
- Peanut butter (check allergies/school policy)
- Whole grain bread
- Rye crackers
- Wholemeal Pita
- spelt roll
- Keep a small bottle of water in her school bag
https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/health-features/dietitian-orla-walsh-how-to-shop-for-the-perfect-back-to-school-lunch-for-your-kids-41925600.html Nutritionist Orla Walsh: How to buy the perfect back-to-school lunch for your kids