10 Tips for a Healthy School Lunch

10 Tips for a Healthy School Lunch

1. Keep it healthy and balanced.

This really is the key to a happy, healthy and well-developed child.  The easiest way to see what a daily diet should look like is to check out the Food Pyramid.  It represents all of the food groups and gives easy visual aides regarding proportions and serving amounts. If you stick to the Food Pyramid for each meal, you won’t go wrong in producing a healthy and balanced diet for your children.

2. Keep it interesting.

Kids get bored with the same thing.   There are so many options available today so variations on the ‘sambo’ are plentiful. E.g. Bagels, wraps, pita pockets, crackers, rice/pasta salads.

3.  Keep them hydrated.

We lose about a litre and a half of water/fluid throughout the day through going to the bathroom, perspiring and breathing.  With all that running around kids do it is important to replace lost fluid with water, juice and milk.  These drinks will replace lost fluid and in the case of juice and milk, will add important vitamins and minerals.  When we are fully hydrated, we are at our best.  We can concentrate better, are more alert and some people find that head, stomach and throat aches can lessen or disappear.  Keep your child hydrated and see their natural spark!

4.  Keep them energized.

You want your child to be able to be full of energy all day so they get the most out of it.  We get our energy primarily from Carbohydrate rich foods and as mentioned before it is recommended to have at least 6 servings of carbohydrate rich food everyday.  Make sure your child always has breakfast.  This meal will set them up for the day.  Try and avoid sugary cereals. Go for no added sugar, high fibre cereal like porridge or muesli and wholegrain toast.  Have a glass of OJ as a fruit and veg serving.

5.  Keep them full.

The last thing you want is your child to be starving!  Again ensuring breakfast will help keep hunger away for a while but it is important to ensure that they eat little and often and the types of food that keep children full are the high fibrous foods like wholegrain bread etc.  When cooking rice and pasta go for the wholegrain variety.  There is hardly any difference in the pasta and most people find Buckley rice has a nicer texture and taste than white.

6.  Keep them involved.

Find out what your child’s likes and dislikes are.   Talk to them and explain why it’s important to eat healthy foods and explain what they are and what benefits they’ll get.  By asking what they like you won’t see uneaten lunches at the bottom of the bag, but remember who the boss is and come up with compromises.

7.  Keep them growing.

Children grow at a rapid rate.  They’re bones and organs need consistent good nutrition to develop properly.  Calcium rich dairy foods will ensure healthy bones and teeth. Protein rich foods like meat, chicken, fish and eggs etc. are important for optimum growth.

8.  Keep them steady.

Sugar is the main factor behind energy highs and lows and children are particularly sensitive to sugar.   Energy highs and lows can be seen in their behaviour.  To keep a more even, ‘steady’, keel, minimize the amount of processed, high sugary foods such as sugary cereals, sweets, and fizzy drinks.  A lot of food manufacturers add sugar to foods aimed at kids, so keep an eye on labels and where possible, cut out processed foods and go for wholegrain varieties.  Fruit is a sweet food that can be swapped for regular candy.

9.  Keep them fit.

If a child develops the love of sport and exercise it will more than likely stay with them into their teens and adulthood.  Encourage daily exercise … why not join them?

10.  Keep their teeth.

Another reason to get rid of the sugary drinks and sweets and swap them for fruit, water, juice and to really look after their teeth encourage milk and yoghurt drinks for extra calcium.   And of course encourage twice daily brushing!