A healthy lunchbox is an essential aspect of optimal health, concentration, and wellness. There is nothing more disappointing than refilling your child’s lunchbox in the morning only to discover that he barely touched the food from the day before. In the mad rush of mornings, the packed lunch often takes a back seat.
We are all aware of packing nutritious, healthy food to keep concentration levels high and hyperactivity (often caused by sugar during break time) low. While families may serve healthy meals at home, school lunch boxes are often filled with junk food lacking brain-boosting vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Research has shown that junk and processed foods can lead to destructive behaviour and learning difficulties.
Children need balanced meals that include lean proteins, whole grains, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fruit, and vegetables. Yes, even in their lunch boxes! Just like you, your kids eat with their eyes, and with a bit of effort, lunch boxes can be healthy, fun, and delicious!
Firstly, bump up the colour. Increase the “wow factor” by adding all-natural foods such as carrots, cucumbers, blueberries, cherry tomatoes, or strawberries. Be a little creative, skewer these, use toothpicks to stack cheese, or add a tasty dip like hummus. Have fun with shapes. Use peanut butter or almond butter and cut the sandwich into shapes with a cookie cutter or cut a whole grain wrap filled with coleslaw and tuna into bite-size wheels. Add a few wholegrain crackers with some unexpected sweetness – maybe a tiny container with some honey. It must be easy to eat. Though you might not mind peeling an orange, your child certainly will. Sugar snap peas or fruit and vegetables cut into manageable matchsticks are easier to eat and offer variety.
Pack at least three different types of food every day. Think of it as a meal on a plate: protein, carbohydrates, fat, fresh produce, and a wholesome treat on the side. A delicious, easy-to-make oats cookie could sweeten the deal. Get creative with what is available. Make dinners with lunches in mind, for example, leftover spaghetti or chicken stir fry; it is a total time saver. Roast chicken can be turned into sandwiches and wholegrain pasta into salads. Use olive oil in the salad dressing, or maybe a yogurt dressing for that extra calcium punch. Give them options. It does not mean free reign; it just means broadening their options. Instead of the same old peanut butter sandwich, offer them a tuna salad sandwich.