What are you putting in your child's lunchbox? Make healthy choices for your child this School Health Week.
With School Health Week, which runs from 4 to 8 March, in the spotlight, parents are reminded to pack healthy lunch boxes for their children.
A nutritious meal is crucial in assisting with concentration levels in the classroom; with lunch providing one third of a child’s daily energy intake, a study by the UK based Centre for Diet and Activity Research revealed.
“Nutrition is key to learning, as it provides learners with the energy to engage in school activities,” says Madelein Luttig, Grade 2 teacher at Riverside College
, Burgundy Estate. “While families may serve healthy meals at home, school lunch boxes are often filled with junk food such as chips and chocolate. It’s important to ensure your child has access to a varied, balanced diet throughout the day.”
Not only do ‘junk foods’ lack brain-boosting vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, but they can also reduce the body’s intake of nutrients, effecting concentration levels.
An Oxford University study revealed that too much processed food can lead to bad behavior and learning difficulties. Eating a varied and balanced diet on the other hand has proven to assist primary school children with better classroom performance, as well as improving self-esteem and interaction with peers.
“By teaching healthy eating habits from a young age, you’ll improve your child’s health in the long term, as most lifestyle behaviors develop during childhood,” says Luttig. “With a bit of effort and preparation, lunchbox snacks can be fun and delicious.”
Luttig’s healthy lunchbox tips:
- Swap white sliced bread for low GI or wholewheat
- Omega-3’s are great brain food – e.g. salmon, walnuts or kiwi fruit
- Try food pairing, such as cherry tomatoes with cheese cubes
- Pack a small tub of yogurt for calcium
- Cut fruit and vegetables into fun shapes – think carrot sticks and cucumber wedges
- Last night’s leftovers are a healthy option over another sandwich
- Pack water, not juice – if your child is reluctant, try diluting the juice
- Oat crunchies are delicious and healthy, plus you can make them yourself!
- Boiled eggs and biltong are easy to pack and are a good source of protein
What do you put in your child's lunchbox?