It is important that we are providing our children with a healthy lunchbox to support their growing bodies and brains. Research has shown that good nutrition during childhood is linked to improved concentration, attendance and grades at school.
So what should you include in your child’s lunchbox?
Preparing your child’s lunchbox doesn’t need to be a daunting or stressful task.
Make it fun and easy by following our dietitians top tips below:
Aim for balance
The Australian Dietary Guidelines promote enjoying a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups. In order to help your children achieve this balance, it is important to include all five food groups (lean meats + alternatives, dairy, grains, fruit and vegetables) in their lunchboxes.
The images below are a good reference around what a balanced lunchbox should include. (Images from https://heas.health.vic.gov.au/schools/healthy-lunchboxes )
Keep it interesting
Instead of providing the same food every day, try to rotate the types of food you include in your child’s lunchbox. This will prevent them from getting bored and will therefore be less tempted from buying other food or swapping food with their friends.
Get them involved
Providing your children with control over the food included in their lunchbox can help them to feel empowered. Provide your children with different choices within a set of healthy options to allow them some independence. Including your children in the process can help to build their knowledge and skills around healthy eating from an early age. Once you have both selected which foods will be included in your child’s lunchbox it can be a good idea to also include them in the preparation and/or cooking of the food to further increase their interest and skills.
Include enough water
Including a bottle of water in your child’s lunchbox is a good way to promote hydration, as well as encouraging them to refill this throughout the day. There is no point including sugary drinks in their lunchbox such as lemonade, gatorade, juice, flavoured milk as these drinks are filled with sugar and can lead to dental caries.
Ensure you are practising food safety
It is important that we are preparing our child’s food with food safety in the back of our minds to prevent food poisoning. To keep food cool opt for an insulated lunch box with an ice pack or include some frozen fruit, yoghurt or water to keep their food cool and safe.
Below are our dietitians favourite resources that can further assist you in creating a healthy and balanced lunchbox:
- Build a healthy lunchbox: https://healthylunchbox.com.au/builder/?utm_medium=website&utm_source=hlbweek-na&utm_campaign=nsw-hlbschool2019
- Healthy swaps: https://healthylunchbox.com.au/healthy-swaps/
- Creating a healthy sandwich: https://glnc.blogspot.com/2019/01/how-to-create-ultimate-sandwich-in-four.html
- Nutrition Australia lunch box week: https://www.healthylunchboxweek.org/
We hope these tips and resources provide you with some insight around what to include in your child’s lunchbox to ensure it is healthy and balanced.
If you need help with your nutrition, are unsure of what to eat, or would like more tailored nutrition advice for yourself or your family, book an appointment with our Dietitian, Laura Goodridge today!
DISCLAIMER: THIS BLOG POST IS AN EDUCATIONAL TOOL ONLY. IT IS NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR MEDICAL ADVICE FROM A REGISTERED AND QUALIFIED DOCTOR OR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.