Packing a healthy lunchbox ensures your kids remain active, alert and focused at school. However, there are many parents who are faced with the daily dilemma of what to pack in the lunch boxes. Trying to ensure that their kids eat something they will enjoy and is nutritious at the same time is a task that many parents struggle with. No matter how healthy your kid’s lunch box is, it won’t provide any nutritional value if it doesn’t get eaten!
Our nutrition team at Sidra have some tips for you to consider the next time you are pondering what to pack:
- Consider packing the lunch box featuring a variety of food groups including fruit and vegetables, starchy food, protein and dairy. Mix it up! The variety ensures that the kids are getting some of the key nutrients and vitamins to keep growing and stay healthy.
- The best rule to follow in general is to select foods that are low in fat, salt, sugar and no artificial flavours or colours.
- Include at least two servings of fruit and vegetables from the recommended five servings a day, which provides vitamins A and C and fibre. For example: include a whole cucumber and fresh orange juice.
- Try to include at least one serving of bread, rice, potatoes or pasta and other starchy foods from the recommended 4-6 servings a day. Go with healthy options that are prepared with less fat, sugar or salt. Wholegrain bread is a great option – it is rich in fibre and fortified with vitamins and iron.
- Consider including one serving of meat, fish, eggs, and beans from the recommended two servings a day. This will provide kids with iron, zinc, magnesium, B vitamins and Vitamin A.
Sausages, tuna, turkey, chicken nuggets, burgers and fish fingers are protein sources that can provide omega-3 fats. Please keep in mind to prepare these foods with less fat and choose the options with less salt.
- Always include at least one serving of milk, yoghurt, or cheese from the three recommended servings a day. This provides kids with much needed calcium, B vitamins, and iodine. Make sure to select the products that are fortified with vitamin D. For kids allergic to lactose, try options like soy, almond or rice milk.
- Try using healthy oils like rapeseed, olive or walnut when preparing food as they are high in omeda-3 fats.
- Encourage your kids to drink enough water over fruit juices and ensure their water bottles are full.
- Moms supposed to pack the foods in lunchbox in safe way, by adding for example: an ice brick or thermos, and that depend on the way that foods have been prepared.
- Try to cut up or shape the food using food cutters – some children are motivated to trying vegetables, fruit or other foods when they find it visually stimulating.
And a final tip – always remind your kids about the importance of washing their hands before and after eating!
For general information and guidance on healthy eating, the Supreme Council of Health in Qatar has recently released the National Dietary Guidelines: http://eservices.sch.gov.qa/qdg/En/download.jsp
For further information and recipes visit NHS web page: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/childhealth6-15/Pages/Lighterlunchboxes.aspx