Lunch boxes: 198 opportunities for a healthy child
Did you know that a healthy snack at school plays a major role in your child’s ability to concentrate and participate at school? This year you have about 198 opportunities to pack a healthy lunch box for your child.
Most school children and caregivers are gearing up for another jam-packed year full of activities, studies, and sport. Nutrition plays an important role in a learner’s performance, as a healthy and balanced lunch box will provide the learner with the right nutrition to sustain them through the day and support their mental and physical abilities.
It may sound daunting to pack so many lunches, but remember lunch boxes don’t need to be fancy or take hours to prepare. All your child needs is a lunch box that contains fruit and vegetables, high fibre foods, protein, dairy, and water. Why not try these ideas for a balanced lunch box:
Fruit and Vegetable: Examples include carrots, raisins, apple, sweetcorn, cucumber, grapes, banana, cherry tomatoes, and berries. Always try to use what is seasonal as it will be cheaper.
Idea for lunch box: Make fruits and vegetables interesting by cutting it in different shapes. Cut carrots into sticks for easy eating, sweetcorn off the cob from the previous evening’s supper, or a small fruit salad with cut pieces of fruit.
High Fibre Foods: Bread (remember to select the one with the highest amount of fibre), wraps, pasta, rice and crackers are all sources of high fibre.
Idea for lunch box: Cut sandwiches into different shapes and add a spread with less sugar. Baby spinach is nutritious and tastes great with a protein such as cheese or ham on a sandwich. Wraps are an easy go-to where you can add anything from avocado, cheese, ham, tuna, marmite and lettuce or baby spinach. Children can also enjoy leftover pasta from supper for a filling lunch.
Protein: Examples include ham, chicken, egg, biltong, peanut butter, and nuts.
Idea for lunch box: Include halved hardboiled eggs or an egg sandwich, ham slices, peanut butter or any leftover meat from supper.
Dairy: Examples include cheese, yoghurt and cottage cheese.
Idea for lunch box: A small tub of yoghurt is an easy option. Be sure to choose one with the least amount of sugar. Cheese in any form and cottage cheese as a spread on a wrap or sandwich is also great.
Water: Always remember that the cheapest and healthiest thirst quencher is clean water.
There are days when buying lunch at the tuckshop might be the best option for the day. Help your child make healthy choices by teaching them to avoid snacks that are high in sugar, fat, salt or artificial colourants and flavours. Food should be rich in nutrients, minerals and vitamins.
Please remember that good nutrition must be supported by good health support. Make sure you support your child’s health by keeping their immunisations up to date and deworming them regularly. The Western Cape Government Health has programmes in place to offer every child the opportunity to be immunised and dewormed, but it is still the responsibility of the child carer to ensure that their child receives these services. Take your Road to Health Booklet to the clinic if you are unsure if your child’s immunisations are up to date. Deworming is done on a regular basis, but should your child not have received this service within the past six months, visit your clinic or ask the school when the school nurse will visit again.
Give your child the best opportunity to learn and be healthy this year.