Improving the nutritional value of the lunchbox
Bento-style lunch boxes are a great way to get your child eating a nutritionally balanced lunch. They often contain separate compartments, that will allow you to fill them with lots of healthy snacks across the food groups.Mandy Sacher from Wholesome Child explains how you can amp up the nutritional value of the lunchbox:
Swapping out white bread sandwiches is one of the best ways to improve the nutritional value of children’s school lunchboxes. Two great alternatives are:
- Wholegrain bread* – helps to stabilise blood sugar levels.
- Sourdough bread- has a lower glycemic index, and contains more fibre and vitamins.
*Two pieces of wholegrain bread is just the right amount to supply children a slow and steady release of energy to sustain them through the day.
Proteins are essential to stabilise blood sugar levels and keep children feeling alert for longer. The combination of wholegrain carbohydrates + a good quality protein such as:
- Lean meat
- Low sodium cheese
- Omega-3 rich salmon
- Mashed egg
…is the best way to balance out children’s blood sugar levels, improve their alertness and endurance at school.
Healthy fats have been linked to improved concentration, learning, behaviour and sleep in children*. An excellent way to boost the nutritional value of a child’s sandwich is through healthy fats such as:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Virgin coconut oil
- Unsalted butter
- Avocado pear (among others)
Healthy fats increase feelings of satiety, boost concentration levels and stabilise moods. These fats also promote the healthy development of vital organs, including the brain, eyes and skin.
Children need vegetables to thrive and survive, however, vegetables are sometimes devoid from children’s diets, especially in their lunchboxes. Vegetables strengthen and support a healthy immune system, and children need at least three to 5 serves of vegetables per day. The combination of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients found in vegetables help to maintain healthy skin, bones, eyes and heart. Vegetables’ high fibre and low-calorie content help children feel fuller for longer and maintain a healthy weight.*Food for the Brain evidence databaseSome great lunch box fillers include:
- Flaxseed crackers
- Vegetable muffins
- Sweet potato pikelets
- Beetroot bliss balls
- Lunch-box friendly muesli bars
- Vanilla muffin with cauliflower
- Popcorn (lightly salted)
- Trail mix
- Natural yoghurt (Sweeten with honey, fruit, granola)
- Hummus, guacamole, tzatziki
- Veggies: tomatoes, carrot sticks, capsicum
- Boiled egg, avocado slices
- Cooked veggies: sweet potato wedges, pumpkin, green beans