14 October 2014
Top Tips For Packing The Perfect Lunch Box
Are you sometimes unsure about what to pack in your child’s lunch box? In this guest post, Bel Smith from The Root Cause shares her top tips for packing the perfect lunch box.
If you are sometimes unsure about what to pack in your child's lunch box, you are certainly not alone and it’s perfectly normal! Research studies of lunch boxes in Australia show many parents are unsure, and even overwhelmed, about what to include to make their child’s lunch box healthy.
As a mum myself, I too have been in that place. In fact, I spent the first two years of my daughter’s schooling sending a lunch box that looked the one below. At that time, I thought it was a pretty good lunch. After all, it had a packet of rice wheels (which must be good because I picked them up from the health food aisle), an apple, a squeezie yoghurt, a Babybel cheese, and a cheese and vegemite sandwich. This was pretty much what she had every day, but some days I would rotate the type of fruit and the contents of the sandwich. I knew no better at the time.
Today, I am a Health and Wellness Coach, and I am a Mum on a Mission to Transform Children’s Health, One Lunch Box at a Time. This is the sort of lunch box I now pack for my two kids – and they eat it!
Through my training to become a Health and Wellness Coach, I learnt about how food affects our mood, behaviour, concentration and our sleep. I started making subtle changes to my family’s food and the changes I witnessed in my children (and my husband who had been diagnosed with depression) were remarkable.
That is why I’m now on a mission. I want to help you learn more about what’s best to pack in your child’s lunch box.
Here is my one very simple rule to remember:
If you do this, your lunch boxes will be providing your child with a healthy balance of foods to give them energy and provide concentration.
Now if you want to go a little deeper than this simple rule, here are my top tips for making a healthy fun lunch box – one that your children will want to eat!
1. Pack a Rainbow of Colours of Fruits and Vegetables
- Each colour of fruit and vegetable help different parts of the body. By providing a mix of colours, you are supporting different parts of your child’s body
- Include as many different colours to make your child’s lunch box look colourful and inviting. For example, orange carrots, green grapes, and so on.
2. Pack Wholefoods
- Wholefoods are foods taken directly from their source and contain all their original ingredients. They haven’t been altered in any way, and give your child the best nutrition and sustained energy.
- Processed foods usually come in a packet, and the natural ingredients have been changed. They have usually had other ingredients added, such as sugar, salt, additives and preservatives. These are all things which can have a negative on your children’s mood, behaviour and concentration.
- A simple way to pack wholefoods your child will eat is this:
- Ask them to choose 2-3 fruits they like, and 2-3 vegetables they like. Then rotate them during the week so they are getting a variety of what they like.
NOTE: If they don’t like a lot of vegetables, don’t stress. Just put at least 1 in they like, then just cut it differently each day so it looks more appealing (eg. circles, sticks, cubes, etc).
3. Pack a good balance between Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats
- Carbohydrates are your child’s energy source
- Protein is what keeps them full
- Fats are essential for growth and development.
- There are both good and bad carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It’s important to pack only good sources of each. You can learn more about this here.
4. Rotate sandwiches with non-sandwich options
- Bread today has changed from the bread of 20 years ago. Today the quality of the wheat is not as nutritious and many breads have additives and preservatives added as well.
- In addition, gluten used to be found mainly just in bread, but is now found in many of the household packaged food products we buy. Our children’s digestive systems (and ours for that matter) are not designed to digest this amount of gluten.
- Rotating sandwiches reduces your child’s exposure to gluten. An added positive is that it adds more variety to their lunch boxes.
- A simple way of rotating sandwiches out, is to pack either leftovers from dinner or repurpose leftovers as a lunch meal. If you’d like some ideas on how you can do this, visit here.
As parents, we do the best we can until we know better, and then when we know better, we can do better.
I hope this article has helped remove some of the uncertainty around what to pack in your child’s lunch box, and given you lots of new ideas of healthy foods to give your child.
Good luck and have fun packing healthy lunch boxes!
About the author: Bel Smith, founder of The Root Cause is a Certified Health and Wellness Coach and creator of the Mad Food Science™ Program and The 5 Minute Healthy Lunch Box System™. With her fun and simple messages about health, Bel gets kids and parents to understand and take responsibility for the food they put in their mouth, and to have meaningful conversations about food without the usual parent-child power struggle. Visit therootcause.com.au website to join The Root Cause community, and receive free recipes, tips and other health related information via email.