AS we all know, what you eat for lunch can really set you up for a make or break day.
Foods fuel not only your body but your mind too, which is why it's so important to make sure your kids' lunchboxes are packed with nutritional meals.
Experts claim the ideal kids' lunch should contain a source of slow-release carbohydrates along with protein.
The Sun nutritionist Amanda Ursell says: “The nutritional content of a lunchbox is crucial. Get the balance right and you will not just help your kids concentrate better in class, but also help their growth rate, bone strength, energy levels and behaviour.”
Here, we reveal what the ‘perfect’ school lunchbox looks like according to nutritionists…
Slow-release carbs can include pasta, rice or potatoes, but these are essential for stabilising blood sugar and making sure your little one stays full until dinner.
Including a sandwich made of wholegrain or sourdough bread is a great option.
High protein foods are essential for muscle growth and brain function.
Some you might also include are eggs, fish, yoghurt, cheese and tofu, as these healthy options will keep kids fuller for longer and mean they're less likely to reach for a sugary snack.
Dietician Rebecca Gawthorne says: She said: "Eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, lean meats and poultry and fish provide an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, particularly iron needed for concentration, and protein to build, maintain and repair body tissues, muscles and organs."
What the NHS recommends schoolkids have for lunch
The NHS gives a number of suggestions and guidelines on their Change4Life website:
- Base the lunchbox on foods like bread, rice, pasta and potatoes – wholegrain ideally – too keep kids fuller for longer
- If your child isn't keen on wholegrain, try making sandwiches with one slice of white and one slice of wholemeal bread
- Try to keep lunchboxes interesting by using a variety of shapes like bagels, pittas and wraps
- Make food fun as lunches can be more exciting if the child has to put them together, like having foods for dipping and makes a change from sandwiches every day.
- Opt for low fat foods, like lean meats or fish.
- Cut down on the amount of spreads you put into sandwiches
- Always add a bit of salad and vegetables to the meal
- Cut down on the crisps
- Chop up some fruit or peal satsuamas and add those instead of sweets
- Cheese can be high in fat and salt so pick strong tasting ones or go for low-fat varieties
- Get the kids involved in making the lunch – they'll be more likely to eat it if they helped make it
Fatty foods are given the thumbs-up by nutritionist – but only if they're the healthy kind.
Items like sunflower seeds, avocado and pumpkin seedsare proven to improve concentration and boost your mood, meaning your child will be on good form at school.
Parents are advised to avoid stuffing chocolate bars, high-sugar yoghurts ad crisps to healthier alternatives instead.
The NHS Change For Life website has lots of helpful swap ideas to reduce your kids' sugar intake and encourage them to eat a more varied diet – for example, swapping a cake bar for a slice of malt loaf.
Two servings of fruit or vegetables
We all know we ought to have five portions of fruit or vegetables every day, but it can be difficult to get children interested in eating their greens.
If this is a struggle for you, packing easy-to-eat foods like bitesize pieces of apple or carrot batons might help.
Rebecca said: "Vegetables and legumes provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre and phytonutrients to ensure that long-term health and immunity is maintained."
For more lunchbox ideas, these are healthy swaps you can make to slash the amount of sugar your child eats.
Elsewhere, a mum makes ‘snack station’ for her kids after becoming sick of cooking for them in lockdown.
Plus a mum was slammed for sharing photo of ‘extremely dangerous’ lunchbox she packed for her two-year-old.
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