School Lunches for a Healthy Mind
The holidays are over and its time to head back to school. This can be an exciting time for many children as they look forward to seeing their friends again and sharing all their holiday tales. This can also be a time of anxiety for many parents at the thought of having to fill the dreaded school lunch box each day. To help you out I have compiled a list of various nutritious snack options to include in the school lunch box.
Fuel for physical growth and development and learning
Good nutrition is very important to school age children as this is a time of physical growth and development as well as a time of immense learning. The school lunchbox is an excellent opportunity to provide your kids with nutritious lunch and snack items to help fuel their day.
Remember to try and keep the lunchbox simple. Don’t surprise your kids with food items that are new to them- try out any new snacks, salads or sandwich combinations with them at home first, this will increase the likelihood the food will be eaten and not simply brought home untouched.
Kids are also more likely to eat food if they are involved in the preparation of it. It can be as simple as giving them a choice between two sandwich fillings or having them help you out in the morning by choosing some vegetables to be cut into sticks or choosing which dip they would like to take with them. If your kids love to bake why not get them involved in baking some wholegrain fruit muffins or mini vegetable quiches on the weekend to freeze and have through the week?
Suitable school box snack options:
- Wholegrain biscuits/crackers with guacamole dip (mashed avocado mixed with diced tomato and red onion with a dash of lemon/lime juice). Wholegrain biscuits provide an excellent source of slow burning carbohydrates to help fuel kids learning and activity through the day.
- Air-popped popcorn
- Vegetables sticks (think capsicum, carrot, celery, snow peas, beans, cucumber) with hummus dip (either homemade or store bought) or mashed avocado/guacamole.
- Fruit kebabs- this is such a fun way to include fruit into the lunchbox. Get your children involved by letting them choose the fruit they would like on the kebab, you can also get them to help thread the fruit pieces onto the stick. Use cookie cutters to cut the fruit into fun shapes to make it even more interesting and exciting. Cover in a little lemon juice and store in a zip lock bag (with the air squeezed out) to prevent the fruit going brown.
- Natural or Greek yogurt with assorted berries/fruit pieces and nuts/seeds (check your schools policy on nuts). Cinnamon and vanilla bean paste are other yum flavour variations to add to the yoghurt. Kids have high requirements for calcium and many don’t meet their daily requirements. Dairy foods are excellent source of calcium (and also a very good source of protein) making them terrific foods to include in a daily lunchbox.
- Fill a small container with cut up apple or pear with a few slices of cheddar cheese or babybel cheese. Cutting the fruit into bite sized pieces (which is easy for kids to handle) increases the likelihood the fruit will get eaten at school and not bought home. You could also fill a small container with berries, cherry tomatoes, mandarin wedges, grapes, nuts or seeds.
- Petite sized homemade fruit or savoury muffin. With this option try to use a wholegrain flour and include either fresh fruit or vegetables in the mix.
These are just a few ideas to give you some inspiration going into the school term. A lot of kids like variety with their foods so try to include different options each day with lots of different coloured fruit and vegetables (remember lots of different coloured vegetables=lots of different nutrients). Also include a frozen water bottle (with BPA free plastic) or ice brick to keep the lunchbox cool throughout the day.
As going back to school can be a stressful time, don’t hesitate to seek professional support for you or your child with anxiety counselling. We offer remote telehealth consultation or if you are in Cleveland or Loganholme book an in-person appointment with our psychologists