Nutrition 101: Back To School

It’s that time of year again! Stationary supplies, new pencil cases, new lunch boxes and the annual lunchbox dilemmas.. Ask yourself, what new and interesting foods can I fill my child’s lunch box with?!

Considering what nutrition your child needs is incredibly important to ensure optimal growth, energy levels and alertness in the classroom and with each passing year, your child’s nutritional requirements may alter and increase.

Below is a table from the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating Website: www.eatforhealth.gov.au depicting recommended serving sizes for your child’s age and gender for each food group. This can be a great resource to have on your fridge!

  1. Vegetable and salad

As you can see above, the serving sizes for your vegetable and salad group is quit diverse and it can be rather hard to get a fantastic mix of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in by having them only on the dinner plate! Including some types of salad or vegetables in a sandwich or a wrap for your children’s lunchbox can be a great way to increase intake, while using cut up raw vegetables (carrots or celery) as a snack idea. Keep it interesting by cutting vegetables into different shapes!

  1. Fruit

Fruits can prove to be such an easy and convenient way to pack those essential nutrients into a lunch box. Unfortunately, pre-packages food items which can be high in refined sugars have replaced so many natural products, and not enough children are consuming their recommended servings of fruit! Fruit provides us with dietary fibre to keep our bowels working well, not to mention the added vitamins and minerals! Using a variety of different fruits in the lunch box and keeping it seasonal can reduce the hip pocket stress and keep your child interested. 

  1. Grains and cereals

Soggy uneaten sandwiches? Consider what type of bread you are using. Plain, white bread goes soggy more quickly and are therefore may not be appealing. Using wraps, flat breads, grainy bread rolls, multigrain crackers and high fibre loaves tend to hold their integrity better. Again, variety is key to holding interest!

Tip: If including tomato’s in your sandwich/wrap use a paper towel to soak excess juice beforehand.

  1. Protein and Dairy

Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks to muscle growth and repair of cells. They are also a good source of calcium, iron and magnesium. Protein options to include in your lunch box may include; eggs, cheese, yoghurt, tuna, chicken, lean ham and salmon.

Tip: To keep the lunch box cool, pack a frozen water bottle into the bottom of your lunchbox or check out cooler-type lunch boxes that stay cooler for longer.

  1. Snacks

Aim to provide a maximum of 1 packaged muesli or snack bar in their lunchbox each day to avoid excess energy and sugar intake. These also allows your child to fill up on the good stuff rather than high processed, low nutrition foods. Try to choose wholegrain and dairy based snacks.

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