Children’s health and nutrition has been at the forefront of parents’ minds everywhere in recent years with the war on obesity. However, when faced with the daily task of preparing a lunchbox, a daunting task, it’s easy to let convenience take the place of a well thought out meal. With that in mind, here are a few changes that can be made to any lunchbox to make it healthier for growing minds, and that parents can enjoy too!
Making Sandwiches Healthier
Deli meat is a lunchbox staple, but all deli meats are definitely not created equal. For one thing, sandwich meat tends to feature a lot of sodium, particularly the ones that have been pre-flavored. When buying direct from the counter, look for brands that advertise themselves as low sodium. Keep in mind that you can add flavoring and sauces later on, giving you better control on exactly how much sodium is going in that sandwich.
Keeping lunches filling but healthy is important for children at school. After all, even the best of foodie intentions can go awry when a child is hungry and has the opportunity to trade for a candy bar. While carbs may be a dirty word in meals these days, complex carbohydrates go a long way towards keeping a stomach full and happy well into the last part of the day. Your typical supermarket brown bread is a good start, but avoid the loaves that are too finely milled as it results in less nutritional benefit. Grainy bread does the best job of balancing nutrition with fullness.
Vegetables are also great for keeping kids full on a lower number of calories, given the amount of fibre they have in them. Baby carrots and celery sticks are easy to pack, and celery sticks can be served with a bit of peanut butter for extra protein.
Reading food labels and being aware of healthier alternatives is definitely the first step to healthy lunches. It’s especially important because sometimes foods commonly considered healthy can actually be deceptive. Fruit juices, for instance, are great when they feature fruit pulp and don’t have added sugar. Drain it down to the liquid part of the juice and put in a few tablespoons of sugar, though, and you end up with a drink that’s more comparable to a bottle of cola. Likewise, rice is often thought of as healthy, but white rice is similar to eating a large amount of white bread, with a massive amount of natural sugar to boot. Pasta is actually lower in calories, while whole grain rice or pasta is the best choice of all.
Of course, as with everything, some children demand a slightly different approach when it comes to getting them to actually eat healthy choices. Picky children can learn to love healthy varieties of foods too with a slow dinnertime introduction to concepts such as grainy bread.
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