A HEALTHY lunchbox is essential for not only your child’s growth but also in order to keep them adequately fuelled for the long school day.
Whether starting school for the first time, progressing from primary to secondary school or returning to a familiar routine – this transition is a busy time for kids, teens and parents alike.
Back to school marks a fresh beginning for the next nine months of your family’s year, so take this time as an opportunity to encourage healthy lifestyle routines and habits from the get-go.
HERE’S some tips from Ireland’s top food experts, Paula Mee and Caroline Gunn on what to include in you child’s daily lunch box.
According to our experts, a packed school lunch should contain all of the major food groups: carbohydrate, protein, dairy, veg and fruit.
- 1 portion of starchy carbohydrate (e.g. wholegrain bread, pittas or wraps, brown rice/pasta)
- 1 portion of protein food (e.g. chicken, fish, egg, pulses)
- 1 portion of dairy [e.g. yogurt (125g), cheese (25g) or milk (200mls)]
- 1(+) portion of vegetables (e.g. carrot sticks, peppers, sweetcorn, lettuce, onion)
- 1(+) portion of fruit (e.g. apple, orange, banana, pear, kiwi)
- A drink of water and/or milk
Independent Dietitian, Assistant Lecturer and Author, Paula Mee said: “It’s worth investing in a lunchbox that has multiple layers or compartments.
“They are widely available, tend to be very durable and really encourage you to prepare a varied lunch that is both delicious and appealing to the eye.
“You could include a sandwich in the bottom layer and fill the top layer with a selection of delicious eats such as cheese cubes, grapes, mandarin pieces, raspberries, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, cucumber slices, sugar snap peas, pepper slices, carrot batons or yogurt/smoothie tube.”
Here are some healthy but tasty lunchbox ideas:
- Tuna and sweetcorn mix
- Chicken, mixed salad and tomato relish
- Turkey, grated cheddar cheese and tomato
- Salmon, cream cheese and spinach leaves
- Pesto pasta salad with chicken and peppers
- Mild spiced couscous with roasted vegetables and chickpeas
- Brown rice salad with mixed diced vegetables and sliced hardboiled egg
- Homemade soup and brown bread
- Carrot and red pepper sticks with hummus
- Cubed cheddar cheese with grapes
- Fruit salad with yogurt and seeds
- Fresh fruit smoothie made with milk or yogurt
GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT
According to the Department of Health’s Healthy Eating Guidelines, it is recommended that a child gets three servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group each day as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Between the ages of 9-18, five servings per day are recommended due to the increased calcium requirements at this life stage.
Examples of one serving include a 200ml glass of milk, 125g pot of yogurt and 25g of hard cheese e.g. cheddar cheese.
Nutritionist with the National Dairy Council, Caroline Gunn says: “Milk is one of the best dietary sources of calcium, a nutrient that is well recognised for its important role in normal bone growth and development.
“Childhood and the adolescent years are particularly important for forming healthy bones.
“In addition, people often forget that there is more to milk and dairy than calcium, with one glass of milk also providing us with protein, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, vitamin B2 and vitamin B12 – each playing a variety of important roles for our health.
“For example, iodine contributes to normal cognitive function; vitamin B2 assists with the reduction of tiredness and fatigue; while vitamin B12 plays a role in immune function.”
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The National Dairy Council is now taking registrations for the School Milk Scheme for the 2019/2020 school year – only children registered in participating schools can avail of this fantastic service.
If you would like your child’s school to avail of School Milk please contact the National Dairy Council on 01 290 2451 or email email@example.com.
For more information you can checkout the Moo Crew School Milk Scheme website here.