Lunchbox-ideas for the whole family.
The internationally acclaimed chef, writer and restauranteur, Jamie Oliver, set out on a mission a few years back to transform the food served at schools all over the UK. In 2005, the School Food Trust was born, with its motto, “Eat better. Do better.” It paid off!
In South Africa, as in the UK and the USA, obesity amongst young children is getting worse. The increase of children and young adults developing Type 2 diabetes, is both alarming and shocking. Parents and teachers alike, must set an example and teach the children that healthy food is not only better, but it has a huge impact on our mood, behaviour, health, growth, and ability to concentrate. The last thing a growing child needs is to be eating junk food and processed meals almost every day; not to mention adding soft drinks to it! Did you know that, if a child starts to drink soda at an early age while they are still growing, it not only affects their weight, mood or behaviour, but it also affects their teeth (especially if they are under the age of 12).
Joy Bauer, MS, RD, CDN and best-selling author of Joy Bauer’s Food Cures: Treat Common Health Concerns, Look Younger and Live Longer, agrees with Jamie. “Without a doubt, balanced nutrition is key for kids to maintain concentration academically. Every school lunch should offer both complex carbohydrates and lean proteins – a turkey-breast sandwich on whole wheat bread is a simple and perfect example of this. It will boost your brain– and staying power, level your moods and keep your blood sugars on an even keel. In other words, a plain bagel or slices of white bread, with nothing else (but butter and jam, for example), can produce volatile spikes in blood sugars and can set up kids for a crash.”
A healthy sandwich with low-fat mayo is just a start, says Bauer. “Fibre in produce is also extremely important because it slows the absorption of carbohydrates into the system, which also keeps blood sugars level. There should be at least one fruit or vegetable in every school lunch or lunchbox, and preferably both.”
Here are some ideas for packing lunchboxes for the whole family:
Monday: Canned salmon or tuna, mixed with low-fat mayo, with whole-grain bread or crackers;
Tuesday: Cold whole-grain / durum wheat semolina pasta salad with roasted or grilled veggies and/or cold chicken / turkey;
Wednesday: Sandwich with cheese, lettuce, cucumber and tomato. Add some nuts on the side, for added protein and fibre;
Thursday: Grilled or roasted chicken breast tenders, sliced red peppers, and low-fat cheese on whole-grain pita (try spinach pita as a kid-friendly alternative);
Friday: Cold boiled eggs (if someone doesn’t like eggs, replace them with cheese or cold meat, e.g. mini sosaties or mini frikadelles), salad and crackers.
Add some fruit / berries and yoghurt daily to the above ideas. Also remember to make sure there is a bottle of water to drink as well.
Unless someone is allergic or intolerant to one of the above-mentioned foods, the key is balance. Make sure there is carbs, protein, fruit and/or vegetables, in the lunch. During our summer months it can get very hot and/or humid. I would suggest staying clear of chicken and fish when it is so hot and rather opt for other cold meats and plain cheese (gouda or cheddar instead of spreads). Dried fruit like raisins, are high in iron, and is also a nice snack (with or without nuts). Just be careful about nuts when it is very hot.
By: Ezette Viljoen (Health & Fitness Editor)