Thursday, 04 October 2012 08:45

Good nutrition essential to school success

Written by Bioharmony
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Most moms are familiar with that sinking feeling when you open your child’s lunchbox at the end of the day, only to discover your kids hardly touched the lunch you made. So how do you avoid this? An easy solution: Offer them a little of everything, also known as a “Bento Box Lunch”.

By offering your child a variety of smaller snacks in a lunchbox, you’re sure they will at least get some nutrition throughout the day. The key is to try have at least one item from each food group: healthy carbohydrates, proteins, dairy, fruits and/or vegetables.

Healthy carbohydrates are essential for helping your child maintain energy levels throughout the day; protein helps build muscles and slows digestion; dairy is important for building strong bones and fruits and vegetables provide the fiber and roughage (as well as a wide range of vitamins and minerals). Think of your kids’ lunch break at school as a pit stop, a time to stop and refuel. By offering this wide selection of foods, you can ensure your child has the energy to get through the rest of the day and even concentrate better in class.

Below are a few ideas for each snack group:

Carbohydrates

  • Multigrain rice cakes
  • Low GI brown sandwiches with sandwich spread, peanut butter, cheese spread, jam, etc. For younger kids, half a sandwich will be sufficient since they’ll have other foods to snack on. Get creative and cut the sandwiches into little shapes or letters for children who are just learning how to read
  • Provita biscuits or other wholewheat biscuits, plain or with a spread
  • Pasta salad

Proteins

  • Nuts
  • Biltong
  • Chicken viennas
  • Slices of cold meat (avoid too much processed foods)
  • Chicken nuggets
  • Mini chicken legs and wings
  • Meat balls
  • Make mini kebabs with a toothpick: Alternate a piece of cheese, ham, cherry tomato


Fruits and Vegetables

  • Cut apples into small pieces (to keep apples from turning brown, soak them in salted water for a minute or so before packing them)
  • Mini finger salad with green peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes
  • Pickles
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries cut into pieces sprinkled with half a teaspoon of sugar
  • Small bananas
  • Celery sticks (try putting peanut butter in the celery sticks – this makes a great treat)
  • Carrot sticks
  • Dried fruits


Dairy

  • Yoghurt
  • Drinking yoghurt
  • A variety of cheeses, cut into cubes
  • Milkshake boxes

Add a sweet or a biscuit in the lunch box occasionally, but not too often. Just think about how often your kids have sweets outside of school, they don’t really need sweets at school too.

Buy a variety of smaller plastic containers to pack the foods separately, or to include dips and sauces in the lunch. Make use of small plastic bags too.

As kids get older, try to include them as much as possible. Print out the list above and put it somewhere visible in your kitchen. Let them choose something from each food group. Kids who pack their own lunches are more likely to add their lunches.

Pack a little love

Sometimes school can be a tough place – the work can be exhausting and dealing with all the social dynamics can be equally exhausting. Surprise your child by packing a little note or a little picture to make them smile, to encourage them or to simply remind them how much they’re loved.

Last modified on Friday, 05 October 2012 11:07
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