Getting Back to Basics: The Lunch Box Debate

Liz Dawson: Exercise Physiologist, Pilates Instructor, Mummy

The old term ‘you are what you eat’ is kind of hard to ignore when it holds so much truth. From the moment our children are born we strive to do what’s best for them nutritionally starting with breast milk or good quality formula that builds their immune system and gets them ready for ‘solid food’. (I always find the term ‘solids’ hilarious because of how ridiculously un-solid baby’s first food is).

But somewhere in the busyness of domestic life and as children graduate from their nappy clad days, parents lose some control of what their kids eat and the temptation of convenience sometimes leads us, to offer them food that isn’t as nutritious as it claims ‘delicious’.

With constantly changing information about what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ food, coupled with all the rise of food allergies and intolerances, parents can feel overwhelmed, confused and down-right annoyed when it comes to filling their children’s lunch boxes.

One helpful way to get nutrition back on track, is to clear the slate and start again, getting back to basics by referring to the good old food pyramid. Nutrition Australia advises:

  1. Plenty of vegetables, legumes and fruits

  2. Plenty of cereals (preferably wholegrain), including bread, rice, pasta, and noodles

  3. Lean meat, fish, poultry and/or alternatives

  4. Include milk, yogurt and cheese (reduced-fat varieties are not suitable for children under 2 years) into your weekly diet.

In the chaos of family life, it’s easy to get caught up in just filling lunch boxes and making quick meals to nip ‘whine o’clock’ in the bud, but the long-term effects are a cause for concern with conditions like diabetes and childhood obesity on the rise. In addition to all the birthday parties and the blessed grandparents who just love to offer up a sweetie, the weekly sugar intake can get out of control without even realising it. This is not to say party invites should be declined and the lolly aisle avoided like the black plague but like all things in life, moderation is the key.

Children’s brains are still growing and developing and fuelling them with the right food is integral to healthy growth. The right balance of food will also have noticeable immediate effects on kid’s energy levels, motivation to exercise, as well as ability to concentrate in class. You will notice yourself if you have too much processed food, your energy levels slump and your motivation for that spin class you planned on taking, looks all the less enticing by the end of the day. Kids are much the same.

Another easy way to ensure your kids fruit and veg intake is to the right ratio (because fruit is also counted as sugar) is to apply the 2 fruits 5 veggies daily rule. It’s easy to keep track of 2&5 and by getting the kids involved, you are offering some control over what they eat while educating them on the importance of a balanced diet.  For some great lunchbox ideas  and inspiration head to : http://healthy-kids.com.au/10-great-lunch-box-ideas/