January 29, 2014
Just as we slip comfortably into extended sleep-ins and late balmy evenings, the summer school holidays are slowly coming to an end. Long languid days where routines are thrown out the window are over. The daily ritual of school lunch boxes waiting to be filled are back, where as parents we try to come up with interesting options, only to be disheartened when the lunch boxes return home at the end of the day largely untouched.
And despite our good intentions, what often ends up happening is we decide to choose less healthy but more popular options. But the evidence indicates that children who eat well during the school day are more likely to concentrate and generally perform better at school. Children eat around a third of their daily food intake at school so filling a lunch box with foods from each food group is an easy way to ensure kids get all the nutrients they need.
Unfortunately, in the past few decades the proportion of overweight children has doubled and the rate of obesity in children has trebled. This has the potential to create major health problems for this generation when they reach adulthood, including increased risk of cancer and chronic illness.
So the start of the new school year is a great time to start afresh with healthy resolutions. And that’s where Cancer Council WA has come up with a list of quick and simple tips to help ensure children put their healthiest step forward this year.
Plenty of fruit and vegetables is the key. Carrot and celery sticks, snow peas, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, cheese cubes, frozen yoghurts and hard boiled eggs all make good healthy snacks. And if you have fussy eaters at home, cutting up fruit and veg into unusual shapes is one way to entice them.
It’s so easy to think we are doing the right thing. Did you know that some muesli bars, which are marketed as healthy options, can have as many calories as a similar sized chocolate bar! And you need to eat 5 snack bags of Tiny Teddy biscuits to get the same amount of fibre as a medium sized apple, and 6 snack bags to get the same fibre as your average pear!
So instead of packaged snacks, why not try making some fruit muffins, date or cheese scones, a date and walnut loaf, or a carrot and nut cake. You can make it on the weekend and have it frozen ready for the week ahead. You can also freeze yoghurt; just spoon some into small containers, put it in the freezer overnight and it’ll be ready to go. You could also try making your own popcorn, or cutting up some veggie sticks to have with low fat hommus, tatziki or tomato salsa dip.
And don’t underestimate the value of getting the kids involved in the shopping and preparation for the week. Try doing a special shop each week and allow the kids to choose (with some parental guidance and consultation with food labels) what they want for lunch. After that, you can get them to pack it themselves. And try changing one item very day just to keep it interesting!
Finally, remember you can lead by example and pack the same lunch box for yourself. And above all, keep it fun!
For more tips, go to www.crunchandsip.com.au