Getting your kids ready to return to school for another year can be a busy time, but among the books, bags and pencil cases it’s vital that you don’t forget to consider lunchbox contents and sun protection.
To help, our Schools Nutrition Coordinator, Shannon Wright and SunSmart/Schools Program Coordinator, Sally Blane share their top tips for a healthy school year below:
1. Packaged snack foods are expensive and may be high in sugar, salt and fat – Instead, make your own snacks. Trail mix consisting of air popped popcorn is always a popular choice!
2. Plan ahead by preparing lunches the night before or while making dinner. This helps to avoid reaching for those unhealthy snacks when you’re in a rush to get out the door of a morning.
3. Freeze grapes, or cut fruit into unusual shapes to tempt fussy eaters. Encouraging kids to make good choices from a young age inspires ongoing healthy eating habits.
4. Vegie sticks such as carrots, celery, capsicum and cucumber are long-lasting in the lunch box and can be paired with cream cheese or healthy dips like hummus or tzatziki for a delicious healthy snack.
5. Pack a full water bottle and make sure kids drink plenty of it in the hot weather. A frozen water bottle or freezer block will help keep lunches cool.
6. Cook and freeze a batch of healthy muffins or savoury pikelets on the weekend and add one to your lunchbox each day.
7. Substitute white bread for wholemeal, grainy, rye bread or wraps or put some leftover dinner like pasta salad or home-made vegie rice in a container.
8. Ensure a hat that offers sun protection to their face, head, neck and ears, such as a bucket, broad-brimmed or legionnaires is part of your child’s school bag. Research shows that sun exposure during childhood contributes to a person’s risk of skin cancer later in life. It’s vital that kids a protected from the sun as they are at school during peak UV times.
9. Apply sunscreen to your child before they head off to school and make sure that they have access to some at break times.
10. Tell kids to find a shady spot at school while they eat lunch.
11. Remember to show your kids the UV index. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cool or hot day, it’s UV that does the damage – not the heat.