Studies show that nutritional status can directly affect how well children do at school. Things like iron deficiency impact cognition and being low in other vitamins and minerals such as thiamine, vitamin E, vitamin B, iodine, and zinc, are shown to affect concentration.
Flannerys Organic & Wholefood Market food scientist Josh Gaudry shares some healthy lunchbox ideas that children will surely love.
• Salad jars are the latest craze: Start by adding dressing, pesto and hummus to the jar. Add all non-absorbent thick and hard veggies, such as cucumber, tomato and cabbage, followed by vegetables such as beans and peas; add on a level of protein like eggs or fetta; throw on substantial items such as rice, pasta or quinoa and then finish it by adding fresh leafy vegetables, nuts or seeds. These can be prepared ahead of time and stay fresh.
• Spelt bread and ancient grains: Ancient grains include spelt, farro, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and wild rice. They are grain alternatives for those eating wheat or gluten-free and offer serious nutritional benefits. Spelt is particularly popular with children because it tastes just like regular sliced bread.
• Preservative-free processed meat: If forgoing the ham or salami sandwich isn’t an option – try a natural, preservative-free processed deli meat like Lewis & Son. It’s free from gluten, with no artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, fillers, phosphates – or any other nasties – and containing no onion, their salami is also certified FODMAP Friendly.
• Seaweed Snacks: Did you know that seaweed is actually a vegetable? Crunchy with a delicious savoury flavour, seaweed is loaded with vitamin K, fibre and iodine to help regulate metabolism. Kids love it.
Preparation is the key, says Mr Gaudry. “Take some time off on Sunday to prepare all products (cut meat, veggies, meat, bake things such as muffins/frittata/cookies and store them in airtight containers.”
“It also helps to involve the kids in choosing and preparing the lunchbox items and toppings for the next day,” he said.
“The foods we send to school with our children can contribute up to one third of their daily intake of nutrients,” said Mr Gaudry.
“A good rule of thumb when packing school lunch is to go for a core snack, a seasonal piece of fruit, and an extra snack if the child is active. When possible, opt for wholegrain and keep salty or sweet foods out of the lunch box unless it’s as an occasional ‘treat’,” said Mr Gaudry.
“They also need to drink plenty of water, so make sure they have a water bottle with them.”
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