The Ideal Lunchbox
It’s a well known fact that children in preschool and school get sick quite often and may tend to have a high absence rate. Lack of proper nutrition is the main reason, and this will eventually affect a child’s performance at school.
If your child is skipping a meal or two everyday, then he’s at risk. Skipping meals includes:
- Not having a proper breakfast or skipping this meal entirely.
- Skipping lunch at school, such as in cases of ‘untouched lunchboxes.’
- Having unhealthy meals at school (which means your child has “skipped” a healthy meal).
If your child is skipping meals, then he is probably hungry during his school day and a hungry child is mentally absent even if he’s physically present.
Children who don’t have a proper breakfast and lunch will most likely become dependent on food served at school, which often consists of pizza, fries, pastas with cheese, cakes, pre packed juices, soda beverages, etc. Although an occasional indulgence in these is not harmful, if consumed daily, a child will become passive, unable to concentrate in class, and may have a poor attention span. This is due to fluctuations in his blood sugar levels as discussed earlier.
As a parent, you should be aware of the types of food offered at school and help your child make healthy choices if he will occasionally be buying food from school, however the healthiest choice is to provide your child with a packed lunch.
What does the ideal lunchbox include?
It should meet one third of your child’s daily nutritional needs and include proteins, healthy carbs, veggies, and fruit. This is what an ideal lunchbox for older kids with a full day at school should look like.
Practically speaking, this is one example of what you could include: brown bread with veggies and hummus spread, grapes, mango slices, yogurt, and a muffin as “other.” This kind of lunch box will satisfy your child’s hunger pangs, meet his increased nutritional needs, and improve his learning in class.
For younger kids or preschoolers, offer a miniature version of the above: sandwich, a healthy drink, fruit, and a muffin.
Mix and match the suggestions in the following table for healthy and creative options! Also, involve your child in this game of mix and match. If the food is appealing and interesting, expect to find an empty lunchbox when your child gets home!
Make sure to give your child an appropriate serving. Finally, do not forget to add a little note in the lunch box like “I love you” to add that personal loving touch!
Vandana Chawla is a nutrition educator and consultant with over 20 years of work experience in the field of nutrition. She is a certified LEAN coach (USA) & registered nutrionist (UK).