Help your kids choose healthy lunches

Itís important to teach kids to eat well from an early age to encourage their taste buds to lean towards healthier options - once they start to make their own choices.

A dilemma for many mothers is what to feed active kids and fussy eaters, without resorting to junk food options which can be high in fat and sodium and crammed full of preservatives.

Sydney Dietitian Geraldine Georgeou provides tips on how to rustle up a healthy, balanced lunch for kids.

Geraldine comments:

ďA variety of fresh foods is the key to keeping our kids looking forward to eating their lunch. Sandwiches are often perceived as boring and unless they are made fresh can be quite unappetitising by the time itís lunchtimeĒ.

Keeping an ice brick or frozen fruit drink in a childís lunch box is a good tactic to keep the lunch box at a cooler temperature to avoid the spread of bacteria and food spoilage

ďMums are often worried about what to put in our kidís lunch boxes, especially in the warmer months when keeping lunch boxes cool can be a real problem. A sandwich kept in the heat of a school bag could certainly set a child up for food poisoning.

ďThese are my tips for livening up your kidís lunchboxes and teaching them to enjoy healthier options:

  • Use high fibre breads such as wholegrain or oat bread. If your child dislikes grains choose high fibre white bread.
  • Use lean cooked meats in preference to sausage varieties such as devon or salami.
  • Fish on sandwiches may be smelly unless freshly made.
  • Avoid high fat condiments such as mayonnaise.
  • Avoid putting margarine or butter on sandwiches or simply spread it lightly.
  • Choose low saturated fat meats such as trimmed of fat ham, turkey, and lean roast beef.
  • Donít forget to add colourful foods to the lunch box. Fresh fruit and veggies should become an automatic addition.
  • Salad fillings or veggies on the side of a sandwich could include:
    o††† Veggies (wash and dry with paper towel)
    o††† Lettuce, shredded or whole, tomatoes or even cherry tomato, grated and cut up carrot, mushrooms, cucumber,††††††††††††††††††††† olives, capsicum and snow peas
    o††† Fruit: e.g. Apple, banana, fruit snack packs or even dried fruit such as sultanas and apricots.
  • Involve the kids in their sandwich preparation. Make up a platter of fillings, salad, veggies, lean protein, and a choice of bread and let them create their own sandwich in the morning before school.
  • Kids are at risk of iron deficiency so make sure you offer them a source of iron in their sandwiches such as lean roast beef.
  • Adding a vitamin C enriched food such as a small 100% fruit juice or fresh fruit will help iron absorption.
  • Ensuring a good source of protein is added to the ingredients of a sandwich is essential for sustained energy throughout the day. Fillings such as lean ham, tuna, turkey, roast beef, and/ or low fat cheese are a good example of these.
  • Avoid high fat, high sugar, high sodium snacks in your childís lunch box. Childhood obesity is on the rise in Australia and there is no reason why fresh, wholesome foods can not be tasty and acceptable choices by our kids today.Ē