It’s important that schoolchildren have healthy, balanced diets to support their growth and development, and prevent illnesses and weight problems. They need fuel for energy because they spend lots of it in learning and being physically active. School lunch is fuel for your child, and you have control over whether it’s healthy fuel or unhealthy fuel.
Here are some tips for preparing school lunches:
• Include all five food groups, especially fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy products and grains. Try to choose a healthy option from each group. School lunch boxes should include a snack, lunch and drinks. Also, ensure your children have a healthy breakfast before leaving home or on their way to school.
•Prepare your children’s lunch boxes with love. Try to make them healthy, yet tasty and enjoyable. Get creative by changing the meals every day and making attractive food items so your child won’t get bored. Examples could be a smiley-face pizza or rice and veggies in mini balls.
• Preparing lunch the night before saves time and effort in the morning. It also allows you to be more creative. Always store the food overnight in the fridge.
• Pack food items separately, in small containers, sandwich bags or cling wrap. Ensure that containers are closed to avoid leakage, but avoid closing before hot food has cooled down.
• Allow your children to help with lunch preparation. It will get them excited and encourage them to eat healthy food. Ask them to choose food items they would like to eat, because if they don’t eat it at home, they won’t eat it at school.
• On hot days, freeze milk or yogurt the night before so it will stay cold in the lunch box for longer. Don’t forget to add an ice pack to help keep food cold.
There are some things that should be avoided, too:
• Avoid unhealthy snacks that are high in sugar, fat or sodium, such as chocolates, potato chips and soda drinks.
• Avoid soups. Although these can be healthy, they are usually messy to eat or spill on other food items in the lunch box. It’s also hard to keep soup hot until lunch break.
• Avoid salads. Generally children find it hard to eat salads at school, but they usually love veggie slices and sticks, which can be eaten easily.
Mashael Al Ameri is an Emirati nutritionist.
Source: art & life