It’s that time of year again – they’re going back to school. Any mums and dads reading may well have stocked up on new pencil cases, school bags, gym kit and so on… but what about the day-to-day sustenance that keeps them fuelled up, concentrating and happy throughout those all-important school days? What you include in their lunchbox can have a direct effect on how they perform in the classroom, so it’s important to make sure they’re getting as healthy a lunch as possible.
OK, so kids aren’t exactly renowned for their ability to sit still and concentrate. This is why school can be a challenge for most little ones. Not to mention their teachers! We know know what an important role a nutritious lunch (and other meals of course) plays in terms of their ability to focus and learn. Making sure they have a selection of well-rounded sustenance every day is a great habit to get into for many reasons. Not only does a nutritious lunch give them the essentials they need to sharpen their focus, but it’ll also help instill this as a practice that they take into their adult life. Conversely a packed lunch full of junk foods and sugary snacks, no matter how much they’d enjoy that, can actually restrict the body’s intake of nutrients.
The importance of protein
A good rule of thumb is to try and make each packed lunch as balanced as possible, meaning that they include a variation of foods. High protein foods are a good one to prioritise because they’re a great source of slow-release energy, meaning hunger is satisfied for longer. Foods like chicken, eggs, nuts, beans, whole grains and dairy (think milk, yoghurt and cheese) are great for protein and helping wee ones work, rest and play.
Fruit and veg are obviously a big part of keeping anyone healthy. That goes for kids too, although they’re not always a popular choice! Cutting them up into fun shapes can make them more ‘appetising’, and adding a dip can make those lunch boxes even more likely to come home empty. Hummus for carrot sticks or peanut butter and apple are common ‘winners’. Packing water or milk instead of a sugary juice can help them stay on track in lessons too – we’ve written about the hydrating qualities of milk before here. While a sugary snack is fine once in a while, the general idea is to avoid that spike and inevitable crash of energy that generally follows eating chocolate, fizzy drinks, sweets, and so on.
What about you though? Have you got any healthy packed lunch hacks that go down a treat when the bell goes? Let us know on the usual social channels, we’d love to hear them!