One of the most challenging things when packing a lunchbox is balancing what is healthy and practical, and what kids will actually eat.
OnePointHealth nutritionist Rachel Fox says it’s important to pay attention to what we’re feeding our kids as school goes back next week.
“Parents get caught up in this ubiquitous notion that kids can have whatever at a growing age,” she said.
“But that is not true, what you put into their body now will develop their bodies and minds.”
The first question Ms Fox asks parents is “what is healthy eating for your child”.
“Children can’t express what is or isn’t working for them. Parents need to be mindful of signs of constipation, diarrhoea, if they are disengaged with other kids or less active than usual,” she said.
“If this is the case, then what they are probably eating is not working for them at that time.”
For Ms Fox, her daughter can’t eat strawberries without suffering side effects, proving that even though it might be healthy food, it’s not always the best for your child.
It’s also important to limit the sugar kids consume, and know what to look for when looking at ingredient lists.
“It’s hiding in too many foods, especially processed foods,” she said.
“If you look at a label and you can hardly pronounce it, let alone know what is in it, stay away from those foods.”
Foods high in fibre are great to support growing bodies, especially as kids at school are using more energy to focus and learn on top of regular physical activity.
Things like fruit, carrot and cucumber sticks, and tuna and salad wraps are all quick to make and will help support a child’s development while fostering healthy eating habits.
“It becomes lifestyle eating, it sustains them, when they come home they’re not going to rummage through the cupboard,” Ms Fox explains.
In turn, this saves time, money and will help prevent fussy eating.
But while Ms Fox admits the latter can be the most difficult to overcome, her solution involves giving children the power.
“From two options you’ve chosen, let them choose which one they want,” she said.
Her final tip is to make sure kids keep hydrated and avoid drinking too much sugary fruit juices.
Emily Newton is the Weekender’s police and political reporter. Emily is also the Weekender’s Senior Journalist.