As a current Year 1 Teacher and Nutritionist, I see first hand the impact of school lunch boxes on the learning and development of children. I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to pack a healthy lunch. A healthy lunch box will have huge implications in the positive development of your child’s emotional, social and intellectual wellbeing!
The standard Aussie lunch box contains…
- 1 chocolate bar/roll up
- 1 packet of chips
- 1 sandwich: white bread with vegemite/plain spread
- 1 piece of fruit
- 1 popper
What is wrong with this?
- Low in protein
- Low in vegetables
- Low in vitamins & minerals
- Very high in added sugar!
The standard lunch box leads to…
- Weight gain
- Reduced concentration
- Anxiety / depression
- Impaired learning and memory
- Peaks and drops in blood sugar leading to irritability, mood swings, brain fog, fatigue, anxiety and depression.
- High blood sugar is linked to inflammation in the brain.
- A 2012 fructose study on rats concluded that a diet high in fructose (another word for sugar) hindered learning and memory by literally slowing down the brain. The rats who over-consumed sugar had damaged synaptic activity – communication between their brain cells was impaired.
What constitutes a healthy lunch box?
The Healthy Kids Association of Australia (HKA) has a great guide to packing a healthy lunch box. It recommends sticking to the “Core 4+1”.
- Main lunch item
- Nutritious snack
- A piece of seasonal fruit
- Drink – always include a water bottle
- Optional – add an extra snack for active and fast growing kids!
The healthy school lunch box – The ESSENTIALS!
The items below are what I see missing from most lunch boxes and are absolute necessities!
Protein – beef, lamb, fish, chicken, eggs, legumes, yoghurt
Vegetables – 2 or more servings per day: e.g. salad in a wholemeal wrap or pita, chopped veggie sticks with a dip
Fruit – 1 – 2 pieces per day
Water – The ONLY drink kids need at school!
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