What do I pack in my child’s lunchbox


A new year, a new decade, a new beginning.  Nothing like making some resolutions now to start afresh and improve the quality of your family’s life.

The topic today is not a new one but it is important enough to keep repeating so that we all think carefully about what we feed our children on. This applies equally to schools because while some are meticulous about controlling what foods children are allowed to eat on school premises, others don’t give this any attention.  In fact, educating children about healthy eating sometimes helps their parents become aware of good nutrition too.

I was impressed once when I visited a family with young children. The mother insisted that the children helped pack their school lunchboxes. There was a list on the ‘fridge with items that should be included so the children knew what to pack even though they had a choice of items falling under the various categories. They could also vary the amount of food according to their appetites and how long they would be staying at school for the day.

The list looked something like this:

Foods to be packed every day:

  1. One piece of fresh fruit.
  2. Some crunchy or raw vegetables (e.g. carrots, cucumber, tomato, baby corn).
  3. A meat or protein food such as slices of lean meat (not processed meat), hardboiled egg, peanut butter or nut paste*, nuts.
  4. Dairy food such as a piece of cheese, grated cheese, milk or yoghurt.
  5. Starchy food such as whole wheat bread, a seed roll, pita or flat bread, fruit bread or crackers.

Of course, there are some foods that should not be found in lunchboxes.  Here’s a list of those.  My wise family mentioned above didn’t have this list displayed because that might have put thoughts into young heads!  It is, nevertheless, important to know the kinds of foods that might not be the best for a busy school day, where bodies and brains are needed to function well.

Here are some lunchbox snacks to avoid:

  • Packaged fruit juice and dried fruit. Dried fruit has simply too much sugar in it. Occasionally one or two pieces might be useful but handfuls are not recommended. 
  • Pre-packaged muesli bars and other ‘energy bars’ that haven’t been carefully vetted for sugar and salt content. 
  • Muffins (sugar laden!) and any other baked product that contains sugars, additives and colourants (cup cakes, etc).
  • Foods containing highly refined flours (white bread and rolls, cakes and cookies). 
  • Flavoured milk. 
  • Pre-packaged ‘snack packs’. 
  • Packaged dried fruit straps. 
  • Packaged chocolate spread. 
  • Processed meat.
  • Sweets (sugar does NOT give you more energy).

ILT practitioners are well aware of the significance of a good diet to helping overcome learning challenges.  We look for the root causes of learning difficulties and food is one area that we keep having to explore.



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