With summer winding down and thoughts turning to “Back to School”, we thought it might be important to highlight the importance of healthy breakfasts and packed lunches for school going children, in particular younger children attending primary school.
We cannot stress enough how important good, healthy nutrition is for growing children. Most children are in school for up to 6 hours. These 6 hours are filled to the brim with mental and physical activities! While most children will nag their mothers to include junk food in their lunchbox and to have some sort of sweet cereal for breakfast, it is vital not to give in. We are not doing our kids any favours. For one, they will probably be hungry again half an hour after consuming these empty calories. They will more than likely not concentrate or perform to their potential. In addition, by allowing them to eat nothing but junk food for most of the day, we are simply teaching them the wrong lesson. These children are far more likely to struggle with obesity in later life and that’s something no parent wants for their child.
Breakfast in a household with children rushing to school can be a stressful time. Sometimes, it may feel easier to give in and give the children what they will eat quickly. There are however “quick” tasty, healthy breakfast ideas to be found. Scrambled or boiled eggs or maybe porridge with a spoon of honey, with a piece of fruit are ideal. Nutritious, tasty and quick!! For those who find themselves seriously short of time could blend some fruit and yogurt or juice in a blender, pop it in a flask which can be consumed in the car!
Now for the lunchbox! A lot of schools nowadays have banned shellfish, eggs and nuts because of the high risk of allergic reactions. Thankfully, some schools have also banned crisps and other things which are too messy for the classroom. Sandwiches are still the most popular choice for midday meal. Try to use wholegrain bread. Whatever you put in the sandwich try to include some protein, and maybe try to slip some salad in there too!
What else should you include? A piece of fruit, low-fat yogurt, a portion of dried fruit, such as raisins, a fruit salad or even some carrot sticks with a portion of houmous. It’s a good idea to include a portion of cheese, calcium is vital for growing children! A small chocolate bar as a treat once a week (try Fridays!) would do no harm. Some schools provide a daily drink of milk, but try to include a small bottle of water in their lunchbox too.
The possibilities are endless – all it takes is a little bit of thought and preparation and our children will benefit by having a more productive day at school and learning life long lessons of how to eat well. It’s the best lesson we can teach a child at possibly the most important period in their lives.