Having the correct nutritional balance for your child can have a significant impact on their education. By making packed lunches for your children you can be sure they are consuming a well-rounded, nutritional meal that keeps them healthy. Although figuring out what to put in their lunch boxes can sometimes be overwhelming, there are many ways to ensure your child is eating healthily and enjoy their food, too.
Firstly, it is crucial that there is variety in their meals – different foods have different vitamins and minerals. The ‘5 a day’ was introduced to help people get enough vitamins and minerals into their body and gain the benefits in doing so. The beauty of fruit and vegetables are that they are colourful and children will respond better to foods that are bright. You can teach them that the colour is also a good way of knowing which benefits you can get from each item. For example, orange coloured vegetables, such as, pumpkin, sweet potato, red pepper and carrots are high in beta-carotene which is essential for your eyesight.
The term ‘Brain Food’ is exactly that. Anything from the concentration of your child, to their fatigue level can be affected by the food you give them. For example, blueberries help improve their memory, tomato antioxidants protect brain cells, broccoli contains high levels of vitamin K which helps mental thinking, while beetroot boots brain power by increasing blood flow to the brain and sweet potatoes contain vitamin B-6, carbohydrates and antioxidants that are crucial for the brain to function healthily.
One thing to be aware of is that some fruits and vegetables are better eaten raw, while others are best eaten cooked to get the most nutrients from them. For example, Beetroot, broccoli, onions and red/green peppers are best eaten raw, whereas, asparagus, mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes are best eaten cooked.
It is important to remember to balance your child’s diet with carbohydrates in order for them to have energy. There are some healthy carbohydrates that give plenty of energy. Breakfast cereals that contain whole grains are a great start to the day for children – as long as they don’t have a lot of refined sugars – along with brown rice, sweet/jacket potatoes, whole grain pasta, beans, and whole oats.
A popular way to get children to eat their 5 a day is by making it exciting for them. Try creating a wall chart where they can tick off each portion they have had that day, and at the end of the week there is a reward when they have managed 5 a day, every day.
Some ideas to try…
- Start every day with a glass of fresh fruit/vegetable juice
- Fruit smoothies make great snacks – blend fruits with frozen berries and apple juice
- Sprinkle raisins or chopped banana (or both!) on your breakfast cereal
- Mix tinned sweetcorn into your tuna for sandwiches or in with a pasta
- Vegetable soup with added lentils or beans
- Try baked sweet potato wedges or jacket potatoes rather than white potato
- Give them raisins, dried apricots and banana chips as an afternoon snack
- Chopped raw vegetables (celery/carrot/cherries) with a dip, such as, hummus or with guacamole
- Serve your pasta with a vegetable based sauce, such as, ratatouille, tomato, onion or garlic and herb sauce
- Add a tin of tomatoes to your spaghetti bolognaise
- Instead of mash potato, try cauliflower/parsnip mash
- Try getting them to snack on fruit
- Have fruit based desserts –such as strawberries and cream, rhubarb crumble, baked apple and raisons, fruit salad and yogurt
- Baked beans are often popular with children
- Remove the hard core and stalks from cauliflower and mix in a blender to create cauliflower rice
We have our own Nutritional Therapist, Sarah Garton, who is happy to help with any queries you may have. Call us on 01282 453 110 to book in with a specialist.