Par­ents stress over lunch­box mess

The Riverine Herald - - NEWS - By David Rak

PAR­ENTS in our town are strug­gling with nu­tri­tional anx­i­ety when they pack their chil­dren’s lunch­box.

Find­ings from Capi­lano Honey’s Fam­ily Nutri­tion Re­port showed over a third of par­ents re­sorted to fol­low­ing their gut in­stinct when try­ing to nav­i­gate the mine­field of healthy eat­ing information.

Con­fus­ing di­etary information is to blame for a rise in nu­tri­tional anx­i­ety among par­ents, with more than one in ten ad­mit­ting they’re baf­fled by con­flict­ing rec­om­men­da­tions around what they should and shouldn’t be feed­ing their chil­dren.

The re­port also re­vealed busy life­styles were a key con­trib­u­tor to meal­time stress, with nearly 18 per cent say­ing they would like to feed their fam­ily health­ier meals but can’t due to lack of time.

Com­pound­ing this nu­tri­tional night­mare are fussy eaters, with half of par­ents con­tend­ing with a fusspot and 93 per cent ad­mit­ting to dish­ing out food that is not nutri­tion­ally ideal just so their chil­dren will eat.

Echuca Re­gional Health di­eti­tian Stephanie Greetham said she of­ten gets ques­tions from par­ents about what con­sti­tutes a healthy lunch­box.

“Not only do par­ents need to pro­vide their chil­dren with healthy food and snacks but they have the added pres­sure of en­sur­ing lunch­boxes are nut free and some­times pack­age free,” she said.

“Nav­i­gat­ing the su­per­mar­ket aisles can be quite dif­fi­cult with many prod­ucts mar­keted as healthy or low fat, but which are of­ten packed with sugar, ad­di­tives or sodium to im­prove taste, con­sis­tency and ex­tend their shelf life.

“The eas­i­est way to eat healthy is to pro­vide home-made treats with whole­some in­gre­di­ents.

“Buy­ing lots of foods with­out la­bels such as fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles, nuts and seeds and choos­ing pack­aged prod­ucts with a small in­gre­di­ent list is the best way to go.”

Fel­low di­eti­tian Jes­sica Roth­well said a busy life­style can con­trib­ute to poor eat­ing habits in both adults and chil­dren but it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Prepa­ra­tion is the key to en­sure you are pro­vid­ing the best foods for your fam­ily when time is limited,” she said.

“Plan your weekly meals ahead of time. Do one large su­per­mar­ket shop (and take a list) and where pos­si­ble, cook foods in bulk and freeze left over por­tions for those nights where you need a quick meal.

“Fresh fruit, nuts, nat­u­ral yoghurts and home-made muffins are easy and healthy snack op­tions.

“For­tu­nately, there are many school can­teens un­der­go­ing menu changes to cre­ate a health­ier food en­vi­ron­ment for stu­dents.”

Ms Greetham said man­ag­ing a fussy eater can be chal­leng­ing for par­ents and it can be tempt­ing to of­fer less healthy al­ter­na­tives, just so chil­dren eat some­thing.

“It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber, that un­less they’re ill, a young child will not vol­un­tar­ily starve them­selves,” she said.

“If your child seems healthy, en­er­getic and is grow­ing well, they are eat­ing enough. So, stay calm, get your chil­dren in­volved in all as­pects of food prepa­ra­tion and con­tinue to of­fer dif­fer­ent foods.

“And re­mem­ber it can take as many as 10 times for a child to ac­cept a new food.”

If in doubt speak to an Ac­cred­ited Prac­tis­ing Di­eti­tian or visit the Di­eti­tians As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia web­site for sug­ges­tions at

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