With school lunch box poli­cies get­ting stricter by the year, LATOYA NEW­MAN asked di­eti­tian and As­so­ci­a­tion for Di­etet­ics in South Africa spokesper­son Lucinda Lourens for some tips on a healthy yet kid-friendly lunch box

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE -

LUCINDA Lourens is a pri­vate prac­tis­ing di­eti­tian at Life Groen­kloof Hos­pi­tal in Pre­to­ria. She has a spe­cial in­ter­est in pae­di­atric nu­tri­tion and a pas­sion for in­fants and young chil­dren.

Work­ing at the Pre­to­ria Cen­tre for Cere­bral Palsy, sit­u­ated in the hos­pi­tal, also means she sees a range of chil­dren with spe­cial di­etary needs.

Lourens also works closely with crèches and nurs­eries de­vel­op­ing menus and pro­vid­ing nu­tri­tional in­for­ma­tion to them.

“My aim for 2017 is to start veg­etable and herb gar­dens at these fa­cil­i­ties in Pre­to­ria and get these lit­tle minds and fin­gers en­thu­si­as­tic about nu­tri­tion and health.” Lourens’s list of in­ter­est­ing sand­wich fillers that bal­ance healthy eat­ing and still man­age to at­tract the taste buds of chil­dren (who can be very fussy eaters) in­cludes: Thinly sliced left­over meat, chicken or turkey Tuna/chicken/egg and light may­on­naise Sugar-free peanut but­ter or nut but­ters Lean minced meat Liver/fish spread Cot­tage cheese Light hum­mus Avo­cado. Add-ons: Toma­toes, greens (baby spinach, let­tuce or cab­bage), cu­cum­ber, gherkins, low-fat cheese, lean soft bil­tong and lean ba­con.


Wa­ter (al­ways!) Home­made iced tea Low-fat un­flavoured, sugar-free milk Di­luted 100 per­cent fruit juice (¼ juice, ¾ wa­ter)


Pop­corn Fresh fruit Fish cakes Baby quiches Un­salted mixed nuts Roasted corn on the cob Low-fat yo­ghurt or cus­tard Lean meat and veg­etable balls Whole­grain home­made muffins Fruit and/or veg­etable smoothie Home­made ba­nana and nut bread Fruit salad with light cus­tard or low-fat yo­ghurt Mini-whole­grain pita or wrap with veg­etable and pro­tein (cheese, chicken or meat) fill­ing Lean bil­tong, ostrich or game with cot­tage cheese dip Pro-vita or whole­grain crack­ers with a low-fat/sugar-free spread Raw veg­gies (car­rots, snap peas, cherry toma­toes and baby corn) with a dip (light may­on­naise, sug­ar­free peanut but­ter or hum­mus)


The five golden rules for a healthy school lunch box are Va­ri­ety, Bal­anced, Colour­ful, Fresh, Fun

Use a lunch box with di­viders to pack the lunch and snack in cre­ative ways. It will also dis­play food more at­trac­tively. Put your child's name on the box to make them feel im­por­tant.

Make them feel spe­cial! Write a short note or put a pic­ture of their favourite su­per­hero or fam­ily photo in their lunch box. They will look for­ward to their next lunch break.

Re­sist giv­ing your child money to spend at the school cafe­te­ria. Re­mem­ber you are not around to give ad­vice and guide them on what to buy, and there are loads of temp­ta­tions.

Keep it in­ter­est­ing! Cut out the sand­wich into a heart shape or as­sem­ble the fruit into the shape of a flower. Put fruit and veg­etable pieces onto skew­ers to make ke­babs. GET CRE­ATIVE: Have a look at

www.su­per­healthykids.com and www.

ea­sy­lunch­boxes.com for some fantastic ideas. SUR­PRISE your lit­tle one with a treat once in a while. A small choco­late or cup­cake will re­mind them that treats can be part of a healthy, bal­anced diet.

PLAN AHEAD! Take time to plan each lunch box. This is not time wasted – re­mem­ber you are in­vest­ing in your child’s health and well­be­ing and should never com­pro­mise on that. THE HEALTH­I­EST TYPE OF BREAD ● Low GI seeded bread/buns ● Whole­grain or multi-seed wraps/ pitas Gluten- and wheat-free op­tions should only be given to chil­dren with a true al­lergy or in­tol­er­ance

Home­made breads are great – es­pe­cially if you make use of stone­ground flour, nuts and seeds to keep the GI low. Keep the sea­son and time of school breaks in mind when plan­ning a lunch box. For ex­am­ple, sand­wiches that con­tain leafy greens, chicken, egg or fish should be con­sumed at the first break and be kept in a cool con­tainer in sum­mer. Winter is ideal to pack in a whole­some soup in a mug with a lid.


Cut down on sugar as it is empty calo­ries that won't keep your child full for long.

Al­ways di­lute 100 per­cent fruit juices or fruit pulp with wa­ter or ice cubes.

Al­ways re­mem­ber to rather eat the fruit than drink its juice.

Cor­dials, com­mer­cial milk­shakes, fizzy drinks, fruit con­cen­trates and sport drinks are loaded with sugar and calo­ries. They are not rec­om­mended.

Wa­ter can be nat­u­rally flavoured with fruit to give a fruity taste – make use of a wa­ter-bot­tle dis­penser or freeze wa­ter with fresh fruit pieces in a bot­tle at home.

Fruit is nat­u­rally high in sugar and, there­fore, adding a treat to the lunch box con­trib­utes to added sugar.

Add plain yo­ghurt to smooth­ies to cut down on the sugar con­tent.


Al­ways make a list of the things you need. One tends to buy un­nec­es­sary gro­ceries and tempt­ing snacks if one doesn't stick to a list.

Home­made food and snacks are best com­pared to com­mer­cially pre­pared prod­ucts that may be high in sugar, fat and salt. There­fore, rather pre­pare smooth­ies, bread and muffins at home and in­volve your chil­dren. Buy in bulk and save on costs. Buy sea­sonal veg­eta­bles and fruit. Snacks should be low in sugar and salt. There­fore, rather choose non-sugar-coated dried fruit and un­salted nuts.

Start your own veg­etable and herb gar­den. This will not only en­tice your child to grow and en­joy veg­eta­bles, but will also save on costs.

Dairy is im­por­tant for chil­dren. Choose full-cream prod­ucts for chil­dren younger than two years old and low-fat for chil­dren older than two years of age.

It’s im­por­tant to in­volve your child in choos­ing, buy­ing and pre­par­ing meals and snacks! Bake to­gether!

Read the food la­bels. Branded food prod­ucts with an ac­tion fig­ure does not nec­es­sar­ily mean it is healthy and kid-friendly. Al­ways look at the calo­rie, sugar, fat, fi­bre and salt con­tent.


Try to flavour wa­ter nat­u­rally by adding the fol­low­ing and leav­ing them overnight in the re­frig­er­a­tor. You can also freeze these in an ice-lolly mould to en­joy on a hot sum­mer’s day. Pineap­ple cubes and kiwi slices Wa­ter­melon and rose­mary sticks Grape­fruit slices and mint leaves Gin­ger, lemon slices and rasp­ber­ries

Blue­ber­ries, orange and lemon slices

Straw­ber­ries, cu­cum­ber, orange slices and mint leaves


Freeze yo­ghurt, fresh fruit pieces and wa­ter and let them en­joy these ice lol­lies in­stead of ice-cream. Use them at par­ties too.

Make smooth­ies from fresh fruit, yo­ghurt, and wa­ter or milk and let them en­joy it as a snack or as a drink at break­fast.

In­crease the chil­dren’s in­ter­est by serv­ing wa­ter in funky coloured bot­tles or jugs with curly straws. Put a funky la­bel with a mes­sage, pic­ture or their name on their wa­ter bot­tle.

Al­ways send a bot­tle of wa­ter to school in their lunch box. Freeze them as cold wa­ter quenches thirst.

Al­ways have a bot­tle of wa­ter in your baby bag or cooler and en­cour­age your child to take small sips dur­ing the day, even if they are not al­ways thirsty.

Serve wa­ter with plenty of crushed ice. The ice adds more fluid. Of­fer your child sparkling, un­flavoured wa­ter. They might en­joy the bub­bly sen­sa­tion.

Make a healthy hot choco­late by adding unsweet­ened ca­cao pow­der and one tea­spoon of sugar/ honey to milk. Let them en­joy it as a hot bev­er­age in winter or cold in sum­mer.

Home­made cold ice tea is a great thirst quencher – limit it to only one (for smaller in­fants) to two (for older chil­dren) glasses per day in be­tween meals or freeze into small ice cubes and add it as ice blocks to wa­ter.

Clock­wise: from left, hum­mus sand­wich and ched­dar cheese; fun preschool lunch with puzzle sand­wich, grapes, hum­mus cu­cum­bers and veg­gie chips; crack­ers, baby car­rots, straw­ber­ries, cold meat and cheese; sand­wich with cold meat, cheese, let­tuce leaves, onion and tomato slices.

Lucinda Lourens

Min­eral wa­ter with straw­ber­ries, ice and mint in a vin­tage cup

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