The perfect lunchbox
With a new school year on the horizon, give kids the best possible start by sending them off with some healthy grub. Helen Ford, head of nutrition at Glenville Nutrition Clinics, lifts the lid on the perfect packed lunch
‘Make sure a slow-release carbohydrate is included in the packed lunch
– think a wholemeal sandwich or bread roll filled with a protein such as fish, egg, hummus or cheese,’ says Helen. ‘The combination of slow-release carbs and protein keeps blood sugar levels stable for longer, which helps with children’s concentration and focus.’
Include some fresh fruit and veggies for extra vitamins, minerals and fibre. Try a pot of mixed berries or some chopped cucumber, carrot and tomato. ‘And if they want something sweet, you could try making your own cakes without adding refined sugar,’ Helen adds.
What your child eats plays a big part in their learning. Helen says that because the brain is largely made up of fat, it’s vital to eat lots of fat-rich foods such as oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocados and coconut oil. These foods also help keep blood sugar stable and improve concentration and memory.
‘Avoid giving kids refined sugar most of the time; have it as a treat,’ she says. ‘Also, swerve low-calorie or sugar-free squashes as they contain artificial sweeteners and encourage the need for more sweet food.’ Helen also recommends diluting pure fruit juice. ‘It stimulates a sharp blood sugar rise, which drops just as quickly, leaving your child hungry and struggling to focus.’
Hiding healthy food is a good way to ensure kids will eat up, and boost their vegetable, protein and fibre content too. ‘Grate carrot and courgette into Bolognese sauce, sprinkle ground almonds into porridge or add sweet potato and dried apricots into a curry,’ suggests Helen. she also recommends using brown rice or trying half brown and half white, and adds: ‘Get children involved with cooking, if they can see what you are doing and help with chopping and grating it will encourage a more varied diet.’
The perfect lunchbox