FOR LUNCHBOX THOUGHT
Teach kids about nutrition.
Pack water. If you think soft drink has its place, then that place is at home, not at school. Position it as a grown-up drink rather than banning it (some experts say forbidding foods can backﬁre and lead to over-consumption of them later in life).
Choose foods that are mainly plants and wholegrains. Some fruit and dairy is also okay. Mufﬁns, soups, scrolls, healthy sausage rolls, falafels, salads, patties, lamb meatball pita pockets, vegie pikelets, vegetable sushi rolls, cheesy cauliﬂower slice, date and oat bars and tahini, linseed and buckweat balls with honey and apricot go down well as do live yoghurt, cherry tomatoes, blueberries and avocado. There are loads of healthy lunchbox ideas out there. Let your kids help pick the ones they fancy.
A healthy lunchbox that comes back uneaten is no use. The child needs to eat something so pack two or three foods, including protein, fat and carbohydrate.
Pack food they love, but accept that children need to learn what they like and then express it to you. Those ignored roasted or raw carrots might instead be devoured steamed. The same goes with that hummus chosen over tzatziki, say.
Follow the rules... I mean guidelines, but those same rules should apply to school tuck-shops and vending machines.
Baking should be homemade, but avoid using processed ﬂours and sugars (note that even a simple slice or brownie, even a healthy one like zucchini, may fall foul of some schools’ rules, while any protein ball seems to get a tick even if it’s loaded with sugar).
Food shaming is not helpful.
The lunchbox is not convenience; it’s the foundation of your child’s education.
Lead by example at home.
Avoid applying positive and negative values to food. Drop words like ‘treats’, for instance. Some nutritionists suggest replacing all value words for food with neutral language, or with language that relates to an outcome associated with the consumption of particular foods.
Involve the kids in food preparation, letting them grate and mix and so on.
I like the advice from one school of nutritionists that as adults we get to choose the what, when and where of providing food, but let your child pick how much and whether they’ll eat. Let them learn to decide when they’re full.