Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Cover Story -

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.

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