Parents are being encouraged to keep their children’s lunchboxes nutritious as they prepare for a return to school from holidays across the South West.
South West Hospital and Health Service Community Nutritionist Rohan Ballon says the Health of Queenslanders 2018 report shows school lunches can be a problem.
“According to the report, around 31 % of children in the South West are now overweight or obese, higher than the state average of 26 per cent, an although the causes of obesity are complex, poor nutrition can be a significant factor.”
“Queensland children and adults, including in the South West, are choosing foods and drinks that are highly processed, energy–dense and nutrient–poor, instead of the nutrient-rich five food groups from healthy food sources and necessary for a long and healthy life.”
“Across the state, and the situation is no different in the South West, only 0.6 per cent of school-aged children met the recommendation for daily vegetable intake from healthy foods.
Among 14–18-year-olds, almost one half (45%) of daily total energy intake was from unhealthy foods.”
Mr Ballon says good nutrition could help children to build healthy bodies and minds.
“However, children don’t always know what food is best for them and need to be guided.”
“We learn our eating habits at a young age so packing a healthy lunchbox can help give children the best start in life.”
Mr Ballon says healthy eating meant choosing a wide variety of foods every day from the five food groups in the Australian Dietary Guidelines, Vegetables and legumes/beans, Fruit, Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain like breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, Lean meat and poultry, fish, eggs and seeds and legumes/beans and milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives (mostly reduced fat).
“For a healthy lunchbox, you should pick and mix something from each food group plus water.”
“Packing a lunchbox with real food can be as simple as including a sandwich or wrap, raw carrot, a piece of fruit and a tub of yoghurt. But be sure to keep dairy foods cool to avoid the Queensland heat and food-borne illnesses.”
“Simple ways to do this may include freezing your custard, yoghurt or popper or by adding a frozen water bottle or frozen fruit, such as frozen grapes.”
“Packing a lunchbox should take no more than 10 minutes and your children are more likely to eat the food they’ve helped choose and prepare. Trust your child and follow the cues of what they are eating and what is returning home untouched.”
“Maintaining variety, for instance, is important to avoid monotony and the return of uneaten food.”
“The key is to be as creative as possible in food combination to achieve an interesting presentation in the lunchbox.”
Visit https://healthy-kids.com.au/10-great-lunch-box-ideas/ for great lunchbox presentationand composition ideas.