For many parents preparing to send their children back to school, the thought of starting to make packed lunches again is filling them with dread. Haliborange, the UK’s No.1 kids vitamin brand, is working with Bahee Van De Bor, Harley Street Paediatric Dietitian, to take the worry out of lunchbox prep.
“Sending our children back to school can be a stressful time for parents as we’re forced to relinquish control over what our kids are and are not eating throughout the day,” says Bahee. “ With a number of government guidelines in place to ensure our kids’ lunchboxes are up to scratch, this adds pressure on busy parents to produce lunches that tick every box, five days a week. I’ve been working with Haliborange on developing and approving a weeks’ worth of healthy, nutritionally balanced lunchtime meals. I hope that by following these easy recipes, parents can feel confident that their kids are heading off to school with meals that taste great and include many of the key vitamins and minerals they need for their growth and development. All children under 5 years of age also need a daily vitamin A, C and D supplement. Children who are yet to become confident eaters may benefit from a daily multivitamin supplement but do speak to your dietitian or doctor for tailored advice.”
Here are her top tips for planning a lunch that’s as tasty as it is nutritionally balanced.
Lunch boxes should only provide around a third of children’s daily calories and not more. We have 1 in 3 children leaving primary school who are already overweight or living with obesity in the UK and for this reason, it’s important that lunchboxes are balanced with the correct ratio of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
Start with high fibre carbohydrates that are a source of fibre
Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients – nutrients that the body uses in relatively large amounts and needs daily – and is the primary source of fuel for children. Half of their daily calorie requirements should be provided by carbohydrates. Food sources of carbohydrates are bread, rice cakes, corn thins, bagels, rice, polenta, couscous, all types of potato, flour, pasta, oats, fruit and vegetables. When choosing bread for packed lunches, select a brand providing at least 5-6g of fibre per 100g. For all other carbohydrate foods, pick a brand providing the highest amount of fibre.
Include vegetables and other fibre rich foods for gut health
Looking after your child’s gut is important as good gut health has a role in immunity, providing protection against general infections like the common cold. Fibre and prebiotic foods – like fruit and vegetables – feed good bacteria and other microorganisms that live in children’s guts to help the body digest food and absorb nutrients. Include at least 1-2 servings of vegetables like sliced carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, lightly cooked or raw broccoli and cauliflower. Include a small pot of hummus or yoghurt-based dip for children to eat it with.
Choose lean or fibre rich protein
Contrary to popular belief, children do not need large quantities of protein to grow. Regardless, children do need adequate amounts of protein for normal growth and development and for the repair of their muscles and tissues. Protein rich foods include eggs, red meat, chicken, fish, lentils and legumes. Nuts and seeds are another source but do check with your school as most schools are nut-free. When selecting how much protein to include, a really nice trick is to use your child’s palm as a general guide for all ages.
Always Include an iron rich food
Some protein foods also double up as iron rich foods, therefore try not to omit this from their lunchboxes. For children following a vegetarian or plant-based diet, red lentils, chickpeas and beans are the richest plant sources of protein and iron.
Include a calcium rich food for strong bones and teeth
It’s not a myth, children do need calcium to build healthy bones and teeth. In fact, it’s a good idea to include a calcium rich food for their snack rather than their main meal as calcium and iron often compete for absorption. Yoghurt and cheese are great choices as they also double up as a protein food, or for children following a dairy free diet, choose a soy, coconut or oat-based yoghurt that’s also calcium fortified.
Choose healthy fats for long-term heart health
Plant-based oils and fats are the best type of fats for children and should provide approximately 30% of their daily requirements. The best sources include avocado and hummus. When cooking vegetables, red meat or chicken choose vegetable oils like rapeseed or any type of olive oils.
Pack 2-3 servings of fruit or vegetables for vitamins and minerals
If you have a picky eater, get your chid involved in the menu planning and make it fun! Let them choose from a variety of options and ask them to pick which fruit and vegetables to include in their own sandwiches or lunchboxes.
Keep portion sizes small for fun foods
Finally, check with your school regarding their policy for baked products. If it’s allowed, you could prepare your own mini savoury muffins that include vegetables, such as peas or spinach. For a sweet option, make your own baking with high fibre carbohydrates, such as oats, as a base. Then, sweeten naturally with dried fruit or mash it up in a puree form. And more importantly, don’t forget to keep portion sizes small and appropriately sized for their little bellies.
Recommended by 9 out of 10 parents, Haliborange is available from Boots, supermarkets and pharmacies. For more information on products, visit https://www.haliborange.com/, for recipes go to the Haliborange Instagram http://www.instagram.com/haliborangeuk