As the new school year approaches, it can be difficult to think up healthy lunch and snack ideas for the children’s packed lunch, so the Public Health Agency (PHA) has some handy advice and tips on choosing a healthier option for the best start to the school year.
The main message is to steer clear of sugary drinks and snacks high in added fat, salt and sugars and to remember that children only need kid-sized portions.
It’s also important to get your children involved in making up their lunchboxes too, and encourage them to make healthier food choices that will benefit them throughout their lives.
What to pack – Water: tap water or unflavoured, still, bottled water. Milk: all whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed unflavoured milk.
What not to pack – Fruit juices (including pure fruit juice), smoothies, sparkling water, squash or fizzy drinks, even those labelled ‘no added sugar’, ‘diet’ or ‘zero’.
Fruit and veg:
What to pack – Any fresh fruit and vegetables, or fruit packed in pots or tins in fruit juice but not in syrup. A portion could be one medium sized piece of fruit, eg: apple, orange, banana, pear; a cup of grapes, cherries or berries; a cereal bowl of salad, eg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and celery.
What not to pack – Fruit tinned in syrup, dried fruit (eg raisins, sultanas) and processed fruit bars (eg fruit winders, fruit flakes etc). These are high in sugar and can cause tooth decay.
What to pack – White or wholemeal bread, rolls or baguettes, toast, plain bagels, wheaten, soda, potato or pitta bread, spread thinly with a little margarine, low-fat spread or butter; plain bread sticks or crackers, a small sandwich with a sugar-free filling such as tomato, tuna, chicken, cheese etc.
What not to pack – Sugary spreads, including jam, honey, marmalade or chocolate spread as these are harmful to teeth. Peanut butter is high in fat and salt so is not recommended; many schools are nut-free zones. Stay clear of cereal bars, or sweetened breads and pastries, eg pancakes, scones (plain and fruit), fruit bread, croissants and Danish pastries as these can contain a lot of sugar and/or fat and salt.Tags: