Countless times we have heard about the importance of providing a protein-rich lunch and healthy snacks for our children at school. A subject as weighty as the food that is responsible for providing the much-needed nutrients our children need to grow should be taken seriously. In a learning environment, children need as many nutrients to fuel their brains, as they need to keep them strong in the playground. Additionally, with anxiety statistics on the rise in our children, it is important to support their blood sugars throughout the day as imbalanced blood sugars can mimic the same sensations as anxiety/ the feelings of a panic attack. One way of supporting your child’s mental health is by providing a lunch kit full of healthy fats, protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber.
School-aged children also use up a lot of energy, both mental and physical, in their quest for knowledge and it is, therefore, crucial that they are provided with foods that help them to stay alert throughout the learning process. If you consider your child’s lunch when they are at school as the fuel reserve they need to perform well for the entire day, then it is easier to visualize the nutritional value of what should be provided to them.
As a result of high activity levels such as playing and learning use up water-soluble vitamins like C & B so rapidly that these need to be replaced. A belly full of the right kind of food is vital for a healthy immune system, good mood, brain function, hormone balance, and stress response. The downside of not providing adequate nutrients for our children is weariness caused by starved cells and a brain that has already received signals from the gut that there is no energy replacement once the available reserves are depleted.
As a busy mom, I know first hand it’s one thing to plan a meal for your child, but getting them to enjoy it with an open mind can be another task.
Here are some lunchbox ideas that I believe help deliver the right nutrition in a way that is appealing and fun to kids:
Make eating fun by packing food and drinks in containers that your children love.
Hydration is key. Pack water bottles in cool containers, try fun-shaped ice cubes, or add fresh fruit like oranges or lemon slices for added Vitamin C. Check out some of my simple water-infused recipes here.
Dip it. Dipping is just fun. End of story. Use small dip containers and fill with natural yogurt for those berries or a tablespoon of almond butter for celery sticks.
Cookie Cutters are not just for Christmas time. Bust those babies out and use cutters to make sandwiches or sliced fruits and veggies into shapes. It’s amazing what my kids have tried because it was in a fun shape!
Just add chocolate. A few raw cocoa nibs for those ants on a log or in a quick no-bake treat make the kids feel like they are enjoying a chocolate treat while you are providing key minerals like magnesium. One of my kids’ favorite recipes is my no-bake Chocolate Quinoa Snack bars.
Pasta, wraps, hard-boiled eggs, and soups that can be made ahead on a Sunday and placed into lunch containers for the week can change the boring sandwich menu, which provides the variety kids love, enhance the nutrient density of meals, and saves us parents time throughout the week.
As a Nutritional Consultant and Practitioner, and mom of two, I would advise diet changes to be gradual versus abrupt, so that the child does not feel nervous and shut down to the changes. Also, for many, their digestive system requires time to adjust when you are making significant diet changes. Therefore, start by replacing one or two components with healthy alternatives and nutrient-dense foods. For instance, you could replace that commercial peanut butter with a natural almond or cashew butter, change pre-packaged cookies to a no-bake energy ball or swap those cheese and crackers for hummus and veggie sticks.
Keep it fun, simple, and nutritious. When you are looking for new recipes check out my Recipe Page for new Holistic Nutrition & Kid-approved recipes.