One of the trending topics in the British Mums Dubai Facebook group over the last few weeks is healthy and creative lunchboxes. What to pack, which lunchboxes to use and how to convince your child to eat healthy – it’s a never ending list of questions as the kids head back to school after the summer holidays!

Considering that kids consume at least two meals in school, healthy lunchboxes SHOULD BE of high priority for mums.   

Ensuring the intake of essential nutrients for kids is very important, as they are still growing and developing into adults. A good diet is vital for the development of a child as it avoids health concerns such as obesity, being underweight, vitamin deficiencies, tooth decay, allergies and much more. A  healthy diet also aids brain development and functions as well as supporting the immune system.

Practising and developing good food habits at a young age can help children to maintain a balanced diet and good health throughout their lives. 

Preparing healthy lunchboxes for kids who prefer creative and tasty meals doesn’t need to be difficult. Banin Shanine, Nutrition Manager at Fitness First, shares top tips to make a nutritious lunchbox for your young schooler. 

A lunchbox must contain the three most important nutrients:

Complex carbohydrates

Energy and concentration is much needed in kids. A healthy serving of carbohydrates will help them get through their afternoon classes and outdoor activities.  Whole wheat bread, pasta, brown rice and popcorn are great options.

Protein

Milk and dairy products are an important source of protein. It is important that children consume full-fat milk as it is low in sugar compared to low-fat alternatives. Full fat milk is also naturally high in vitamin-D, which may be lost with low-fat variants due to the processing stage. 

Foods high in protein such as cheese, eggs, labneh, turkey and chicken breast are vital for healthy growth.

Healthy fats

Not all fats are good for you but healthy fats such as unsaturated fats help absorb certain nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K) and antioxidants. Healthy fats are also responsible for body cell structure. Omega-3 fats, a type of unsaturated fat, are important for optimum nerve, brain and heart function. Avocados, peanut butter, salmon, nuts and seeds contains unsaturated fats that are very healthy.

Foods to Avoid:

Processed and Pre-packed foods

They are a much faster and easier option, but these foods contain of harmful amount of sugars, sodium and unhealthy fats. 

Simple Sugars

Simple sugars are most commonly found in soft drinks, desserts, candies and sweets which all contribute to health problems. Obesity and heart disease have been associated with over-consumption of simple sugars.

Saturated and Trans fats

Processed foods, fast food and ready-made snacks such as chips, donuts, etc., contain high percentages of saturated and trans fats that can lead to an increase in cholesterol levels and higher chance of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Empty Calories

Calories that provide little or no nutritional value are considered empty calories. Most processed foods and sweet snacks such as ice cream, candies etc., contain empty calories.

It is important to read labels to avoid over consumption of poor nutrients. 

Here’s some healthy lunch box ideas to get you started.

Main meal

Whole wheat bread, a boiled egg and mixed vegetables 

Oats, dairy or vegan milk and one piece of fruit of your choice

Smoked turkey breast rolled in lettuce leaves and mixed salad on the side

Snacks

Fruit bowl 

Popcorn

Drinks

Milk 

Laban

Water 

Infused water

Beware of juices as the sugar content is very high

Written by Fitness First.

Read more:

10 British meals that the kids will enjoy as much as the adults

The naughty list – 10 ingredients that you need to look out for in children’s products

Can’t eat won’t eat: the unforgiving world of toddler feeding!

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