Healthy Lunch for Kids
Parents all across the world are trying to come up with delicious and healthy lunch box ideas for their kids, and I’m sure you are one of them just like me.
It can be a challenge to come up with a variety of healthy lunch box ideas that are both healthy and appealing to your kids, week in, week out.
However, with a little bit of creativity and planning, you can create a nutritious, tasty, and healthy lunch box for your kids.
Why is it Important for Kids to Eat Healthy?
Firstly knowing why it is important for kids to get the recommended daily intake of the five food groups to ensure they are getting the required nutrients, fibre and vitamins, and minerals, in order to achieve optimal health and wellness is vital.
Getting the kids to eat healthy can be a difficult task but it is important for kids to eat healthy and understand the importance.
When kids are eating a balance of nutritional food the benefits can include:
- helps them to develop and grow properly
- gives them the energy they need to play and learn
- helps them build a strong immune system
- provides them with essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed to sustain optimal health
- helps them maintain a healthy weight
Eating healthy also helps kids develop healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime.
Starting Healthy Eating Habits for Kids
Starting healthy eating habits for kids at a young age is important to implement in order to establish habit building which can then lead to developing good habits and helping to break the not-so-good habits forming.
In fact, experts have suggested that children develop habits by the age of 9.
Implementing healthy habits at a young age can help establish a foundation for healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices, which in turn can support a lifetime of physical and mental well-being.
Implementing healthy eating at a young age can also have a strong influence on children to develop positive relationships with food.
Another positive benefit of learning healthy eating habits is that it can help children reach and maintain a healthy weight, which can help reduce their risk of developing:
- chronic diseases
- heart disease
- high blood sugar
- sleep problems
- behaviour problems
- psychological problems – depression, self-esteem issues, anxiety.
Tips on How to Implement Healthy Habits
Here are some suggestions to help implement healthy habits in kids at a young age.
Introduce Healthy Snacks
When the kids are hungry, and when packing healthy lunch box snacks, think of options like fruits, vegetables, nuts (if at home, as some schools are nut-free), and seeds are all great alternatives and swaps instead of processed snacks like chips, lollies, and cookies.
Getting into meal prep weekly can also be a great option. Baking your own treats can not only be a healthier option by controlling what goes into the recipe but it can also be more cost-effective.
Make Meals Together
Try and involve your kids in meal planning and preparation.
By getting them involved and asking them what they would like to eat and involving them in the cooking process can help build their relationship with food and give them responsibilities, leaving them feeling important.
Limit Processed Foods
It is important to reduce and limit the amount of processed foods in your house and encourage your kids to choose whole foods from the five food groups including foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and dairy.
Avoid Sugary Drinks
An easy and avoidable way to stop overeating refined sugar is to assess what you are consuming in the way of drinks. Limit sugary drinks like soft drinks, juice, sports drinks, and energy drinks.
Instead, always ensure you offer water as the first option along with milk, and only offer other drinks as treat or on occasion.
Eating together as a family not only offers quality family time to connect and talk to each other but helps to foster healthy eating habits.
It’s also a way to show your children that you all eat the same healthy foods.
It’s simple, be a role model for your children. Kids emulate and learn from what they see and what they are being taught.
Model healthy eating habits while being mindful of your own eating habits.
Avoid Food as a Reward
Don’t use food as a reward or punishment as this can undermine the healthy eating habits you are trying to establish. Instead, offer non-food rewards like extra playtime.
Ideas on How to get your Kids to Eat a Healthy Balance
Providing healthy food options to children from an early age sets the stage for healthy eating habits throughout their lives.
It’s easier to establish good eating habits from the start, rather than trying to break habits.
Get your Kids Involved
Involve your children in the process of choosing healthy foods and snacks.
Ideas to get them involved can include, taking them to the grocery store or having them help with meal preparation and cooking.
Make Meal Time Appealing
By making your children’s meal time enjoyable and in a sense fun can be a way to get your kids interested and want to try new things.
One way to achieve this is to get creative with the presentation and make healthy food look appealing.
Opening your child’s lunch box in the afternoon only to discover the sandwich hasn’t been eaten can be frustrating.
Some lunch box ideas are to try using cookie cutters to shape their sandwich into their favourite shapes or animals to help make them appealing and have their healthy lunch box coming home empty.
Set a Good Example
Not only will setting a good example benefit your children, but it will also have a positive impact on your own health and well-being. Always try and model healthy eating habits for your children by making healthy food choices yourself.
Limit Unhealthy Food
Out of sight, out of mind is the saying and it makes perfect sense. If your children are not seeing processed, sugary, and unhealthy food around they are less likely to ask for it.
Limit the amount of unhealthy food available to your children by not having it accessible in the pantry and fridge at home.
Education is an important technique to implement from day dot.
Teach children about the benefits of eating healthy and explain why certain foods are better than others and the effects some foods have on their body and health.
Ideas on Healthy Lunch for Kids
Here are some ideas to help get you started on healthy lunches for kids for a healthy lunch box.
Sandwiches are a classic, and you can easily make them to your child’s likely.
There are so many different options on the market these days in terms of bread types including, low carb, whole wheat or wholemeal, low GI, and high fibre to name a few.
Wraps are an excellent way to get creative with lunch box ideas.
Use whole wheat or wholemeal, low carb, or any tortilla or wrap your child prefers and fill them with lean proteins, such as grilled chicken, or deli meats, with cheese and various salad options.
Salads are a convenient and easy way to add a variety of vegetables and other nutritious ingredients to your child’s lunch. Salads are also a great meal prep option as they last a few days in the fridge without the salad dressing.
Start with a base of leafy greens, such as spinach or lettuce, and add in some diced salad ingredients like tomato, cucumber, and fetta. Next, add your protein like grilled chicken and a salad dressing (leave off until the morning of). You can also add some nuts (if not for school) or seeds for extra protein.
Adding healthy snacks are a great way to add some variety to your child’s healthy lunch box.
Ideas can include some fresh fruit, such as apples or oranges, no added sugar yogurt, granola bars, or a healthy muffin.
If your child loves vegetables, you could even add in some veggie sticks with hummus for dipping for another healthy lunch box idea.
With these lunch box ideas, you can make sure your child is getting the nutrition they need throughout the day and healthy foods they will eat and enjoy.
5 Day Healthy Lunch Box for Kids Meal Plan
Snack: Carrots and Hummus for dipping, popcorn
Lunch: Ham and Cheese Sandwich
Snack: Dried fruit and seed mix, grapes
Lunch: Turkey and cheese wrap
Snack: Popcorn with melted dark chocolate and sea salt, no added sugar yoghurt
Lunch: Ham and mixed salad bowl
Snack: Greek yogurt with berries
Lunch: Healthy homemade sausage rolls
Snack: Cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices
Lunch: Tuna Salad Sandwich
With a little bit of planning, you can ensure your child is eating healthy and delicious lunches that they will actually eat and enjoy.
Providing healthy lunch box options for your children is essential for their physical and cognitive development.
Remember to involve your children in the process of making their healthy lunch box, as this can be helpful for their development of healthy eating habits and making more informed choices about their food.
Overall, ensuring that your children have access to nutritious food at school can have a positive impact on their overall health and well-being.
Let me know your favourite healthy lunch box ideas via my socials.