In today’s world dominated by media and articles constantly reminding us of the important to lead a healthy lifestyle, it can become a tangled mess of information when one suggestion contradicts the next on what the right type of ‘healthy’ is. This is especially true when you are a busy parent trying to provide your child with the healthiest lunch box possible to take to school. And when a type of food is healthy and amazing one week, but too high in fats or sugar the next, according to news articles, it can be extremely difficult to get it ‘right’. It is time to eliminate does 5 Myths about Healthy Lunches.
This article is here to help you filter your way through the myths surrounding what makes a healthy lunch box. But more importantly, this article is here to reassure that there is no perfect formula to the healthiest lunch box. You need to keep in mind that every child is individual and living unique circumstances – your number one priority is to find what is right for your child to give them a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
5 Myths about Healthy Lunches
Myth 1: a low fat diet is best for kids
Ultimately, children need a balanced lifestyle more than they need a low-fat diet. Children are growing and developing, from their bones to their brains, and they need healthy fats that are going to support this growth. Unsaturated fats that are found in olive oil, peanut oil, tuna, and salmon are vital to this growth. Even some saturated fats are needed, in moderation, in a child’s diet. These are found in meats, cheese, milk, and butter.
Certainly, there are some fats that you want to avoid putting in your child’s lunch box. These are trans fats, such as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats and found in highly processed or greasy snacks. Just remember that fats need to be served to your child in moderation, but make sure you aren’t depriving them of the good fats they need for optimal growth and development.
Myth 2: fruit juice that is 100% fruit is a good option
Staying hydrated is highly important in the school day but sometimes your child might complain that only drinking water is boring at school. Fruit juice boxes are a handy alternative to add some interesting and flavoured fluids in your kids’ lunch box.
With so many varieties and brands of fruit juices claiming different things, we often go straight for the 100% fruit juice that we are led to believe are healthy and sugar free thanks to advertising. The fact is that any fruit juice, unless you freshly squeeze it that morning, is never going to be sugar free. There are always going to be added sugars and preservatives to keep it fresh, with some brands just having less than others.
This doesn’t mean that you should steer away from 100% fruit juice in your kids’ lunch box. They can be a very handy to drink for kids to have and the sugars are important in keeping your child’s blood sugar levels in check. They are also a better option to sugary soft drinks like Coke or Fanta that have even more preservatives and chemicals. Just ensure that your child is drinking plenty of water in addition to the fruit juice to stay hydrated. Or mix it as for example 2/3 of juice and 1/3 of water.
Myth 3: there are fewer calories in low fat foods
Don’t feel bad if you just constantly feel confused about how many calories things are meant to have and how many calories are too much. Many people out there feel just the same. Just try not to be sucked in by foods claiming they are ‘low fat’ – especially when it comes to snacks. Snacks aims at kids such as cookies and crisps that are ‘low fat’ often just have less fat that is replaced by other ingredients that contain even more calories.
The best way to stay on top of the calorie situation is to check the product label. Try to get products that have low sodium content and few additives, as these are the healthiest for kids. Organic brands and naturally produced snacks, although sometimes higher in price, are really the best value for your kids’ health.
Myth 4: you should avoid all sugary snacks in a lunch box
With sugary snacks, you certainly don’t want to give your kids too many in their lunch box. However, to do this doesn’t mean that you have to swing to the other end of pendulum and give your kids absolutely no sugar at all.
Sugar is actually really important for kids to have in their diet at school. Keep in mind that school days are really high energy and there is a lot going on for kids, from using their brain to process information to running around the playground with their friends. Sugar is needed to help fuel some of this energy. It is just when there is too much sugar that it becomes a problem. If the sugar isn’t burned off, that’s when it will turn to unhealthy fat.
So when you pack a sugary snack, think about it in relation to how much energy your child is burning. For example, your child isn’t likely to burn off a sugary soft drink, a lollipop and some candies, plus a chocolate bar. But one small chocolate bar is a suitable treat for your child to have in their lunch box to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
Myth 5: healthy food isn’t appealing to kids
Kids are only human and they are fussy. This is something that you as a parent will just have to accept. A soft and slightly bruised apple probably isn’t going to cut it at school and you’re going to find that you child doesn’t want to eat a plain salad on dry bread.
But this doesn’t mean that kids don’t like healthy food. They don’t like food that is presented poorly. They don’t like food that is stale. They don’t like food that is damaged. And this is fair enough.
You can get creative with the way you present healthy food to your kids in their lunch box. For example, chop up vegetables in carrot and celery sticks with some tasty hummus dip or create a wrap with avocado spread and healthy salad selection. A rainbow fruit salad or fruit kebabs on skewers are sometimes kids’ favourites. The most important thing is to maintain a positive attitude towards healthy food – you as a parent sets the example with your attitude towards eating healthy.