In this guest post, University of Newcastle dietician shares her tips for school lunches and introduces details about two new FREE online nutrition courses for parents and kids.
So school has gone back and you’re already thinking about how many more lunchboxes you have to pack before school holidays? Or maybe your thinking “Are my kids eating right? Are they a fussy eater? How do I know”? Or maybe you’re thinking “Can someone explain to my kids about what is healthy eating”
To help you with these questions, there are two great online courses available for families starting on March 4, 2020.
Developed by research dietitians at The University of Newcastle, these FREE courses are for the whole family. One course is for kids while the other is for parents. Both courses are designed to be complementary so you can have some healthy conversations!
Food for Kids: Discovering Healthy Eating (Eat 101) for Kids Aged 5 – 12
What your children will learn
• What is in food and how it is digested in the body
• The healthy eating guidelines and how to identify healthy food and drink choices
• How to understand food advertising and marketing, and how to create health messages
• How healthy eating habits contribute to your wellbeing
• About reducing food waste and being part of a healthy community.
Food for Kids: A Parents Guide (Eat 102)
What you as a parent will learn
• What is in food and drinks and how they influence growth and development
• How much and which foods are enough for children to meet nutrition guidelines
• Nutrient intake targets for children
• How health messages and food marketing influence children
• Managing common food behaviours during childhood such as Fussy Eating
• Practical guidance toward healthy household eating habits.
Packing lunchboxes can be stressful whether your new at it or have been doing it for a while. To help get you started so you don’t get lunch box burnout, here are a few simple tips:
- Keep it simple – you don’t have to be perfect or amazing. You just need to choose some simple healthy things for your children. For kindergarten, select a maximum of three or four small items in the lunch box.
- Choose fruits that are going to be still great at fruit break and not end up squishy and brown. Apples and orange quarters are great staples. To stop fruit going brown, put a bit of lemon juice on it if packing the night before, or pop in small, tightfitting containers. You can cut an apple, then put it back together with an elastic band around it!
- Don’t get overconcerned if food comes home – especially in the first few weeks. For those starting kindergarten, there is lots happening at school, playing, new friends, new teachers and new places to eat. Things will settle down after a few weeks.
- There are going to be some days better than others in terms of what’s packed. That’s normal! Be mindful of food choices for later in the week when fruit is already used up or bread not fresh. If there is no fruit, vegetables are great at fruit break, chopped up. Freeze sandwiches ahead of time. If bread is a few days old, some toasted sandwiches that are cold are winners also!
- Be mindful about packaging – a key thing is about reducing food waste but also remember some packets are hard to open, we have all struggled with this sometimes, where possible remove packaging to make eating the food easier.
- Variety is key – not only try to make sure you have the food groups covered. For those who can’t remember it is fruit, vegetables, dairy and alternatives, meat and alternatives and grains but make sure there is variety within each food group. Fruits and vegetables are great as there are many different colours to choose from to make it look happy and fun to eat. Think to yourself, would you like to eat it?
Make packing the lunch box the norm in your house- if you and or your partner are heading off to work, why can’t everyone take one? Often we as parents make poor choices when we don’t have healthy food available to us. So, if your kids are young get them started early on packing lunch boxes so when they do go to school they know what a healthy lunchbox is going to look like.
About the author
Dr Tracy Burrows is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian (AdvAPD) and Associate Professor in the School of Health Sciences at University of Newcastle. Tracy has expertise in the areas of the assessment and validation of dietary intake, obesity management across the lifespan and food addiction and has published her work in peer reviewed journals.
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Started in late 2012 by a local mum, Newy with Kids has grown into a thriving go-to family guide for the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter region. Parents visit the Newy with Kids website to find things to do with babies, kids and teens. Whether it’s local attractions, upcoming events, kids eat free, school holiday activities or birthday party ideas, Newy with Kids is the best website for local parents to find local kid-friendly activities and information 24/7.