We all know that a healthy diet is rich in healthy vegetables, fruit, meat and fish along with complex carbohydrates, but how do we put this into our children’s lunch boxes? Lunch provides a third of your child’s daily requirements. A healthy balanced diet help us to improve immune system.In an ideal world all our children would relish the idea of a lunch packed with grains, protein, vegetables and fruit, but in reality this would be returned to sender at 3.30pm! How to make a lunch which is more likely to be eaten but is also healthy is a constant angst for parents. Here are some suggestions and a recipe to make an easy and delicious healthy chocolate snack below.
Try and avoid sugar and simple carbohydrates
Sugar is the leading cause of obesity in children and children who ‘fill-up’ on soft drinks do not eat properly and can therefore become deficient in essential nutrients. There is also some experimental evidence that a high sugar intake can weaken our defenses against viral infections. Simple sugars can cause a sharp rise of sugar in the blood. This high sugar level causes insulin release and then a drop in blood sugar to below normal levels. Low blood sugar can cause poor concentration and sleepiness leading to poor school performance. For this reason it is also important to also give your child a good breakfast which contains complex carbohydrate and protein. For example wholegrain cereal with a cup of milk.
The healthiest drink is water. Drinking sweetened drinks such as fizzy drinks supplies excessive sugar.
When making sandwiches…
Use wholemeal or wholegrain bread and spread with a healthy spread like avocado. Fillings of meat or ricotta cheese are excellent. Try to avoid commercial spreads, which are tend to loaded with unhealthy trans fats and high in salt and sugar. If your child only likes peanut butter, try cutting the sandwiches into different shapes to make it more interesting. If your child is wheat intolerant rice cakes can be used instead of wholewheat bread.
As far as possible avoid foods of convenience such as cakes and biscuits. Potato crisps are best avoided and they contain unhealthy fats, high in salt and carbohydrate along with artificial flavourings and chemicals such as MSG.
Add fruit and vegetables to provide good source of fibre– children love little containers of food so try a little container of chopped fruit or carrots/cucumber mixed together with some hummus.
Surprise your child every now and then with a cartoon napkin, a special treat or a note!
While being home schooled, healthy snacks can be introduced to your children.
Top 5 healthy snacks recommended by our dietitian
- Fruit: high in vitamin C and fibre, help to boost immune system and prevent constipation
- Fruit sorbet: help to boost fruit intake for those do not like whole fruit
- Veggie sticks: carrot, cucumber and celery are high in fibre, carrot is rich in beta carotene and help to boost immune system
- Boiled corn: good source of fibre and beta carotene, help to boost immune system
- Mixed nuts: good source of healthy fat, protein, vitamin E & fibre.
A healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for children. Don’t forget the importance of exercise which has numerous health benefits. It is difficult in Hong Kong where schools often have little formal exercise lessons but ideally your child should get exercise every day. Exercise aids good sleep another important factor for healthy children. Try and address emotional issues early, before they disrupt sleep and behaviour.
In conclusion encourage your children to want to eat healthily but setting the example, avoid excessive sugars, try and make it all fun and do the best you can!
Violet Man's organic chocolate oatmeal balls
200g of organic oatmeal with dried blueberry, cranberry, raisin
140g of 60% organic peppermint tea chocolate
25g of 80% organic dark chocolate
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- Chop 80% chocoate finely
- Melt 60% organic peppermint tea chocolate
- Mix oatmeal, dried blueberry, dried cranberry, raisin, honey & chia seeds
- Scoop 1/2 tablespoon of melt chocolate, and mix with oatmeal mixture into a ball shape
- Coat balls in 80% finely chopped dark chocolate
- Place the balls in an airtight container in the fridge for 30 minutes and ready to serve -- enjoy 1-2 balls daily.