The start of the school year heralds the start of making the school lunch boxes. Kids need lots of different nutrients to make sure they are getting the most out of their school day and whether it’s your first year or your last year, making sure they have a selection of foods that cover these bases can be a challenge. A well balanced lunch box should include:

Carbohydrates: Utilised by the body to provide energy for body and mind these are found in a number of food sources. Not all carbs are created equal and while sugary items are often the most popular for little ones, complex carbohydrates are best for sustaining them through out the day. Sources of carbohydrates are (opt for brown or multigrain) foods like bread, pasta, rice, crispbreads, crackers and wraps or vegetables.

Protein: Protein is another one of those important nutrients for kid’s lunch boxes; it is required for growth, learning and many metabolic processes. Protein can help little tummies feel fuller for longer and can work as a filling for sandwiches or prepared into a salad.

Meats like beef, lamb, chicken. Eggs, fish (like tuna) and cheese are other examples. If you prefer a non animal based protein, then beans, lentils, tofu and tempeh are great options.

Healthy Fats: Healthy fats are involved in brain development and growth and are essential component of our kid’s diets. They also have a role in sustaining energy levels and helping your child feel fuller for longer.

Foods such as avocado, oily fish like tuna or salmon, eggs, seeds and dairy can be incorporated into a salad or sandwich or on their own for those who like to graze.

Fibre: Fibre helps keep kid’s bowel motions regular and can take a while to digest helping our kids feel fuller for longer. It may also assist in maintaining energy levels by balancing blood sugar – this will aid in concentration and focus. Fibre is also beneficial for our microbiome – which is the good bacteria found in our gut.

Fruits and vegetables are a great source – they also contain a range of vitamins and minerals. These are perfect foods to give for snacks or “brain food” times. Other good sources are wholegrains, beans and lentils.

Drinks: Learning is thirsty work and making sure a child is well hydrated enhances their ability to concentrate and learn. Water is the best drink to offer – it is essential for life and keeps kids hydrated. It has the added bonus of acting as an ice block to keep food cool if you freeze it overnight and add it to the lunch box.

Remember, it can be easy to get discouraged when food comes back in the lunch box or your child will only eat a vegemite sandwich (been there!). Don’t worry too much – sometimes children are too busy they can forget to eat or they like to take their time over their meals. It is just one meal and we can make sure the other meals in a day are balanced.

Happy New School Year!

By Bec Talia, Reservoir mum and owner of Bec The Naturopath.