By Joelle Mintzberg, CNP

The value of eating healthy food cannot be over-stated. Healthy foods are crucial for an easy back-to-school transition and provide numerous benefits including:

  • Increases energy (keeping kids motivated & happy)
  • Keeps blood sugar levels stable (keeping kids full & focused)
  • Enhances energy without causing hyperactivity

Your kids can help you prepare lunches every evening, which will help them get excited about living a healthy lifestyle. Here’s a simple guideline that can be followed for healthy back-to-school (and work) lunches:

Include F R E S H foods.

Processed foods contain added sugar, sodium, preservatives, and unhealthy fats. Continually eating processed foods also makes it more difficult to get kids to eat fresh foods because their palates become accustomed to the artificially engineered flavours in processed foods.

Sweets with lunch affect children’s behaviour and tend to create a habit of casually eating unhealthy foods. Treats can be enjoyed at special meals and celebrations with friends and family but avoiding them on a daily basis is best for overall health.

Include P R O T E I N.

Protein helps to keep blood sugar levels balanced avoiding energy spikes and crashes. It also helps keep kids full and ensures proper brain development.

Include V E G G I E S and F R U I T.

An adequate intake of fruits and veggies is important in order for kids to get a proper dose of vitamins and minerals, and fibre.

Here is what a well-balanced lunch box looks like:

  • 1 serving of veggies
  • 1 serving of fruit
  • 1 serving of protein
  • 1 serving of complex carbs – grains, root veggies
  • 1 water bottle

Here are a few lunch box ideas:

Lunch Box #1

  • Cut up veggie sticks with hummus
  • Ezekiel sprouted grain wrap with avocado, lettuce, sprouts, hummus and hemp hearts (left over protein from the night before can be included if more protein is required)
  • Orange wedges
  • A full water bottle (Research shows that a bottle of water drank before a meal reduces sugar cravings, improves satiation and dramatically reduces the risk of obesity).

Lunch Box #2

  • Leftover quinoa salad from dinner the night before with chicken
  • Small side salad with fresh greens and veggies
  • Kiwi
  • A full water bottle

Lunch Box #3

  • Soba noodle salad with left over protein from the previous night
  • Spelt blueberry banana muffin
  • Apple slices with cinnamon and almond butter
  • A full water bottle

Packing homemade lunches does take time. It helps to optimize success at school, to support a healthy lifestyle, and to promote your child’s adoption of healthy habits from a young age.