Nutrition Australia and Dairy Australia are encouraging parents to make a healthy start to the 2010 school year by packing a nutritious lunch box.
"Providing a diet full of nutrient-rich foods is one of the most important ways parents can help ensure their children remain healthy," said Accredited Practising Dietitian and spokesperson for Nutrition Australia, Aloysa Hourigan.
"Food eaten at school ideally provides up to a third of a child’s daily food intake. So packing a healthy lunch box can make a significant contribution to a child’s overall nutrient intake," Ms Hourigan said.
"The easiest way to make sure you provide the right foods in your child’s lunchbox is to include as many nutrient rich foods as possible, like milk, yoghurt, cheese, fruit, vegetables, lean meat, fish, eggs, nuts, wholegrain bread, rice and pasta."
Dairy Australia dietitian Glenys Kerrins agrees: "It is important to offer children foods that are packed with the nutrients they need to grow and stay healthy rather than less nutritious foods that provide calories but few nutrients."
"Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yoghurt are packed with 10 essential nutrients children need everyday to promote growth and development," Ms Kerrins said.
The most recent National Nutrition Survey highlighted the need to encourage children to eat a more varied and healthy diet. Of particular concern was the fact that the majority of Australian children are not getting enough calcium.
"The school years are a critical time for building peak bone mass. Including three serves of dairy every day will ensure children get the calcium they need for healthy bones and teeth," Ms Kerrins said.
A serve of dairy is a cup of milk, a tub of yoghurt or 2 slices (40 g) of cheese. Here are some great lunch box ideas that can help children get their three serves of dairy every day:
- Freeze flavoured milk or yoghurt the night before. This will not only keep the rest of the lunchbox cool but also makes a yummy treat;
- Include cheese portions with dried fruit and biscuits;
- Yoghurt and muesli mix;
- Cut the crusts off a slice of bread, spread some light cream cheese and top with sliced ham and a cheese stick, roll up firmly to create delicious Cheesy Roll Arounds;
- Savoury cheese muffins make a great alternative to sandwiches;
- Sandwich dried apricots together with spreadable cream cheese;
- Spread pita bread with hummus, grated carrot, lettuce, tomato and grated cheddar cheese and roll up into a wrap.
|For some inspiration and practical help in combining great taste and good nutrition for kids, see Kids Recipes.|
(Source: Dairy Australia: January 2010)