One of the best ways to help your child to do well at school lies in their lunchbox according to new research. Not only do school food policies have an effect but healthier school lunches can improve performance. Read on to find out how Research Shows Lunchtime Can be Key to School Success:
Research about Children and Lunch at School
A new Food-PRICE study led by researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University showed that school food policies that seek to provide and/or encourage healthy food choices during the school day could have positive health effects in both the short- and long-term.
Meanwhile research from last year from the University of California at Berkeley showed that students who eat healthier school lunches achieve higher standardised test scores.
Childhood is a key time to develop attitudes toward food and nutrition and potentially lifelong eating habits.
As most Irish schools don’t provide lunch, it’s down to us parents to make sure our child’s lunch contains all they’ll need for a healthy diet.
The Irish Bread Bakers’ Association has teamed up with Dr Mary McCreery, consultant nutritionist and dietician, to create some healthy lunchbox suggestions. Things that are simple and easy for parents to make and, importantly, will meet with the approval of children.
Dr Mary McCreery defines a healthy diet as getting all the nutrients that the body requires in the amounts needed with not too little or too much of any one nutrient. “Children can consume over a third of their daily food during their school day so it’s a really important opportunity to develop positive attitudes towards food choices and nutrition that lead to life-long good eating habits,” she said.
You might also enjoy reading 11 Tried and Tested Lunch Box Recipes that Kids Love
Tips for Parents for Lunches
Dr McCreery offers the following tips to parents when it comes to school lunches:
- Set a good example by eating healthy foods yourself and make your own lunch at the same time so your child knows much you enjoy them.
- Introduce new foods without any special comment so your child can make their own mind up if they like them or not.
- Make sure the healthy foods are available. Try to offer different foods every day.
- Shopping in advance is the best way to ensure you have plenty of variety for the lunch boxes.
- Include a carbohydrate, a protein, dairy, fruit and veg.
- Educate your child that school means healthy eating and treats are for weekends and special occasions.
- Involve your child in the food shopping to encourage them (with the right guidance!) to pick healthy options for their school lunch. You might find our free lunch box ideas planner useful for this.
Three Tried and Tested Sandwich Ideas from Dr. Mary
#1. BLT Blast
- 2x slices 100% white bread
- 1x tablespoon light mayonnaise
- 2x grilled rashers
- 4x tomato slices
- Handful iceberg lettuce
Total energy content: 385kcals (19%RDI)
#2. Chicken Waldorf
- 2x slices of granary batch bread
- 2oz of chicken slices mixed with:
- ¼ apple
- ¼ celery stick
- A few chopped walnuts
- A few dried cranberries
- 1x tablespoon light mayonnaise
Total energy content: 469kcals (23%RDI)
#3. Good Old Ham & Cheese
- 2x slices wholemeal bread
- 2x teaspoons low fat butter
- 3x wafer thin slices ham (40gms)
- 1x slice cheese (22gms)
- Handful of iceberg lettuce
Total energy content: 340kcals (17%RDI)
You might also enjoy reading 100 Healthy Lunch Box Ideas Your Kids Will Love
Over to you now. What’s your take on the whole school lunch thing? Tell us in the comments below.