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A Healthy Start to Back To School

A Healthy Start to Back To School

School is just around the corner, and with it comes the stress of preparing a snack and lunch for your kid every day.

It can get pretty hard to come up with ideas if you are one of those parents who wants to move beyond the Oreos and packaged foods, and actually look out for your child’s health while preparing something they will love. Exposing them to healthy foods from an early age will help them develop healthy habits and making them aware of the importance of maintaining a balanced and varied diet.

Picky eating is very common in children, but it can be prevented by exposing them to multiple foods, they might be a bit angry at first, but they will end up compromise if you stay firm.

Lots of children in Ireland (about 1 in 5) are overweight. Many parents don’t know that their child is carrying too much weight. For most children, if they eat more food than their body needs for growth and activity they will gain extra weight. Being overweight as a child can cause health problems later in life.

As parents, we want what’s best for our kids, but it can get pretty hard to give them the right amount of energy, protein and other nutrients. In most cases, our busy everyday life often gets in the way of making healthy changes. It’s not about being perfect. It's about starting with a change, sticking with it and getting a small daily win. The good habits that our children learn in the home will stay with them for life.

Making small changes to your children's diet and activity could make big differences in their future health. If you’re regularly active and eating healthily, it’s also more likely that your children will do so too.

That’s why we came up with some healthy snack and lunchboxes ideas:

The importance of healthy snacks

Snacks have a bad reputation, they are always associated with delicious, unhealthy food, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Snacks are the perfect way to help keep up your children’s energy levels between meals, while providing them with essential nutrients.

Here are some quick snack ideas so you can get on with your day too.

For a light snack

  • A Fruit
  • Vegetable sticks
  • A small pot of yoghurt
  • A glass of milk
  • 2-3 crackers / 1-2 oatcakes / 2 rice cakes /1-2 breadsticks
  • A small handful of nuts and seeds

Did you know?

Walnuts are the top nut for brain health. They have a significantly high concentration of DHA, a type of Omega-3 fatty acid. Among other things, DHA has been shown to protect brain health in new-borns, improve cognitive performance in adults, and prevent or ameliorate age-related cognitive decline. One study even shows that mothers who get enough DHA have smarter kids. Just a quarter cup of walnuts provides nearly 100% of the recommended daily intake of DHA.

Additional research has found that people with walnuts and walnut oil in their diets have lower resting blood pressure as well as lower blood pressure responses to stress in the laboratory.

That means they are exclusively an awesome food choice for adults, but it also benefits your kid’s school performance and correct brain development.

Check out our Linwood’s Flax, Almonds, Brazils & Walnuts mix, with the recommended daily amount of Magnesium and Selenium, along with the Coenzyme Q10, an important vitamin-like substance required for the proper function of many organs and chemical reactions in the body as well as helping provide energy to cells.

For a more filling snack

  • One slice of wholemeal toast with some mashed / chopped banana
  • A cheese, tomato and avocado sandwich using one slice of bread. You could add some sliced cucumber and make a toasty sandwich
  • Cheese with 2 or 3 crackers or breadsticks.
  • Hummus with vegetable sticks
  • One rice cake topped with cream cheese and a sliced tomato

Snack recommendations

Choosing the right snacks can get really challenging, shelves are full of processed and chemical-filled products, that’s why we want to make it easier for you by making yet another list of our favourite snacks.

  • Meridian – Rich Roast Smooth Peanut Butter; Perfect to spread on toast, rice cakes or porridge to provide them the necessary essential fats and protein in---- a delicious way
  • Organix – Flavoured Rice Cakes; A low-fat snack, high fibre snack, perfect to carry various toppings to make them tastier.
  • Eat Real – Organic Veggie Straws; The ideal alternative instead of chips, with lower fat than standard chips, without gluten or lactose.
  • Kids Good Stuff – Chocolate Protein; Filled with protein and probiotics, infinite ways to prepare it, in a smoothie, porridge, cookies or cake.

The importance of a healthy lunch

It can be challenging to create a healthy and interesting lunch that children will enjoy in school. Lunches provide around one-third of our daily nutritional needs, so it’s important to put some thought and planning into them.

That’s why we advocate for a wide variety of foods – fruit and vegetables, starchy foods, protein and dairy. Fluids are important for children – up to 6 cups of fluid should be encouraged daily.

It might seem hard for your children to enjoy all these changes in their diet, that’s why getting them involved in packing their lunch is a great idea. Let them choose at least one ingredient of their pack, as well as their bottle and their lunchbox, you can even help them decorate it as it will help them be more disposed to eating it.

Ireland’s Health Services have a fantastic guide for all parents to help them in packing a healthy lunch, you can click here to open the PDF.

Veggies, salads and fruits (At least 1 portion per lunch)

  • 1 medium apple, orange, banana, pear or similar size fruit
  • 2 small fruits – plums, kiwis or similar size fruit
  • 1 small salad (for example, dessert bowl sized salad of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and celery sticks)
  • 3 tablespoons or 4 dessertspoons of vegetables (for example, chopped or grated carrots)
  • A bowl of homemade vegetable soup in a thermos flask for older children

Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and nuts (Protein source for development)

  • 2 slices (50–75g) of cooked meat
  • 1–2 eggs (hard-boiled, sliced or mashed)
  • 4 tablespoons of hummus - try out as a dip with carrots or celery

Wholemeal cereals and breads, potatoes, pasta and rice (Carbs for energy)

  • 2 thin slices of wholemeal bread
  • 1 small bread roll
  • 1 tortilla wrap
  • 1 pitta bread
  • 4–6 crackers or breadsticks
  • 1 cup of cooked rice, pasta or couscous
  • 1 small bagel

Milk, yoghurt and cheese (Calcium for correct bone development)

  • 1 glass or mini-carton of milk (200ml)
  • A pot of natural or low-fat yoghurt (125ml) or custard
  • 2 cheese triangles
  • 2 thumbs (25g) of cheese such as cheddar, edam or gouda varieties

Make the change

Remember we all start somewhere, adapting to a whole new lifestyle won’t be easy at first but it will be worth it. It might take some time for you or your kids to adapt to it, that why starting slow is key, making one change at a time is key, start by reducing processed foods at breakfast, then cut sodas at lunch, then you might add 25 minutes of exercise a day, it will all add up.

Involve your children, make it a whole family thing, that way they won’t feel like it’s a punishment.

Be consistent and stick with it, remember, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Changes don’t happen instantly, it will take time, but nothing worth having comes easy.

That’s why we are offering a 10% discount with the code BACK2SCHOOL in all our website, so we can make this change easier for you.

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