Healthy Packed Lunches Tips for the New School Year

Step away from the usual fizzy drinks and boring sandwiches that you keep putting in your child’s packed lunch and take inspiration from the British Dietetic Association’s (BDA) infamous New School Year Resolution: Healthy Packed Lunches.

They have recently issued some quick and handy tips to create, not only healthy packed lunches, but packed lunches that are full of flavour and variety.

Rachel Cooke, British Dietetic Association Spokesperson and Bristol Healthy School Dietitian, said:

“What children eat at a young age has a massive impact on their eating habits for life, so it is essential we get the younger generation into choosing and enjoying healthy nutritious food.

“When putting together a packed lunch, it is so easy to go down the usual route of packets of salty savoury snacks crisps, bars of chocolate, fizzy drinks and the same old boring sandwich day after day.  Many adults wouldn’t accept eating the same things day in day out, so why should children?

“Packed lunches can be exciting and full of healthy options and variety.  They need to provide children with the energy
and sustenance they need to grow and develop healthily and help them to concentrate in the school class.”

The BDA Tips for a Healthy Packed Lunch:

Back to basics – bread, cereals and potatoes…
Try to keep a selection of breads in the freezer for sandwiches. Using a different type of bread each day can make
sandwiches more interesting. Try multigrain and seed rolls, bagels, baguettes, pitta breads, wraps…the list is endless! (Children have reported they like meat / cheese or fish etc and bread separate so it doesn’t go soggy)

You could also raid the fridge for leftovers – some foods taste just as good cold such as pizza or pasta. Cook extra pasta, couscous or rice. Mix it with cut-up vegetables, a few nuts flaked tuna or mackerel.

Filling the void – meat, fish and alternatives…
Try to include lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, beans or pulses in your 
lunchbox like
* Tuna with cucumber, green pepper, sweetcorn or tomato
* 
Low fat hummus and cucumber
* Egg and cress
* Cottage cheese and dried apricots
* 
Cooked chicken or turkey, tomatoes, and
lettuce
* 
Peanut butter and banana (my fav!)
* 
Grated cheese and tomato
* Oily fish, such as salmon sandwich or mackerel pasta salad

Remember, if you are using a spread choose a reduced fat one – or do without it completely if you are using a moist filling.

Vegging out or Feeling fruity..?
It’s important to eat 5 (or more) portions of fruit and vegetables every day. You won’t be stuck for choice when it comes to lunchtime:

* fresh fruit e.g. apple, grapes, banana, kiwi fruit (children have also said they like different fruits every day and not
always the traditional choices e.g.. wedge of  melon / peeled orange / kiwi and spoon / pot of strawberries. Why not
surprise your child with a different fruit / veg choice every day of the week?)
* 
dried fruits, e.g. raisins, apricots
* chopped raw vegetables e.g. carrot sticks, cherry tomatoes or a mixed salad
* tinned fruit in natural juice – pop in a small container or buy small tins with a ring pull

Dairy delights…
Try to include some dairy products in your lunchbox – important to keep your teeth healthy and your bones strong (remember to look at sugar levels – 5g equals about one teaspoon):
* low fat yogurt – plain or fruit flavoured
* low fat fromage frais
* small pot of rice pudding or custard
* 
Milk / fruit-based milkshakes

 Tasty treats…
Fancy something sweet in your lunch-box? There’s nothing wrong with this. Just try and make healthier choices when you can:
* currant bun, scone or fruit loaf,
* plain popcorn
* cereal bar (remember to look at sugar levels)
* 
fun sized bar of chocolate

Put in a drink…
Choose from:
* 
Plain water (still or sparkling)
* Plain milk (skimmed or semi-skimmed) or plain yoghurt combined with fruit e.g. smoothies, pureed fruit with plain yoghurt
* Pure fruit juice in small cartons or in a small bottle
* Hot drinks in the winter, e.g. soups

Keep cool…
Use a cool bag and pop in an ice-pack or freeze a carton of juice and place in with food to keep cool
* 
Keep in the fridge until morning if you make it the night before
* Don’t store your lunch next to a radiator or in the sun

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Children’s Fitness Academy: Two thirds of obese children show early signs of heart disease

I found the news that two out of every three severely obese children already have at least one health problem that increases the risk of heart disease very sad today. Heart disease isn”t for kids…its for the elderly who have lived their lives to the full and unfortunately been struck down by this awful illness.

Basically be the age of 12, the study found that the kids had high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose.

 

The figures could mean that thousands of British children are also affected after experts here warned children as young as seven were being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity.

Just over half of these 307 children were boys. They tended to be more severely obese at the younger end of the age spectrum; the reverse was true of girls. So what can we do?

Starting heart-healthy habits right now, that’s what! Don’t smoke, for one. And be sure to eat healthy, exercise, and maintain a healthy weight. Your heart and blood vessels will thank you later!

Most kids don’t need to be on diets……but here’s something kids can do to eat healthier and that’s learn the difference between GoSlow, and Whoa foods.

Go Foods

These are foods that are good to eat almost anytime. They are the healthiest ones, like all fruits, vegetables, low fat diary, lean protein and water

Slow Foods

These are sometimes foods. They aren’t off-limits, but they shouldn’t be eaten every day. At most, eat them several times a week, like oven-baked chips, bread, hamburgers, popcorn and fruit juice.

Whoa Foods

These foods should make you say exactly that — Whoa! Should I eat that? Whoa foods are the least healthy and the most likely to cause weight problems, especially if a person eats them all the time. That’s why Whoa foods are once-in-a-while foods like sweets, fried foods, cheese, donuts, hot dogs, fizzy drinks and creamy sauces.

You also need to avoid anything with Trans Fats in…..they clog up your heart, as your body can’t process them! This kind of oil is used in crackers and snack foods, but it’s been found to be very unhealthy for your heart and can be listed on packaging as either Trans fats or Hydrogenated oils.  YUK!

 

Children’s Fitness Academy; Habits of Healthy Families. Lose fat, get fit!

Every wonder how families stay healthy, fit and thin? Well I have some answers for you! Notepads at the ready!!

Don’t go hungry – To stay at a healthy weight, you have to eat, not starve yourself. If you don’t fuel up regularly, you’ll become insatiably hungry, causing the hunger hormone, ghrelin, to spike. Keep healthy snacks around the house like almonds, chopped fruit and credites and don’t be surprised to see your kids nibbling on them throughout the day.

Make breakfast and lunch part of your day – Without a healthy go-to option for each, you’re far more likely to make bad spur-of-the-moment grabs. Starts the day with a bowl of oats with flaxseed oil, a few walnuts, and some raisins  for sweetness and make some soup for lunch. You can even ask your children to help you. You chop the ingredients up and then they whizz it up in the blender. Fun!! Serve with a wedge of crusty wholemeal bread!

Exercise 20 minutes a day—at home –  You don’t have to go somewhere to exercise, and making your way to the gym is just too time consuming! 20 minutes at home is simple; skip in your back garden, and alternate with crunches and push-ups; or do 20 minutes of a workout video; there are loads to choose from!

Be the food decider in your house – I know this can be tough for parents, but the big decisions about what to eat must be made by you at the supermarket; If you bring crisps and chocolate home, your kids (and you) will naturally want to eat them. Keep healthy snacks on hand (like nuts and pretzels) and fruit and veggies washed and chopped in your fridge. Kids will eat healthy snacks when they get hungry enough!

Tips for kids’ healthy eating

Serving children healthy food is often VERY hard work! I don’t know about you but I feel I am constantly surrounded my sweets and crisps, which is not good for my sweet tooth!

To get your children eating healthily and to make your lives a little easier, I have out some tips together.  Yum! 

* LET children join in the planning of meals. Agree on a menu for the week and stick with it.

* Serve one meal for all the family. This will help to stop picky eating, although you need to be prepared for rebellion for a while.

* Make a sticker chart so kids can enjoy reaching healthy-eating goals, like eating five servings of fruit and veg for the day.

* If children turn their noses up at new foods, keep trying. It can take over ten attempts for some to accept a new vegetable.

* Canned fruits still count towards your five a day. Peaches, mangoes and tangerines in fruit juice are great added to jellies, yogurts and smoothies.

* Some children find the taste of broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower and watercress too bitter. Try others like squash, peas or sweet potato instead.

Kids fitness academy; Want your kids to eat well….how’s how you can do it!

  1. Lead by example – eat vegetables in front of your children and encourage them to follow your lead. My parents always did this and we have only just recently discovered that all my family aren’t fans of butter beans including my parents – but they used to eat them to encourage myself and my brother and sister to eat a mixture of vegetables.
  2. Find a role model – find out who your children are inspired by and refer to those heroes as being big fruit and vegetable eaters. For me I always remember the Green Giant and Popeye as eating Sweet corn and spinach and I wanted to grow up to be big and strong just like them
  3. Communicate with your child – explain why it’s important to eat your 5- a day to help them really understand how a balanced diet affects mood, body and performance. It’s not just vitamins and minerals that are important but it’s about looking after your whole body from the inside out. Vegetables are good cleansers and good fillers. They also help you control your energy levels which is good for the whole family to get the right highs and lows at the right time
  4. Encourage inquisitiveness – inspire your children to try new types of vegetables. Vegetables come in many different shapes, sizes and colours now and are much more interesting that when I was a child. I remember that as a child my mother would take us around the supermarket and ask us to identify the vegetables to keep us interested. It was considered a game but it was really very clever. I was always fascinated with the purple vegetables
  5. Experiment with taste and texture – fresh raw vegetables taste different to cooked vegetables. Just because they don’t like cooked vegetables doesn’t mean they won’t eat them raw
  6. Get children involved – you don’t have to start with cooking.  Why not  go back to the field and ‘pick your own’ to encourage them to cook and prepare the meals with you
  7. Be portion savvy – present vegetables in bite sized portions.  By putting 10 small bite sized pieces of vegetable on a child’s plate it is less daunting than a heap which could put them off
  8. Remember you are the adult – encourage choice but at the end of the day you are in charge and need to make sure your children eat the right mix of foods. Use the tactics to encourage them to eat well and live a long healthy life

How your children can maintain their energy levels throughout the day….

Kids are funny. They have loads of energy but just when you think they can’t go any more they crash and burn – the thing is you want them to have a consistent surge of energy not a rollercoaster of energy and slumps. To make this work you need to;

1. Always eat breakfast. Include a slow burning starchy food like oats or rye bread, and a source of protein such as yogurt or eggs.

2. Plan a mid-morning snack, such as 2 oatcakes with 2 tsp of hummus or nut butter or some fruit.

3. Don’t leave lunch too late; before 2pm is a good idea. Never leave more than 4 hours between meals or snacks to keep your energy levels up. This is easy when they are at school but remember this at weekends!

4. Include a wholegrain starchy food in their lunch such as wholegrain bread, brown rice, quinoa or couscous. These foods are high in B vitamins, needed to make energy.

5. Eat more foods containing magnesium, also needed to make energy. Magnesium is found in wholegrains (see above), nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and green leafy vegetables such as broccoli.

6. Plan a after school snack to prevent the common 4pm energy slump. A piece of fruit with  8-10 nuts is ideal. Or try a raw food bar, such as a Nak’d bar or 9 Bar.

7. Only have foods high in sugar, eg cakes, biscuits, chocolate, pastries, as an occasional treat. sugar gives a short term energy boost but may be damaging in excess (to your waistline too!).

9. Take regular exercise like my fitness classes!

10. Drink around 1.5 to 2 litres of water, about 6-8 glasses spread throughout the day. Being dehydrated may contribute to fatigue.