Childhood is a very critical stage of growth and proper nutrition is essential for growth. Children who do not get enough nutrition may be prone to illnesses such as obesity. The human body needs to be filled with water, protein, vitamin, fiber, good fats, iron etc.
Although children may be picky and quite difficult with eating healthy food, you need to teach them to practice a healthy lifestyle from an early age. Do not bribe your kids into eating a healthy meal by offering chocolate or sweets, it just as bad as letting them eat junk food anyway.
A big concern for some parents is ‘is my child eating the food I packed for him? Or is he throwing it away and buying unhealthy snacks? Well, if your child is in public school that is on the government feeding scheme, you don’t need to worry much. The government feeding scheme fulfills at least 30% of the daily need of learner per meal. The meals comprise of:
- Protein: Vegetables (soya, dried beans, butternut, lentil) animal protein (milk, eggs and fish)
- Starch: Maize meal, samp, mealie rice, rice and potatoes
- Vegetables: At least one green, one red, one, yellow/orange per meal
- Fats and oils used in moderation
- Salt and seasoning used in moderation.
But what if you child doesn’t go to a school that doesn’t provide such a nutritional meal plan? Well it’s actually up to you as a parent to make sure their lunch box is filled with yummy and nutritional meals. Make sure you provide meals that they will actually eat. Try preparing the meals with your child, their involvement in the whole food making process will create some excitement for them. Read the following lunch box tips:
- Mix it around (brown bread, white bread, wrap, rolls, pitta)
- Keep them fuller for longer
- Less spread
- Cut back on fat (fatty meat, cheese)
- Cut fizzy drinks
- Include greens
- Cut down on crisps
- Add fruit (fruit juice doesn’t count as fruit)
- Include low sugar and fat
Why should children follow a healthy diet?
- Risk of obesity: Poor nutrition is a huge cause for obesity. Eating junk food and not exercising may lead to your child developing obesity. If your child ends up with obesity, they may become very insecure with a very low self-esteem.
- Mental and emotional health problems: Children with a poor nutrition may suffer from psychological problems such as anxiety or learning disabilities. Poor nutrition will also affect children’s ability to develop properly.
- Education: Data taken from The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed children with poor nutrition are more likely to miss days of school and be required to repeat grades.
- Illness: Poor nutrition and obesity have the potential to result in many long-term, chronic illnesses
Lunch box ideas for your kids:
|Monday||Tomato and cheese sandwich||Apple||500ml water|
|Tuesday||Tuna and tomato sandwich||Nuts||Fruit juice|
|Wednesday||Avocado, chicken, lettuce and mayo wrap||Banana||Fruit juice|
|Thursday||Beef strips and avocado pitta||Yoghurt||water|
|Friday||Homemade healthy burger: tomato, lettuce, cucumber, avocado and patty.||Protein bar||water|