We all know how important it is to make ‘healthy choices’ for ourselves and our kids. The trouble is, making good food choices becomes a lot harder as children grow.
Introducing kids to healthier lunch box treats
Research has shown that children’s diet quality decreases as they move from toddlers to teen. Specifically, it’s been found that snacking habits take a nosedive as kids become older and more independent. While younger children have their snacks chosen for them, older kids are more likely to make their own (unhealthy) choices.
However, the advice is clear: teach good eating habits in children while they’re small and you will set them up for a lifetime of healthy food choices. The key is to encourage snacks that are ‘nutrient rich, rather than calorie dense’.
So what do you when your child is begging you for something sweet and tasty? Dr Sally Norton guides us through her pick of the healthier lunch box treats on the market:
1. Nakd bars
A favourite with adults, they’re just as popular with the next generation. Skip sugar-packed cake and cereal bars and pop one of these in their lunchbox instead.
These rolls look like sweets, but are made of dried fruit and a little veg, gently baked. They contain no added sugar and count as one of their 7 a day. While you do still need to be careful of sugar intake (even from fruit-based foods), these healthier lunch box treats are a better choice than additive packed sweets. They also come with collectable cards in each pack that will test their brains too.
3. Nut butters
As long as your little ones aren’t allergic, nut butters are a great savoury snack. The high protein hit will keep them fuller for longer. Cashew is the sweetest, child-friendly variety we’ve tried – but let your brood find their own favourite. Then simply try a variety of ‘vehicles’ for your butter of choice – try a teaspoon of nut butter between two apple wedges, or spread on some oatcakes.
4. Root veg crisps
Forget the salt-laden shop bought variety; you can make these veggie crisps at home and get your youngsters busy in the kitchen too. Simply thinly slice a selection of root veg – carrots, parsnips, beetroots, sweet potatoes are all great – then get the kids to toss them in a little olive oil (you want them just coated, not greasy!). Cook in a preheated 200 degree C oven for 15-25mins until golden.
Final word: Children who eat fruit, veg, oily fish and wholegrain all high in nutrients and low in salt, sugar and processed foods tend to have better behaviour, less risk of obesity and other illnesses, and so have a rosier future ahead.
What we feed our children can either boost or damage their health – it’s our choice, so we better make it a good one.