7 Important Vitamins on your Youngster’s Lunchbox

7 Essential Nutrients for your Child’s Lunchbox_1

When it comes to school lunches, we're all in trouble, but they're worth our attention. Good nutrition helps our children focus, perform at their best, and regulate their moods. Children go through strong physical and mental growth, which means that their nutritional needs are obviously significant. It doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes just is best (see “Back to Basics” below).

Poor diet can lead not only to weight problems (overweight or underweight) but also to some diseases associated with malnutrition (contrary to popular belief, this is not always limited to lower income classes).

An especially fussy child with a restricted palate may have a lower immune system and be prone to recurring infections, especially in winter. When it comes to improving the quality of your lunch boxes, try not to be overwhelmed or overly negative. All it takes is a little inspiration to get back on track. The aim is to provide unprocessed food in an appealing way and not take too much preparation or time.

Good habits

But there is more to it than that. By giving them a healthy lunch, you can also instill a healthy mindset about food for them. As you provide your children with the good things, you will teach them about healthy eating and the importance of taking care of their bodies and brains throughout their lives.

Using the auto analogy usually works well (i.e. you wouldn't put poor quality gasoline in a sports car and expect it to run well, so the same goes for your body). Ideally, your day starts with a healthy, nutritious breakfast (and try to take the time to sit at the table and eat it) and that should continue with healthy lunches and dinners for the rest of the day.

We're not saying that everything has to be perfect. just good enough. And sometimes we could all raise the bar a little higher. That could simply mean adding more vegetables to your diet – even if that means "hiding" them for the fussy eaters. With a little planning, you can get all of the nutrients on the menu.

Back to the basics for nutrients

In terms of nutrients, it's good to remember what we're trying to put in your lunch box. The crucial ones are; Protein, carbohydrates, fats, calcium, iron, fiber, vitamin C and vitamin D..

1) protein: helps build muscles and other tissues. It helps them to strengthen their immune system and helps with feelings of satiety (especially important if your children are constantly hungry!).

Good sources: Fish, chicken, turkey, lean meat, nuts, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, peanut butter, and edamame beans.

2) carbohydrates: Children differ from us in that they are much more active (and grow rapidly), so if their weight is not an issue, it is good that carbohydrates make up a significant proportion of their total food intake. The important factor here is that the carbohydrates should come from good sources (i.e. those that won't starve you – read more here). Complex carbohydrates should make up the majority of a child's diet because they do not cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. They're also more nutrient-rich and provide important nutrients like fiber and B vitamins.

Good sources: Whole grain bread and crackers, popcorn, quinoa, or brown or wild rice. Limit refined grains like white bread, pasta, and rice (these simple carbohydrates cause rapid spikes in blood sugar and usually contain few beneficial nutrients).

3) Healthy fats: healthy fats are key to brain and nerve growth. They help with a healthy metabolism, blood clotting and absorption of some important vitamins. They also help stimulate a hormone that tells the body it's full and saturated, called leptin, so healthy fats can actually play an important role in weight management.

Good sources: Tuna, mackerel, salmon, trout, sardine, flax seeds, chia seeds (I sprinkle them on your porridge), walnuts, and leafy green vegetables like kale and Brussels sprouts.

4) calcium: is critical to the development and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

Good sources: Dairy products like milk and fortified soy milk, yogurt, cheese, tofu, sardines, and dry cereals. It is also found in lesser amounts in vegetables such as broccoli.

5) iron: Aids in the formation of red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body, and also aids in the growth of children (especially important during periods of accelerated growth).

Good sources: Beef, turkey, fish, beans, lentils, green leafy vegetables, and fortified breads and cereals.

6) Vitamin C: essential for healing and warding off infections; It also strengthens tissues, muscles, and skin.

Good sources: Oranges, kiwis, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, peppers, spinach and broccoli.

7) Vitamin D: This vitamin helps the body shape and maintain strong teeth and bones, and aids in the absorption of minerals such as calcium. It also plays an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system (read more here).

Good sources: fortified dairy products, grains and oily fish (such as salmon and sardines), and cod liver oil. Small amounts are also found in beef, liver, cheese, and egg yolks. Appropriate sun exposure is one of the best ways to get enough vitamin D, although it can be challenging in Ireland. For this reason, many parents are now advised to add fortified products (e.g., super milk) to their shopping carts.

Some (hopefully new) ideas

Make your choice:

  • Hummus or sun-dried tomato pesto dip with wholegrain pitta bread triangles and / or celery sticks or carrot sticks
  • Grapes with cheese cubes
  • Cucumber or bell pepper slices
  • Sliced ​​oranges
  • Dry grain
  • Ham or cheese quesadilla (still delicious served cold)
  • Guacamole or salsa with homemade tortilla chips (just fry dry and cut into triangles)
  • Strawberry and Pineapple Kebabs (i.e. fruit on a cocktail stick)
  • Apple rings (sprinkle with fresh lemon to avoid browning)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Low sugar muffins / cookies
  • pretzels
  • Savory chickpea pancakes
  • Quinoa or bulgur wheat with raisins and toasted pine nuts (unless your school is nut free, in which case use dried cranberries).
  • Whole wheat pasta salad (with crispy broccoli florets – just boil and then blanch in cold water)
  • Greek yogurt (less sugar and more protein than regular yogurt)
  • Homemade granola bars or motivational protein bars
  • Raspberry Coulis (my daughter mashes raspberries with a fork for a delicious raspberry coulis that can be sealed and eaten alone or added to yogurt – a much healthier alternative than yogurt with an added layer of fruit)
  • Almond or peanut butter wraps (if nuts are allowed)
  • Whole grain crackers with cheese
  • Homemade frozen yogurt (it can melt a little, but if sealed well it should stay fine until the little break.)
  • Bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese
  • Fresh pineapple pieces (served with a small fork)
  • Baby tomatoes
  • Edamame or sugar snap peas (they will have fun getting them out)
  • Vegetable spring rolls (still delicious served cold)
  • Falafel (handy and vegetarian, so ideal for lunch boxes)
  • Homemade soup (served in a thermos, for older children)
  • Sushi (if the budget allows)
  • Olives (not to every child's taste, but some love them!)
  • Vegetable frittata (https://motivation.ie/recipes/vegetable-frittata/

For more informations

Visit Safefood.ie

If you want your kids to be more involved in healthy eating, check out this great website for Printouts Download and hang up at home.

Click here to read our free “Healthy School Recipes” brochure.

It's packed with great advice and a selection of great recipes.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here