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Starting with small steps

Children spend one third of their day at school so their lunch box should include one third of their nutrient needs. The lunch box is a tool for setting up healthy eating habits for life, so it is really important to think about all the foods that are packed in the lunch box. Remember every little bit counts. Small steps can make a big difference.

  • Eating vegies through the day is the simplest way to reach the recommended number of serves. Include at least two serves in the lunch box, for example salad at lunch and some carrot sticks as a snack.
  • Snack time is a great time to include fruit and vegies in the lunch box, such as cherry tomatoes, celery sticks with cream cheese and sultanas, or salad vegies on crispbread.
  • Children need healthy snacks between main meals because they have small stomachs and require small amounts of food more frequently than adults.
  • Serve fruit and veg in different ways: chop fruit in to small pieces; serve raw vegie sticks with a veg or yoghurt-based dip; pack salad for lunch; or add fruit and veg to baked goods such as muffins or pikelets.
  • For small appetites or younger children, pack smaller serves, cut up sandwiches into quarters and chop up fruit.
  • Plant some vegies or herbs at home for kids to pick and pack in the lunch box.
  • It is ok to say “no” to requests for junk food such as lollies, chocolate, cakes, sweet biscuits, chips and juice poppers, in the lunch box. These foods are high in fat, sugar and salt. Eating too many of these foods leads to being overweight or obese. They also displace the healthy options that kids need to provide nutrients to learn and play at school. Try these healthy swaps.
  • Be a positive role model and eat fruit and veg in front of your kids. It will make them more likely to eat and enjoy fruit and veg too.
  • Don’t try too much at once – make one change and let your child get used to it before introducing other new items in the lunch box.
  • Try new foods at home after school before packing in the lunch box.
  • Kids need a serve of protein at lunch time so ensure you include lean meat, canned salmon or tuna, egg, beans, lentils, chickpeas or tofu.

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