Nutritionist shares what should really go in your child's lunchbox - and snacks to swap

It’s no secret that being a parent is a full-time job and there‘s only so much you can get done each day.

You’ve got tiny people to keep alive, you’ve got to make sure they are washed, dressed, fed and all prepared for whatever is going on in their day as well as your own.

So when it comes to packing lunchboxes for school, you might not have the time to come up with ideas for the healthiest options and instead grab whatever you’ve got in the house.

But if you’re looking to change up your little one’s lunch, we’ve got some top tips for you courtesy of Louise Mason, a Nutritional Therapist and Naturopath at Optibac Probiotics.

Louise has shared her thoughts on the ideal items parents should pack in their child’s lunchbox and also suggested some healthier alternatives to popular break time and after school snacks.

© Getty Images/iStockphoto Two kids sitting on a bench at school eating packed lunch

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She told The Mirror: “To ensure they get their 5-a-day, a really easy to eat (and make!) snack is hummus with some chopped carrots, cucumber and celery. What’s more is that it’s full of protein to help keep them going.

“To top this up, I would always include seasonal fresh fruit which can be cut up and popped into different tubs/baggies. Not only will this help to retain their attention, but introduces variety to their meal.

“Remember you want to be ‘eating the rainbow’ with your fruit and vegetable selections weekly.

“Another good protein option is boiled eggs and if they eat meat, I would include some good quality chicken slices as an option or falafels for vegetarians and vegans. And to get their carb fix, I would also add in oat cakes into their lunchbox too, or a good quality sourdough bread or wrap with no added emulsifiers and palm oils.”

The expert continued: “For an added treat I would pop in an ‘Kids Gummies ’ by Optibac Probiotics which are delicious, nutritious and look like sweets! This means the kids can enjoy them whilst feeding their microbiome and helping to support their immune system, perfect for school where colds and bugs will likely be going around.”

And when it comes to the snacks they enjoy at break times and after school, Louise recommends having a go at making them some homemade energy balls.

She explains: “Homemade energy balls which are packed with proteins and healthy fats are the perfect break time or after school snack and they are so easy to make. They are also quick to eat so children don’t miss out on playtime!

“Making them together after school for the next day can be a great activity for all the family and it encourages children to try new food combinations and them to help with the meal prep!

“There are shop-bought ones available too, just check that they are not high in sugar because this can really disrupt the gut microbiome.”

She adds: “Smoothies are a great snack when kids are home from school and can be a great way of getting children to eat more vegetables. Spinach, cooked butternut squash or sweet potato and avocados can be whizzed up easily with fruit and your choice of milk or coconut water, topped off with some flaxseeds.

“Again, this is perfect for getting your children involved. The smoothie mixture can also be added to lolly moulds and frozen for an instant (and slightly more fun looking) treat.

Parents can get really inventive with snacks, and I’d really encourage it! For example, a sliced apple sandwiched with nut butter makes a healthy version of a Jammie Dodger.”

Common snacks to swap

Crisps – stick to fruit or if they’re going to eat crisps, try veggie crisps, veggie sticks or lentil crisps instead which don’t have flavourings or flavour enhancers.

Chocolate bars – Swap chocolate bars for energy balls or a couple of squares of good quality dark chocolate.

Ice creams – Ditch regular ice cream and try making your own with added seasonal fruit or even basil flavoured, which is surprisingly delicious! Or perhaps try frozen yoghurt by freezing Greek yoghurt and adding honey.

Do you have a parenting story to share? We want to hear all about it. Email us at yourmirror@mirror.co.uk and join our parenting family over at Mirror Mums.

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