A healthy lunchbox is a veggie lunchbox! Get the balance right by including a wide range of plant-based foods... think wholegrains, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), fresh fruit and veg, nuts and seeds. All of these foods can protect your health.
Ditch white bread and crisps and switch to wholemeal bread sandwiches, wraps or pitta bread pockets filled with:
- bean or mushroom patè
- smoked tofu
- nut butter (cashew, almond or peanut)
- hummus (chickpea dip)
- spicy kidney beans
- falafel (savoury rissoles made from chickpeas)
- avocado and walnut
- leftover nut loaf, sliced
These tasty fillings provide:
minerals, including calcium, zinc and iron - nutrients important for growth and development
Boost the vitamin content by adding any of the following:
- shredded lettuce and other salad leaves such as rocket, baby spinach or watercress
- sliced cucumber
- sliced tomatoes
- grated carrot
- thinly sliced peppers
- coleslaw made with dairy-free mayonnaise (such as Plamil brand, available from special foods section in large supermarkets and health food shops)
- fresh parsley, coriander or chives
These additions provide:
antioxidant vitamins A, C and E
These nutrients help protect health and fight off illnesses and disease.
Other tasty snacks to boost the nutritional value include:
- Vegetable sticks: carrot, cucumber, celery, baby corn, pepper etc
- A handful of cherry tomatoes
- Dried fruits: mini-boxes of raisins or packets of apricots
- Mixed unsalted nuts and seeds: cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts with sunflower and pumpkin seeds
- Fresh fruit: apple, orange, grapes, apricots, plums, pomegranate... be adventurous!
It's very important to keep fluid levels up - secondary schools in particular don't always provide drinking fountains. Too many sugary/fizzy drinks can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. Water is best, but home-made fruit smoothies or unsweetened fruit juice are good alternatives.
Not only will a nutritious meal help concentration, but it also offers protection from disease, both now and in adulthood.
Foods to avoid
Baddies such as crisps, cakes, biscuits and chocolate bars all too often make up a lunchbox. This is part of the reason why today's children are so unhealthy. Leave out animal and animal-based foods such as red meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products, too.
These foods are high in:
These foods are also linked with obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.