Cancer Council is lifting the lid on Queensland lunchboxes as parents prepare to send kids back to school, with research showing many packed lunches are alarmingly low on veggies.
The Council is calling on parents to plan ahead for their child’s daily health and wellbeing. Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift says many lunchboxes contain the recommended serves of fruit for a child’s diet, but not enough vegetables.
“We understand the time, financial, emotional and practical pressures on Queensland parents that can make balancing the weekday lunchbox a difficult task,” Clift says.
“A few simple changes can make all the difference to the daily health and wellbeing of our children – and start positive habits that ensure great health in the long-term.
“Swapping out packaged snacks, often high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, for an apple, banana, carrot or celery is easy – and takes the same amount of time to prepare.
“A balanced lunchbox should contain one serve of lean protein, wholegrains (like bread, wraps, rice and muesli), one or two pieces of fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy and plenty of water to keep kids hydrated.
“The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend four and a half serves of vegetables daily for children aged four to eight, and five serves a day for children aged nine to 11.
“Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrot sticks and a healthy dip, celery or a small salad are quick, easy and healthy veggie options for the everyday lunchbox.”
Parents are encouraged to use the Health Star Rating Scheme when shopping to ensure any packaged goods placed in a lunchbox are the healthiest possible.
Meanwhile, the Dietitians Association of Australia is asking parents to look at snacks after school – citing Australian data that suggests children aren’t meeting their quotas for certain vitamins and minerals.
“Most parents will be all too familiar with fruit squashed at the bottom of bags, yoghurt needing to be kept cool, and nuts not being allowed at school (despite being a great source of fibre, energy, good fats, vitamins and minerals),” says DAA spokesperson Natasha Murray.
“So at home, get creative with the very foods that prove difficult to pack into a lunchbox.”