What's The Formula For The Perfect Lunchbox? We Asked Nutritionists And A Dietician

Making lunchboxes for your kids is hardly the highlight of your day, so ensuring they’re nutritious and interesting on top of that isn’t the easiest job. Back in 2016, a survey by BBC Good Food revealed more than a third of parents (36%) don’t know the NHS guidelines for a healthy packed lunch. Dietitian Susie Burrell, from Australia, recently shared a five-step guide of what to include: 1) sandwich, wrap or salad, 2) fresh fruit, 3) veggies, 4) protein rich snack and 5) water. So we decided to ask two nutritionists and a dietician what their perfect “lunchbox formula” would be. Obviously, time is a factor for many parents, so rather than giving you extra things to think about, this is more about basic guidelines you can follow. Charlotte Stirling-Reed, nutritionist and owner of SR Nutrition said balance is key in ensuring your kids get everything they need at lunch: “plenty of energy, fibre, protein and vitamins and minerals too.” She said it’s a good idea that a child’s packed lunch contains each of the following for them to eat throughout the day: “Make sure you check if your child’s school has any specific policies on what should and shouldn’t be brought in a packed lunch too,” she adds. 2. “The most impost focus is getting good sources of protein and carbohydrates.” Will Hawkins, a nutritionist at online GP service Push Doctor, agreed with Burrell’s formula. He said getting one to two good sources of protein and carbohydrates should be the base of your child’s lunchbox. “Vitamins, minerals and healthy fats will follow,” he says. Hawkins says: As a side note, Hawkins said parents should bear in mind the source and quality of your protein. “Processed chicken or ham slices, for example, can be very high in salt and are often stripped of other nutrients during processing,” he says. “Be careful with pre-packaged sandwich fillers too. These can be full of artificial preservatives and salt.” 3. “Get your child involved in preparing and choosing what goes in their lunchbox.” Dietician Elaine Allerton believes getting kids involved with what goes into their lunchbox could mean they’re more likely to eat it all. Allerton’s formula was very similar to Burrell’s. She says to check your child’s lunchbox includes: “Crisps, chocolate, sweets and sugar-sweetened drinks should not go in lunchboxes,” she adds. Tips on getting kids eating all their food at lunch: Stirling-Reed offered her advice on ensuring your kids eat everything at lunchtime: Dieticians are health professionals that assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems, although they do work with healthy people, too. Nutritionists are qualified to provide information about food and healthy eating. The dietician and nutritionists in this article were registered with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC), the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) and the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register (SENr). For advice on healthy snacks and foods for kids, visit the Change4Life website. 

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