Dear mummies and daddies, it’s that time of the year when boys and girls are done with the holidays and can’t wait to get back to school.
With the new books, shiny shoes and awesome hairstyle, the little ones are eager to return to class. But the most exciting part of their return for them is definitely the pink and blue packed lunches.
This is more than just tea break; it’s a time to reconnect, to share and to show off in the sweetest way what mummy packed for lunch. Unfortunately, half of what the children munch on is unhealthy, empty calories that rob the children of nutrients that they need to grow well.
All there is are crisps with lots of salt, sodas loaded with calories and less than 100 per cent juices preserved with additives, which all are harmful to the kids’ health. By the end of the school year, the child would probably have to remove 2 teeth, visit the doctor with tummy aches and miss days and days of school.
It does not stop here though; the food which they pack disturbs their psychosocial development making it very hard for them to retain knowledge of what they learn in school thus having poor grades by the end of the school term.
Nutrition plays a very vital role in the growth of the children, providing them with a healthy foundation to help them succeed in school and become healthy adults.
Taking time to purchase good and healthy foods will ensure that children grow and eat that which will benefit their bodies. Behavior and academic performance are significantly affected by the quantity and quality of the foods provided as packed lunches.
A common packed lunch for a grade 5 student commonly is that of soda with caffeine that causes irregular heartbeats and eats away the calcium in the body which is needed for strong bones and teeth and later would cause arthritis, crisps and fries that are soaked in salt and flavorings that make one hypertensive and chocolate for desert which is rich in calories. If not, the child is given money to buy a fat cake and drink by the tuckshop, or hot dogs topped with rich sauces that are irritable to the developing stomachs. Sugar, which is the culprit of all foods, is a child’s best friend. Its sweetness is impossible to stay away from. Wrapped in candies of different colours, it becomes next to impossible not to nibble on sugar. It has become a drug that kids thrive on, and can feed on it for hours.
This unfortunately is a gateway for weight gain and obesity and diabetes. All these unhealthy foods become a silent but powerful foundation for lifestyle diseases later on in life.
Additives that are used to preserve the `junk food’ are detrimental to brain development, a sensitive organ that depends on food for growth and if not taken care of, could easily have deficiencies. Children are prone to have attention disorders or have a late development, therefore, falling behind in their academic work. These have long time negative effects that are irreversible and these include stunting and malnourished children.
Kids’ brains are high-performance engines, and if we want them to do their best in school, we need to provide them with clean, high-quality fuel. For growing children, this means a balanced diet of delicious whole foods, grown in a nutrition-enhancing way without toxic pesticides, and prepared in an appealing manner that also preserves nutrients.
But how then can a child have a perfect packed lunch, healthy, fresh and wow to look at?
Well this definitely becomes a challenge but later becomes a lifestyle. It is all about understanding the beauty of life and preserving that of your child`s with optimum nutrition. It does not have to be a cup of rice and stew with salad. The food can be healthy and look attractive, living the child with a feeling of satiety.
Kids need more than isolated, individual nutrients to boost their brains and school performance. There are big-picture benefits to eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fiber.
Foods rich in fiber, proteins and adequate carbohydrates are so helpful in maintaining the integrity of the body. Such foods are a great source of energy, build body tissues and replace dead cells. Vitamins and minerals in fruits and veggies contain phytochemicals that fight diseases and antioxidants that remove toxins that kids are exposed to everyday.
Water also, clean and not diluted with juices, hydrate the body and keeps the body temperatures intact. All these work together to better the child’s health and wellbeing, extra points if they are organically produced. It could easily be a toasted sandwich with tomatoes and cucumber, vegetables shaped in sticks shaped in stars and fruit salads. It is all a matter of finding a perfect balance when shopping and preparing foods.
Creating packed lunches could be a fun and awesome hobby for both you and your kids, making them help you in pureeing fruits to make wholesome sugar free juices and funny face muffins.
You could all try different flavors’ of nuts and dried fruits, start an adventure that will all benefit the family.
Why not try to give your child the best 2012 ever, a healthy and life giving gift!