Parents should not underestimate the benefits of a healthy meal; “ Nutrition is key to learning, it provides learners with the energy to engage in school activities,” says Lynne Arbuckle, primary school principal of Burgundy Estate’s Riverside College.
To create awareness around School Health Week, which took place nationally from 4 to 8 March, Riverside College planned a number of activities to ensure learners actively engage in a healthy week.
“By teaching healthy eating habits from a young age, you’ll improve your child’s health in the long run; most lifestyle behaviours develop during childhood,” says Arbuckle. “With a bit of effort and preparation, lunchbox snacks can be fun, delicious and healthy.”
“While families may serve healthy meals at home, school lunch boxes are often filled with junk food such as chips and chocolate. It’s important to ensure your child has access to a varied, balanced diet throughout the day,” says Arbuckle. “Lunch provides one third of your child’s daily energy intake; a nutritious meal is crucial in assisting with concentration levels in the classroom.”
Not only do ‘junk foods’ lack brain-boosting vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, but they can also reduce the body’s intake of nutrients, effecting concentration levels. An Oxford University study revealed that too much processed food can lead to bad behaviour and learning difficulties. Eating a varied and balanced diet on the other hand has proven to assist primary school children with better classroom performance, as well as improving self-esteem and interaction with peers.
Healthy lunchbox tips:
- Swap white sliced bread for low GI or whole wheat
- Omega-3’s are great brain food – e.g. salmon, walnuts or kiwi fruit
- Try food pairing, such as cherry tomatoes with cheese cubes
- Pack a small tub of yogurt for calcium
- Cut fruit and vegetables into fun shapes – think carrot sticks and cucumber wedges
- Last night’s leftovers are a healthy option over another sandwich
- Pack water, not juice – if your child is reluctant, try diluting the juice
- Oat crunchies are delicious and healthy, plus you can make them yourself!
- Boiled eggs and biltong are easy to pack and are a good source of protein