5 Easy ways to pack a heart healthy lunchbox

The Heart Foundation is on a mission to help parents and school kids prepare a healthy lunchbox, as 4 million Australian students head back to school.

In Australia, a quarter of all Australian kids aged 5 to 14 years are overweight. Additionally, many fail to meet the daily recommended servings of fruit, vegetables and legumes – foods that are essential to establishing healthy eating habits and reducing their future risk of heart disease.

Research also shows that kids are exposed to more than 15 junk food advertisements per hour when online, making it tough for parents to reinforce healthy eating.

Tips such as making sandwiches with one slice of white bread and one slice of wholemeal bread can help to introduce healthier eating habits to students, keeping them fuller for longer and helping to reduce obesity rates.

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Healthy lunchbox lifesavers

  1. Eat the rainbow: Eat a variety of vegetable and fruit colours for maximum nutritional value.
  2. Make a zebra sandwich: Combine one slice of healthy bread with one slice of white bread to transition to a wholegrain based sandwich.
  3. Ensure food is easy for little fingers to eat: Smaller sizes are easier to eat and give a sense of achievement.
  4. Prioritise your plan: Make time to ensure you have what you need and time to prepare it – with your kids – to be consistent.
  5. Include a frozen water bottle: Hydration is important, particularly with additional fibre intake.


How do I help my child enjoy eating healthy foods?

The key, according to Heart Foundation senior dietitian Jemma O’Hanlon, is to take small steps towards a bigger goal.

Today, Ms O’Hanlon shared the organisation’s top lunchbox lifesavers to keep costs down for families and satisfy their kids’ tastebuds while sticking to heart-healthy eating habits.

Ms O’Hanlon said to remember that food choices are not necessarily good or bad in isolation; they instead need to be considered in the context of our whole diets.

“Parents are busy enough, so don’t feel that you need to spend hours in the kitchen preparing lunches. Have your little helpers give you a hand and let them choose which fruit or vegetable they would like to pack in their lunchbox,” she said.

“If you want to give your child a treat, choose one day of the week (Friday is always a popular choice) and let them choose a ‘sometimes food’ to add to their lunchbox.

“It’s also important to remember, if food comes home uneaten, don’t be defeated because it can take over 10 times of offering a child a food before acceptance.“

Given unhealthy diets are a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease, the Heart Foundation’s senior dietitian, Jemma O’Hanlon, said it’s important for families to take small, easy steps towards a healthier lifestyle – and involve the kids.

“Given one in four children living in Australia are overweight or obese, the school lunchbox is a good place to start,” Ms O’Hanlon said.

For some simple and tasty kid-approved recipes, visit our kid friendly recipes webpage on the Heart Foundation website.

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Additional tips for a healthy lunchbox

  • Try to have the family fuel up at the start of the day
  • If time permits, start the day with an easy healthy breakfast like natural muesli, yoghurt and fresh berries
  • If the morning routine doesn’t go to plan, have a back-up healthy breakfast – inexpensive options such as a piece of fresh fruit, unflavoured yoghurt, or throw them into a blender and make a heart-healthy smoothie

Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids events, attractions & things to do with kids, schools and education, school holiday guides, health & wellbeing for families, parenting and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD. 

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Search tags: Food | Health | Healthy Eating | Lunchbox
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