Joshua Harris, 6, eating a healthy lunch of lamb and vegetable pasta.
Joshua Harris, 6, eating a healthy lunch of lamb and vegetable pasta. Eliza Wheeler

Dietitian: Ditch the chips when packing lunches

THE back to school countdown is on and a Maryborough dietitian has 'smart' lunchbox ideas to give your kids a kick-start to the school year.

Owner and manager of See Change Dietetics Ann-Maree Block said a "smart" lunchbox was essential for children to reach their full potential in the classroom or the playground.

"Research indicates that having healthy food at school helps to improve concentration, mental performance and memory," Ann-Maree said.

"Choosing foods, that are nutrient dense helps keep children energised and performing well and ensure adequate growth and development.

"Children need to be offered a wide variety of nutritious food every day with plenty of fruit, salad, wholegrain breads, lean meats and dairy foods."

Ann-Maree said some lunchbox snacks were much less healthy than they looked at first glance, and could contain a lot of processed sugar, fat and salt.

"A major concern is the contents of some school lunch boxes, which are filled with packets of crisps, fried noodles, muesli bars and sugar laden drinks," she said.

"Recent studies have reported many muesli bars have more kilojoules than a chocolate bar.

"Many convenient snack foods are very high in fat, sugar and salt and are not recommended as every-day foods.

"The problem with these foods is that they replace other nutritious foods required for optimum energy levels and performance and contribute to excess weight and dental decay."

The dietitian said a healthy lunchbox did not have to be a boring lunchbox.

"Bread serves can be bread rolls, foccacias, vegetable or fruit muffins, fruit loaf, vegetable pikelets, corn-fritters, wholegrain crackerbiscuits, pasta salads or rice salads," she said.

"Mini crispy salads consisting of cherry tomatoes, carrot, cucumber and celery sticks with pita bread and dips such as hommus or salsa.

"Cut chunks of fresh fruit or dried fruit into tubs and include dairy foods such as frozen yoghurt, snack pack custards, cheese wedges."