Lifting the lid on lunch boxes

BACK to school time often means going back to the school tuckshop, where healthy eating is all but a myth.

Usually the straightforward answer to avoid the canteen is to provide a healthy homemade lunch instead.

However The Cancer Council lifted the lid on lunch boxes in Queensland to reveal many packed lunches are lacking in the vegetable department.

The research revealed parents were packing the recommended serves of fruit, yet they were not including enough vegetables.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said she recognised how hard it could be to pack a healthy lunch. "We understand the time, financial, emotional and practical pressures on Queensland parents that can make balancing the weekday lunch box a difficult task," she said.

"A few simple changes can make all the difference to the daily health and wellbeing of our children and start positive habits that ensure great health in the long-term.

"Swapping out packaged snacks, often high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, for an apple, banana, carrot or celery is easy and takes the same amount of time to prepare."

Ms Clift said a balanced lunch box should contain one serve of lean protein, wholegrains, one or two pieces of fruit, vegetables, low fat dairy and water.

When it comes to packing a healthy lunch which kids will eat, Ms Clift said it was important to discuss lunch options with them.

She said parents should encourage children to help prepare their lunches so they can help choose what healthier food and drinks they would like in their lunch boxes.