Lunch box needs advance planning
By BIANCA CLARE
TO pack or not to pack. That's the question Rebecca Lindsay* is asking this week, as her two children head back to school.
"I know healthy lunches are important, but it's not always easy to put that knowledge into practice," she said.
"Packing nutritious lunches can be time-consuming and more often than not a waste, because half of the food comes back home uneaten.
"On the other hand giving them canteen money is convenient and I know they'll eat what they buy, but I am also aware that it will be spent on things like lollies, chips and meat pies.
"I dread back-toschool time because every day becomes a struggle to achieve a healthy, balanced diet.
"My children are heavy influenced by food advertising and what is in their friends' lunch boxes.
"If it's not cool then there is no way they will eat it at school."
The Dietitians Asso- ciation of Australia understands the peer pressure kids face to eat 'particular foods' but says it's important to keep offering healthy lunch box choices in a variety of ways.[EP] Teaching kids to eat well when they are young will set up good habits for life.
The right foods help kids concentrate and keep their energy levels up.
As practical tips to help parents prepare for the back to school period, they suggest explaining the role of healthy foods and why the food in your child's lunch box may differ from their friends'.
Getting kids involved in preparing and packing school lunches can ensure that the food not only gets eaten but is enjoyed as well.
Planning and buying everything you need for the week's lunches in advance will also save time.