For most families, it’s a daily challenge trying to pack a lunch box with a variety of healthy foods that kids will actually eat and enjoy. Unfortunately, most “healthy” supermarket foods are anything but that, despite what the packaging may claim.
Given how busy the average family is during the working week, it’s understandably easy for lunch boxes to become repetitive (especially with fussy eaters, families resort to “what works”) and often involving processed and packaged convenience foods to help make the morning rush easier – especially when there are multiple lunch boxes involved.
Unfortunately, these processed foods often contain high levels of sugar, salt, preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings, MSG and a long list of hidden nasties, even those products marketed as “healthy” and “nutritious”.
Some kids’ lunch boxes can contain up to 40 teaspoons of sugar in the form of “healthy” foods, such as organic apple and blackcurrant juice, sesame snaps, fruit bars, organic sultanas, a muffin bar, fruity bites, a fruit jelly pack and a jam sandwich. This is often confronting for parents to hear, given that they consider these to be “healthy” lunch box additions.
Learning to decipher and understand ingredient labels is incredibly important, as it empowers us as parents to make healthier, more nutritious choices for our family. I go into detail around how to read labels in my book.
In my previous article on reducing processed sugars, I talk about how and why it’s important to reduce the processed sugars that our children consume – and why it’s crucial to limit consumption, rather than ban completely or vilify. It’s important for our children to understand the facts behind sugar, how it fits into the family snack structure (I encourage processed sugar-filled snacks to be regarded as a “sometimes” food outside the home) and to learn that seeing healthy, whole and nutritious unprocessed foods in the lunchbox is the expected norm.