Karabo Mokoena
Content producer
2 minute read
3 Jun 2021
12:57 pm

What constitutes as a healthy lunchbox?

Karabo Mokoena

Different households approach lunchbox ideas differently, but every family would like the box to be as balanced as possible.

Some practical tips on putting together a healthy lunchbox for your kids. Image: iStock

Getting a lunchbox ready for school every day might make one run out of ideas. The most important factor in a lunchbox meal is how balanced and healthy it is versus how creative it looks.

Not every mom has the time or the creative flair to create faces with bread. Every mom, however, has prioritised the health and wellbeing of the child. Therefore, knowing what one should stay away from and put more of in the box is key.

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Dr. Iqbal Karbanee, a paediatrician and CEO of Paed-IQ BabyLine, a trusted telephonic medical advice service for the first 1000 days of a child’s life, says more conversation needs to take place in the parents regarding what constitutes a healthy lunchbox.

Healthy lunchbox options

According to the website Better Health, a healthy lunchbox should have a balance of the below food groups:

  • Protein (eggs, peanut butter, fish, etc)
  • Dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt)
  • Starch (bread, pita or flatbread, etc)
  • Fruits and vegetables

From this foundation, multiple healthy lunchbox meal ideas could be birthed. These could be different kinds of sandwiches, salads, wraps, and even side nibbles.

Sandwiches that could go into a lunchbox:

  • Chicken mayo sandwich
  • Grilled cheese sandwich
  • Boiled egg with mayo
  • Avocado sandwich

Lunchbox drinks

Dr. Iqbal encourages moms to either dilute fruit juices or give their children water instead. If it can’t just be water, then be sure to alternate. “fruit juice contains fructose that is a type of sugar.

When consumed in large quantities, fructose can lead to:

  • Loose stools
  • Tummy cramps
  • Affected teeth

According to Dr. Iqbal, children should not consume more than 250 ml of juice per day.

How do you encourage healthy eating in children?

Dr. Iqbal says “Children learn by watching their parents’ behaviour.” The health standards of the children are determined by those set out by the family. If the family is in the habit of eating unhealthy foods, then children can easily follow suit.

Packing carrots in the lunchbox when she has never seen the family eat one is going to be difficult. But when you use your own eating habits as a benchmark, then healthy eating might not be an impossible mission after all.

You can also get kids involved in the buying of the groceries and preparing the meal. This can set you up for important conversations regarding the benefits of the meals chosen. It is important that kids feel like they have a choice and have participated in the decision.

If it is a top-down approach to eating healthy “because I say so,” then rebellion might keep the children away from eating healthy. It will make the option redundant, and they will continue demanding chocolates and sweets as part of their lunchbox daily.