Budget and Health Friendly Shopping
Even if you send your child to school with a wonderfully appealing lunchbox, it still may not get eaten.
Your child may be contending with school trades, opinions of friends, access to school canteen or shops and food getting in the way of play time.
Tips for getting the right lunchbox
- Ask your child what they prefer for a healthy lunch, or get them to help pack night before.
- Consider there may be too much in the lunchbox?, Try small portions
- Keep it interesting – Try cutting sandwiches in different ways or try breads, rolls, wraps or a salad.
- Wash and dry all salad to prevent soggy sandwiches.
- Limit packaging and wrapping - This can become fiddly for little fingers.
- Check your school policy on eating before or after play.
- Consider purchasing a compartment lunchbox to keep food separate and exciting.
- Add a personal note to your child’s lunchbox, or write on the peel of a banana.
- Consider alternatives to a sandwich; consider frittata muffins, crackers and meat, boiled eggs and rice cakes.
- Water is the best choice to offer with a lunchbox, consider freezing a small bottle to keep the whole lunchbox cool.
- Keep juices and soft drinks to a minimum as they are very high in sugar.
- Don’t forget to pack a spoon with yoghurt.
- Teach your child about treat foods and allow them occasionally as to not encouraging tabooing of food groups.
Focus on the whole day’s nutritious food intake, rather than one meal.
What is Healthy Eating
There can be many mixed messages about what healthy eating is. Healthy eating for one family may look different to another; however there are many examples of what healthy eating can be. To help guide our decision the 2014 Australian Dietary Guidelines were developed.
The guidelines aim to provide information about the types and amounts of food groups different age groups should aim to, to promote a healthy lifestyle and reduce diet related health issues.
Carbohydrates, Proteins and Fats are all macronutrients and all are important in a healthy diet.
Carbohydrates are the body’s most accessible source of energy. Carbohydrates are found in many foods including vegetables, fruit and grains. When they are broken down, they are released into the body as glucose. All carbohydrates also have a Glycaemic Index (GI). The GI is a measure of how quickly a food is converted to energy. A food with a GI that is less than 55 are classified as low, where as a food with a value of over 70 is classified as high. Low GI foods as a rule are less processed, whole grain varieties which make you feel fuller for longer.
Protein is essential for repairing and building muscle tissue, and creating hormones. Protein is found in mostly animal products (dairy and meat) as well as legumes. When protein is broken down, it turns into amino acids. The body uses amino acids in 3 main ways, 1) Create new skin cells and replace dead cells, 2) Help build other hormones, which help send certain messages around the body, 3) Utilised as a form of energy.
Fat is an essential part of a healthy diet; however families are usually eating too much in their diet, particularly Trans and Saturated fat. Saturated fat occurs naturally in animal products and in processed foods and can increase your blood cholesterol. Trans fat is found naturally in very small amounts in meat; but is found it quite high quantities in very processed foods like cakes, biscuits, food which are deep-fried, or has a long shelf life. Mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated can help to lower cholesterol. These fats are plant based (an exception to this is coconut and palm oil). Fat also helps to protect your organs, assists with hormone production, and helps the body absorb vitamins A and D and move nutrients around.
Sources of types of fat are as follows:
Saturated: Butter, cream, cheese, milk, palm oil, coconut oil, fatty meat, takeaways
Monounsaturated: Canola, olive and peanut oils, avocados
To reduce the amount of saturated and Trans fat:
- Choose leaner meat cuts or remove visible fat.
- Avoid processed meats like salami and sausages or other processed food such as chips, biscuits etc.
- Choose healthier cooking methods such as baking, poaching and steaming.
- Use reduced fat varieties of milk, yoghurt and cheese. Note: reduced fat milk is not suitable for children under the age of 2 years.
The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating provides information on what proportion of each food group you should be consuming.
Tips for Parents
- Look at your family’s health as a whole picture, physical activity and healthy eating are both important to a healthy lifestyle.
- If you want to lose weight, consider watching your portion sizes and making healthy swaps as well as increasing physical activity.
- If you are planning on making changes to you or your family’s lifestyle, start with small changes and then build on them.
All macronutrients are important for a healthy diet, though the amounts and types we choose are important.
Reading a Food Label and saving money
Buying fresh, unprocessed foods is cheaper than buying processed and take away foods. The FOODcents shows families, how you can save money on your weekly shopping and eat healthier.
Nutritionally, fresh isn’t always best with fruit and vegetables. Frozen produce is snap frozen at the time of harvesting and therefore can be nutrition. If you have access to a fresh food market, this can be a good option as it allows you to buy in-season, which makes produce cheaper as well. The convenience of buying frozen to have pre-cut vegetables can save on time, but is likely to cost a little more.
Always check the cost per kilo of the product to ensure you are getting value for money. Sometimes, what can look like a cheaper pre-packaged deal, can be more expensive than buying loose.
All ingredients in a product must be listed and are listed in weight, from largest to smallest. If any of the first four listed ingredients are names used for salt, sugar or fat it is likely this product is only suitable as an occasional food.
Tips for Parents
- To maintain a healthy weight, eat wide variety of healthy food as well as include physical activity every day. This is important regardless of your age and gender.
- It is import to limit saturated and Trans fat, added salt, sugar and alcohol. This can be done by reducing the amount added in cooking or limiting highly processed foods.
- Adult men and women should consume no more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks per day. For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, not drinking alcohol is the safest option.
- Remember to prepare and store your food safely to maximize nutrition and prevent illness.
- If you are making changes to your family’s lifestyle, start with small realistic changes and build on them.
Other Related Topics
When: 30 Mar, 9:30am
Birth to 4 months: A 5-week series of workshops for parents with a newborn baby. Each workshop covers a wide range of topics about you and your new baby and provides the opportunity to meet and connect with other new parents in your local area.