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Cutting sugar in children lunchboxes

Tuesday, 11 Jan 2022

190 school days mean 190 lunchboxes. Soggy sandwiches, bruised apples and stale biscuits often find their way back home with pre-packaged foods often favoured.

Although convenient and a guarantor that your child is eating during the day, that convenience can come at a cost to your child’s health.

In 2014-15, an AIHW report found that 1 in 4 Australian children we overweight or obese. There are many lifestyle factors contributing to this rise with foods marketed to children being high in salt, fat and sugar one of them. Sugar in particular is a hot topic at the moment and understandably so. 75% of all packaged foods contain added sugar so it’s likely your little ones are having more than their recommended quota of 3-4 teaspoons of added sugar per day.

So what can you do to cut down the sugar in their lunch box but ensure the contents aren’t making a round trip and ending up in the garbage?

Below is a list of some common ‘healthy’ lunchbox sweet choices (which are actually loaded with added sugar) and a healthier alternative for you to try.

Pre-made “liquid breakfast” drinks

A healthier alternative: Throwing 1/2 cup low fat milk, 1 banana, handful of frozen berries and 1/3 cup of natural yoghurt into the blender. It will take less than 5 minutes and includes their 2 serves of fruit and 2 of the recommended 3 serves of dairy.

Flavoured yogurt

A healthier alternative: Choosing a plain or natural yogurt and adding your own flavour. Frozen or fresh berries, a teaspoon of honey, cinnamon or banana are just a few ideas.

Fruit juice and cordial

A healthier alternative: Eating whole pieces of fruit and drinking water. You can add berries, mint, lemon, lime, oranges or kiwi fruit to give water some flavour.

Muesli or fruit bars

A healthier alternative: Apple and Oat Pikelets

1. Place ¾ cup self-raising flour and ½ cup rolled oats into a mixing bowl and stir
2. Separately, mix together 1 lightly beaten egg, ¾ cup milk, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 grated apple. Pour into the flour and oat mixture and stir to combine
4. Spray a frypan with oil on medium heat
5. Place ¼ cup of mixture on pan and cook until bubbles form, then turn and cook for another 1-2 minutes.