Mum Daily

Lift the lunchbox to get kids healthier, happier, smarter

In the back-to-school rush, buck trends and prioritise healthy lunchboxes to keep your kids healthier, happier and smarter.

Research shows a strong link between diet and brain power, with children achieving better grades, learning more, thinking clearer and building better memory when fuelled with healthy food.

It’s easy for the lunchbox to be left until last on the back-to-school list. New stationary, books, uniforms, timetables, backpacks – the list is almost endless when preparing for term one, and healthy, nourishing food choices are often forgotten.

Let’s start the school year on the right track with the right meals, enabling our kids to concentrate better, have more fun and develop strong academic skills.

A diet high in take-away foods, red and processed meat, soft drinks and processed foods can affect academic performance and a child’s ability to focus, respond appropriately and think clearly.

Unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles are linked to a range of chronic diseases, including some cancers.

You can build a healthy lunch with some key ingredients. Carbohydrate-based foods, like wholegrain bread, pasta, rice and couscous are great to keep hungry tummies fuller for longer!

Go for high-protein foods like lean meat, tinned tuna, egg or tofu. Protein-rich dairy foods like yoghurt and cheese are also good sources of calcium.

Try and fill your child’s lunchbox with a healthy serve of fruits and vegetables – think mandarins, bananas, apples, pre-peeled oranges, snow peas or cherry tomatoes, they’re easy to eat!

Water is the best choice as a drink to keep your kids hydrated throughout the day, or unflavoured, low-fat milk.

Limit the intake of foods high in saturated fat – like biscuits, cakes, pastries, pies, pizza, processed meats and potato chips, and avoid food and drinks containing added salt.

Up to one-third of all cancers are preventable through simple lifestyle adjustments including eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in recommended physical activity.

More information is available via Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 or