If our kids had their say over what to pack in their school lunchbox, it would look something like this…

Chips.

Chocolate.

Cake.

Chips.

In fact if I had a say about what to pack in my lunch box, I’d probably want the same. After all Marie Antoinette is my hero. ‘Let them eat cake’ should have been the first commandment. However I am an adult and years of experience tells me that my brain needs more nutrition a day than a packet of salt and vinegar chips washed down by a jar of Nutella. And if that doesn’t work, I just think of my butt – vanity is a great motivator.

So it’s up to us – their parents – to be responsible and pack the right things into our kids’ little bodies via their lunchboxes and through doing so, teach our children to override the sugar and salt cravings to eat well for life. Or at least in front of other humans and leave the bad stuff for at home alone in front of the couch watching I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here! where no one can judge you.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter how organised I am, packing Millie’s lunch box still sends me into a tizz. With all these fancy insta feeds in my face of mamas with their decorative lunch box ideas, I feel the pressure for her to have not only all the right ‘people-won’t-judge-her’ food in the box, along with it looking like a picture straight from the latest Woman’s Weekly recipe pages.

But then, it doesn’t actually matter what I pack, she still wants to eat whatever the other kids have, and comes home with a full Tupperware container of sangers (which were cut into fancy love heart shapes). Clearly my creativity was given the big (or little) thumbs down.

The HealthShop@Toowong’s resident nutritionist Dee Armstrong says to combat this we should be getting our kids involved in selecting and packing their own school lunch. This is pretty much music to my ears, I’m all for outsourcing and child labour. Kidding! Dee tells me I am not alone in this first world battle.

“Many parents say one of the major problems with school lunches is that they come back home. Try to give kids some choice about what they take for lunch, and if possible, get them involved with preparing the ‘healthier’ foods. Get the kids involved from a young age. Have the kids make a list of the foods they enjoy, and  praise your child when they choose healthy foods for their own lunchbox.”

I’m not sure if three is too young, but it’s worth a try. So here are Dee’s Top 10 Lunchbox Tips. I hope they help.

1. Variety – the more variety in a lunch box, the more likely your child will be consuming a range of nutrient rich foods.

2. Cold Water – Vital hydration and thirst-quenching. Avoid the sugar-laden juice poppers.

3. Frozen Fruit – Oranges and grapes are fantastic for a cold snack, packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre.

4. Fresh Vegies – Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, celery and capsicum add extra crunch.

5. Leftovers – Pack leftovers from last night’s dinner into small containers ready to pop into the lunch box in the morning.

6. Protein – Good choices include eggs, beans, tofu, chicken, fish and beef – perfect for muscle growth and a healthy immune system.

7. Good Fats – Help keep their brains active and alert with choices like avocado, seed mixes, tuna and coconut.

8. Wholegrain Carbohydrates – Choose wholegrain wraps, rice cakes and crispbreads for good energy sources.

9. Homemade Treats – A great weekend activity for everyone, make homemade muesli bars and healthy muffins without the preservatives found in packaged foods.

10. Love and Fun – Packing a lunch box should be fun and creative, so by inspiring the kids to be part of the process, the more likely they are to discover how amazing healthy food can be.

What do you think of the Top 10? Do you have any other suggestions for packing a healthy lunch for kids? Tell us in the comments below.

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