As we all focus every day on what food our kids will be likely to eat, do we really know what they actually need in their lunches to grow healthy and happy? We gathered for you some valuable tips with the help of Claire, a professional in nutrition research who collaborated with experts from the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES). Whether you’re a beginner or an expert in packing nutritious lunches, you’ll probably find here some inspiration to take your lunchbox to the next level.
Why we need to watch our kid’s nutritional intakes
Filling our kids and teenagers with the nutrients they need helps them grow and prevents health issues when adults. It is also during childhood that certain behaviors and habits are acquired, which will be maintained throughout the individual’s life.
ANSES’s experts identified inadequate nutrient intakes for children regarding certain nutrients such as calcium and iron. These two nutrients are essential to help our kids grow healthy. Find below growth-supporting foods to favor in the lunchbox starting today!
How to get more calcium
Calcium is important for strong bones, as well as for the healthy functioning of nerves, muscles, and heart. Growing children need about 3 servings of calcium every day.
Where to find calcium? Milk and dairy products like yogurts and cheeses are first in line to provide your kids with their daily intake. Think other dietary sources of calcium for children who consume few diary products : leafy vegetables ( spinach, cabbage, lettuce…), pulses (beans, peas, lentils…), seeds (fennel, sesame, chia…), and certain mineral waters.
Food Tip – Foods rich in vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium, such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel and herring), liver, eggs, vegetable fat like margarine …
How to get more iron
Iron helps move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and helps muscles store and use oxygen. To keep your child’s growth and development on track, offer iron-rich foods at meals and snacks.
Where to find iron? Favor meat, fish or eggs to provide daily intakes. Other sources of iron are wholegrain bread, pulses, nuts and dried fruits.
Food Tip – Foods rich in vitamin C such as blackcurrant, strawberries, oranges, pineapples, grapefuit, pepper, can help absorb more iron.
Keep an eye on sugar consumption
ANSES warns about excess sugar intakes, in particular for younger children. The experts identified two priority levers to reduce these excess sugar intakes: sugar-sweetened beverages (cold non-alcoholic beverages and fruit juice) and pastries/biscuits/cakes. Frequently offered as afternoon snacks, these items can be replaced with foods lower in sugar such as plain dairy products, fresh fruits, nuts, and water.