Our resident Gym Plus nutritionist, Alex Dobbs, gives her top tips on preparing healthy lunches for back to school.
Back to School can be a stressful time of year. I find myself trying to prepare myself mentally by making sure I plan for “quiet” afternoons – I mean I want to be as organized as I can be to avoid last minute panics. I also make sure I am well prepared for meals and healthy snacks. Preparing healthy lunch boxes for myself and my children is one of my favourite things to do. Honestly. As long as I am organized …
Towards the end of any long holiday during the year, I seem to have forgotten completely how to build a healthy lunch box and have to retrain myself. Here are my top tips for super healthy and delicious lunch boxes for everyone:
Keep it simple! Make sure that you can prepare your healthy lunch box without spending too much time. If you make it too complicated, chances are you will have lost your enthusiasm for healthy lunches before the first week is over. Check over in my recipes section for healthy sandwich ideas.
What belongs in a healthy lunch box? A wholemeal sandwich filled with either meat, cheese or other spread and some cucumber or lettuce. Some freshly cut vege sticks. A piece of fruit. Maybe some yoghurt or crackers if you get very hungry at lunchtime.
Always include fresh raw vegetables in your lunch box. The addition of fresh vegetables are probably the simplest way of achieving a healthy lunch box. Simply wash and cut up some cucumber, pepper, carrots and celery. You will grow to love munching through these hydrating nutrient boosters at your lunch break. Add in a healthy homemade dip such as hummus or avocado if you need to.
Make it fun! Set yourself a challenge of including a different fruit every day. Be creative with the kinds of vegetables and fruits you include. Choose a different fruit every day. Choose one from these easily available options every day: melon, pineapple, apple, pears, grapes, peaches, etc.
Stay hydrated. Invest in a quality refillable water bottle you can simply fill from the tap. Carry it with you wherever you go. Make sure to drink at least 1 ½ l of fresh water or herbal tea every day. Start the day with a large glass of water at home, empty your bottle before lunch and then refill it and drink throughout the afternoon. Fruit juices, smoothies and fizzy drinks are laden with sugars and are occasional treats only (ideally diluted). Coffee in particular dehydrates the body, so make sure to have a large glass of water with every cup of coffee you drink.
And as always, if you don’t buy it you can’t eat it. Don’t fall into the temptation of buying “quick fix” processed foods such as sweet biscuits, muffins or chocolates to fill yourself up. A well made wholemeal sandwich, some veggie sticks and a piece of fruit make up a super nutritious and super filling lunch box easily.