It's time for a lunchbox nutrition check up

Child eating lunchPacking a nutritious lunch not only ensures our kids refuel for an afternoon of learning, it is also a good way to help establish healthy eating habits that will last well beyond primary school.

According to Canada's Food Guide, kids need 4 to 6 servings of vegetables and fruit, 3 to 6 servings of grain products, 2 to 4 servings of milk and alternatives and 1 to 2 servings of meat and alternatives each day.

Trying to meet the recommended daily intakes can be daunting. One quick fix is to take a closer look at the type of beverage you pack in your child's lunch because what you drink can be equally as important as what you eat. Many beverages such as soft drinks, fruit drinks and water are popular lunch time drinks but lack nutrients. Selecting a beverage that is flavourful and healthy is an easy - and great tasting - way to boost the nutritional quality of this important mid-day meal.

"Packing a nutritious beverage is a great way to give your lunch a boost," says Kerri Seigel, registered dietitian and nutrition consultant. "Healthier options, such as soy beverages, that offer 15 essential nutrients as well as up to seven grams of protein, and come in a variety of flavours, can help your child maintain consistent energy levels and mental alertness throughout the day."

Making a better beverage selection at lunch can vastly improve the overall nutritional quality of this important mid-day meal. Following are some simple tips to keep in mind:

  1. Choose beverages that are low in saturated fats, contain no trans fats and are high in calcium, and vitamins D and B12
  2. Buy items in multi-packs, so you'll always have some on hand
  3. Go for flavours kids love, such as So Good single serve in chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.