The smell of new books, brand new boxes & bags, sharpened pencils and polished shoes – yes, its time to get back to school. While most of us have chalked out a list of art classes, tutorials, sport coaching, skills development classes and any other class we can think of for our children; we miss out on planning the most important aspect of their growth – their nutrition.
WHY IS SCHOOL NUTRITION SO IMPORTANT?
A child gets 70% of his daily dose of growth nutrition from his main meals (breakfast, lunch or dinner). That means – every child must eat well-balanced meals to ensure brain & memory enhancement, strength, growth, immunity building and to stay fit. Most children eat at least one major meal, either breakfast or lunch, in school. This implies that their school meal contributes to about 30% of their daily growth needs.
WHAT IF THE SCHOOL MEAL IS NOT BALANCED?
So basically, if a school meal is replaced by packet food, or food from the canteen or simply some leftovers – a child shows 30% slower growth and development than normal. Also, children need to be well nourished in their tiffin breaks to prevent drowsiness in the classes that follow.
A good tiffin meal ensures enhanced concentration, sharp grasping abilities and better recall value during tests.
TIPS TO PLAN A HEALTHY TIFFIN MEAL
1. Include some protein (egg, paneer, pulses, sprouts, yoghurt) in the meal to keep your child satiated for 3 hours
2. Make sure to add an extra dose of veggies or fruit when using bread OR pasta OR potato preparations
3. Avoid using meat or fish in school lunch – they take up a lot of the body’s energy for digestion
4. Do not fill up the meal box with creamy, cheesy, fatty, fried food
5. Avoid using too much of white sugar/ biscuits or jams in school meal
6. Pack the meal box once the food has completely cooled. This prevents sweating & keeps food fresh longer
7. Wraps, rice preparations, stuffed parathas, steamed foods (idli, dhokla), sandwiches stay best in tiffin lunch
8. Squeeze lemon over cut fruit (apple, pear, papaya, guava) to keep them fresh & prevent browning
9. Use a lettuce leaf to layer wraps or sandwiches to prevent them from sogging
10. Use dry pasta recipes (aglio olio, pasta salads) instead of saucy ones
11. Use mason jar salad & pasta recipes to create excitement & keep food fresh.