At night, the most common question in every household is, ‘What should I cook tomorrow?’ It’s a question we have been hearing our mothers ask since we were kids and we as parents are following the same track. Because of the morning rush to get ready in time, most children just nibble on some bread or even end up skipping breakfast before going to school. Considering that children spend a majority of their day in school, it is imperative for parents to send lunchboxes with their kids.
With changing times and easy access to processed foods, the menu for children’s lunchboxes is also changing. Often times, parents look at it as a way to keep their little one’s tummy filled. However, it is not just about filling their tummy but rather what their tummy is filled with. The main aim should be to provide your child with good nutrition. Cognitive development is directly related to good nutrition in children. Nutrients like proteins and carbohydrates help in building the child’s muscles. Calcium is essential for teeth and bone development. Iron improves the oxygen levels in the blood and the various vitamins ensure all our organs function properly and fight infections.
Studies also show that a deficiency of zinc leads to reduced mental capacity, poor cognitive performance and poor attention span in school. When children eat a wholesome meal, their immunity is strengthened, and they fall sick less often. Which in turn means they do not have to miss school. Good nutrition also means that kids have enough energy to be active in school.
Some children tend to be picky eaters, and no amount of coaxing can convince them to eat an apple instead of a cookie. They may also stick to a few foods that they like compelling parents to repeat the same foods over and over again. Lunch break in school is also the time children get to play. Children naturally prefer playing over eating. So how can you make sure that children receive their daily dose of essential nutrients?
Here are a few tips to ensure your child has a wholesome meal while using the tiffin box for their development.
Involve your child
Try to involve your children in the process of deciding the tiffin box menu. Allowing your kids to choose their lunch does not mean giving them free reign. Give them limited options to choose from. If there is more than one kid in the house, let them take turns to choose. If the menu one child chooses is disliked by the other, ask them to come up with feasible options themselves. This helps children learn problem solving and develops a vested interest in their lunch boxes.
Mix it up
Do not keep the same food items each day as this would lead to monotonous eating. Keeping variety in the tiffin will expose the child to different food products and will not limit their choices to a few favorite foods. Children eat better in the company of their peers hence; the lunch box is a good way to introduce new food items. You can also try changing their tiffin boxes from time to time. This is a great way to ensure your child is kept curious and their interest is perked enough to open their tiffin box during lunch.
Make it visually effective
Using different colors and shapes helps children learn how to think outside the box and helps them see things differently. Rotis do not have to be round, and breads do not have to squares. Cut the roti or bread into different shapes using cookie cutters. You can also include colors in the box by adding fruits and vegetables. If you are artistic enough, you can create a dog or duck using breads and fruits. If the food appears appealing to your children, they will eat it without any hustles.
Nutrition is critical for the physical and mental development of children. Avoid falling into the traps of ready-to-eat meals and processed, canned foods. You can give your child a cookie or a piece of cake as a reward or a snack. However, you must ensure that junk foods do not regularly substitute meals.
“Food maybe essential for the body, but good food is fuel for the soul”
– Malcolm Forbes