Healthy tips for a healthy school lunch

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Tuesday, September 6th, 2016
For the new school year, it can be difficult to think up healthy lunch and snack ideas for the children’s packed lunch, so the Public Health Agency (PHA) has some handy advice and tips on choosing a healthier option for the best start to the school year. healthy lunchThe main message is to steer clear of sugary drinks and snacks high in added fat, salt and sugars and to remember that children only need kid-sized portions. Caroline Bloomfield, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager at the PHA, said, ‘There are many foods available in our supermarkets that are marketed for lunchboxes. These foods are often high in fat, salt and sugars. “It can be confusing: however, picking the healthier option isn’t just good for nourishment, it can also help with pupils’ concentration and behaviour in the classroom. “Involve your kids in making up their lunchboxes too, as encouraging children and talking to them about choosing healthier foods is an important step in establishing good eating habits that will benefit them throughout their lives, helping them to stay a healthy weight,” she added. Both schools and parents have an important role to play in ensuring children have healthy choices for both breaks and lunches. Nursery schools, playgroups and primary schools will receive information from the PHA and safefood on healthy eating in schools. They can also be seen on our website at
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September 2016Caroline continued, “Young children have a small capacity for food but also have high energy and nutrient requirements. Three meals a day are often not enough to provide all the nutrients they require, therefore healthy snacks between meals are very important. “Including fruit and vegetables as snacks for morning break will also help them get their five a day. Bread snacks can help meet these extra energy needs so a small roll, pitta bread or bread sticks can be a good inclusion in the lunchbox. “Thinly spread the bread with a little margarine, low-fat spread or butter and avoid using sugary spreads like jam, honey and chocolate spread which can be harmful to teeth.” It’s also important that children drink enough during the day so that they don’t become dehydrated and tired. Water and milk are the most suitable for children, and sugary drinks, including fruit juices and smoothies, should be avoided as these can cause tooth decay, especially when taken between meals. For more information refer to the leaflet Are you packing a healthy lunch? at and for more tips and ideas visit
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