Nutrition panels on snacks for lunchboxes – what are they actually telling you?
Supermarket aisles can be a minefield for parents looking to decide what to pack in their children’s lunchboxes. Nutrition panels can be difficult to interpret. The glossy marketing slogans, slick packaging and allure of a quick, pre-packaged snack that will delight, can make items you purchase over present real health concerns.
If possible, when you are in a supermarket, try to frequent the fresh food sections and forget the rest. The fruit and vegetables, deli, bakery and essential dairy fridges will contain 95% of what you need. There are multiple aisles that offer ‘convenience foods’, which generally contain high amounts of sugar and salt. Your trolley can quickly become full of food that will very easily push your daily consumption of sugar past recommended daily limits, without you even realising it.
The World Health Organisation recommends that we reduce our personal sugar consumption to be no more than 10% of energy intake for the day. This is equal to about 8 teaspoons of sugar a day for a 12 year old child. It would be quite surprising to many to learn that although we may think that we are not adding any sugar directly to our food, we very quickly go over our recommended daily intake through consuming foods that we don’t usually associate with having high sugar. For example, the vitamin rich morning cereal that looks like a healthy option, can have up to 3 teaspoons. The staple muesli bar backed into many lunchboxes can commonly contain up to 1.5 teaspoons of sugar, a flavoured low fat milk has approximately 2 teaspoons of sugar.
Keeping kid’s lunchboxes safe
In addition to considering how much sugar goes into lunchboxes, it is important you make sure that food you include is packed at the right temperature. If the temperature of the food goes outside 5 degrees Celsius and 60 degrees Celsius, it is considered the temperature danger zone. Bacteria that can cause food poisoning can quickly multiple outside of this temperature range. It is important to keep food safety top of mind. You can consider foods that freeze well to add to the selection of foods, such as frozen bread, meat, cheese and some regular spreads.