Posted on September 06, 2018

Children should be involved in all stages of preparing their lunch boxes to schools, from the time of shopping to preparing and packaging. This will help them learn about healthy food choices, according to Senior Clinical Dietitian of Paediatrics at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Dr Mona Shaat. 

"There are six groups of food, including carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and proteins, and parents should include at least four of them in the lunch box of their children," Dr Shaat said while speaking to media persons in Doha on Wednesday. Children should be allowed to accompany parents to the supermarket while doing grocery so that they can choose the kind of healthy food they prefer. "From the preparation to the packing, always involve your children, they will be happy," she said. If a child chooses an unhealthy food item, the parents should let him know about its implications, for instance, candy causes decay of tooth. "Even if the child is young, this habit will be instilled in him," she said.

She advised that parents should start educating children about healthy food choices from the early age. "If a parent teaches the child about healthy foods, he will not be influenced by friends towards unhealthy foods when in school," she said. Cereals and crackers are good sources of carbohydrates and should be included in the lunch box, along with fruits and vegetables. But, processed juices should not find a place in the lunch box since they contain lots of sugar." This sugar content makes the child active for a short while and later he becomes fatigued and unable to concentrate in studies."

Juices can be substituted with yoghurt or milk. "Since children may not like vegetables, parents should try to make patterns and shapes out of them to make them attractive. The lunch box should also be colourful," Dr Shaat said. Children should keep the food in air conditioned room to prevent it from going bad. The food should be consumed between 3 and 4 hours after preparation, according to Dr Shaat. If the child wishes to keep the food until lunch time, they can include non-perishable foods like fruits and vegetables."One can sprinkle orange or lemon juice on bananas and apples to prevent them from turning brown," she said.

HMC is conducting awareness campaigns on television to educate children about healthy foods. They also arrange presentations and workshops in schools for children of different ages. "We educate children about healthy food choices throughout the year. Now, we are in the beginning of a school term and we want to educate the family about a healthy lunch box because many parents are not aware of it," she added.

source: Qatar Tribune