Mommy, what are we eating for lunch? A question that most mommies have heard a lot during the lockdown period. Donna Van Zyl, a dietitian, shares a few lunch ideas for the family
School-going children generally have a routine and other activities that makes diabetes management a bit easier than children at home during lockdown. They may be sleeping late at night, waking late morning, and eating at irregular times. The lack of routine may contribute to irregular blood glucose levels.
In addition, we find ourselves walking far more to the cupboard or refrigerator due to boredom and we catch ourselves snacking slightly more. Boredom eating is one of the bigger challenges in lockdown and therefore routine should also be established like the school day at home with breakfast; school work; snack and lunch time. However, eating at home or school; a diabetic lunch is no different to a healthy lunch that every child should eat.
A healthy balanced lunch will ensure that your child gets the right amount of nutrients and energy they need to concentrate or perform optimally. A balanced lunch consists of a wholegrain/unrefined low-GI carbs, protein, fats, fruit, salads and vegetables.
Tips for lunch or lunch boxes
- For those who are carb-counting, a good tip is to write down the total amount of carbohydrates on a sticky note, paste inside the lunch box so that it is easier for your child, or the school nurse, to count carbs at school. Preparing portioned foods can also aid your child at school, or at home, when carb counting.
- Prepare or pack a healthy lunch you know your child will eat. Otherwise your child may enjoy swopping his or her food with friends or end up not eating. It is important to switch up the foods regularly. Let your children try new foods over the weekend or at night, so that you know whether you can prepare or pack the food in for them.
- Allow your child to help you prepare the lunch or pack the lunch box. At the same time, you can teach your child how to do the carb counting or even some culinary skills. Often children who take responsibility for preparing the meal establish healthy and good eating habits.
- Always provide a low-carb option, such as a protein or fat snack. See options listed below.
- Always have a snack available to pick up a low blood glucose level; longer life options, such as a packet of raisins, can be kept close by just in case.
- Prepare food in advance and freeze or prepare more portions the evening before so that leftovers can be used for lunch the next day
How to use leftovers the next day; and if there are no leftovers what can you serve for lunch tomorrow?
When leftovers are available:
|Chicken||Chicken mayonnaise whole-wheat wraps, whole-wheat rolls with added salad preserves
Pesto quinoa/durum wheat pasta chicken salad with added rosa tomatoes and feta
Pineapple and pineapple mixed salad
Chicken, feta and bean salad including salad preserves
For the lower carb: Chicken salad with a honey mustard dressing
|Steak||Steak Prego whole-wheat roll with added salad preserves
Stir-fry and steak vegetable wrap
Steak strips served with baby potato salad and salad/veg on the side
For the lower carb: Steak salad with a balsamic & olive oil or Blue Cheese dressing
|Mince||Mince and cheese toasted whole-wheat or rye sandwich (can even be topped with a fried egg)
Cheese, mince and corn whole-wheat wrap (Toasted)
Mince, guacamole, corn and diced tomato tacos
|Prepared Soup||Chicken and noodle soup
Hearty beef and barley soup
Vegetable and lentil soup
When no leftovers are available:
|Eggs||Lean bacon, cheese and egg toasted whole-wheat sandwich
Scrambled egg muffins/omelette (bacon, mushroom and cheese or spinach and feta) served with a whole-wheat or rye toast
|Tuna||Apple and tuna salad mixed with salad preserves and mayonnaise
Tuna pasta salad
Salmon and tuna fishcakes (prepared) served with roasted vegetables or mixed assorted salad
For the lower carb: Tuna, cucumber, tomato and chickpea salad dressed with mayonnaise
For those children heading off to school, a lunch box can include a few more snacky items; especially when lunch is generally served at home. You can include the following:
Scrambled egg muffins; or lean meat, such as beef strips, chicken breasts strips, sosaties (mini), biltong, salami slices/sticks, meatballs (chicken or beef), cheese: wedges, blocks of cheddar cheese, cottage cheese or cream cheese, yoghurt, smoothies.
- Starchy food
Whole-wheat/rye bread, whole-grain Provitas, wraps, brown rice, quinoa, barley, baby boiled potatoes/sweet potato with the skin, and durum wheat pasta.
- A good helping of salad, vegetables and fruit
Fresh fruit is easy to pack; or chopped fresh strawberries, pineapple fingers, apple slices, orange or naartjie wedges. Remember to count the fruit towards your carbs.
Raw veggies, such as carrot sticks, cherry/Rosa tomatoes, mini cucumber or sliced, gherkins, mini corn, corn on the cob, capsicum strips are all popular to add colour to the lunch box and can always be served with a dip: sour cream/hummus or guacamole.
Nuts and seeds or unsweetened nut butters can also be added as an additional treat.
The actual lunch box
- Ensure it is a strong container that will protect the food from being squashed.
- Have smaller containers available for dips, sauces or cut-up fruit.
- When choosing a water bottle, make sure that it will be easy to clean. Some juice containers have a removable ice pack that you can use to keep the water cold. This is also great for milk or smoothies.
- You can use a soft cooler bag for food that needs to be kept cool.
- And remember to wash out the lunch box daily.
MEET THE EXPERT
Donna van Zyl is a private practicing dietitian for Nutritional Solutions, Bloemfontein. She is growing in the field of paediatrics and plays a key role in individualising nutritional therapy for Type 1 diabetics. Her special interests are optimising health, managing chronic lifestyle related diseases, and sports nutrition. She lectures part-time at the University of the Free State, which she enjoys thoroughly.