[singlepic id=299 w=320 h=240 float=left]Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt today said the first day of school was the perfect time to establish healthy habits for the rest of the year.

Mr Pitt said it can be a challenge to fill lunch boxes with healthy food that will be eaten.

He said good nutrition helped children to grow up healthy, smart and strong.

“Lunches and snacks at school play a big part in making sure your children get their daily nutritional needs,” Mr Pitt said.

“That helps them to develop healthy bodies and minds, stay alert in class and be energetic all day, maintain a healthy weight, and fight infections.”

Mr Pitt said making lunches and snacks with fresh healthy foods was cheaper than buying pre-packaged snacks.

“Children are more likely to eat food they help prepare, so getting them involved in simple tasks like making sandwiches is great way to get them eating healthy,” Mr Pitt said.

“It also helps them to learn and establish lifelong healthy eating habits.

“Pre-packaged snack foods are often used as a convenient fall-back but they can often be low in nutritional value or high in saturated fat, sugar or salt.”

Mr Pitt also reminded parents not to overload their children’s schoolbags.

“Schoolbags can cause back pain, affect posture and potentially damage the spine if they’re too heavy or the wrong size,” Mr Pitt said.

“Parents can reduce this risk by buying a backpack that is an appropriate size and making sure the bag is loaded up with unnecessary weight.”

Tips on healthy food

There are plenty of foods that can add variety to school lunch boxes, make a healthy and tasty snack and encourage nutritious snacks from the five food groups. Try these ideas:

  • fresh or canned fruit, or fruit salad in a tub with yoghurt
  • corn on the cob or crunchy vegetable sticks like capsicum, celery, and carrot with a vegetable-based dip like hummus, salsa, guacamole or eggplant
  • tub of yoghurt or custard, or a small carton of milk (choose reduced fat varieties)
  • reduced fat cheese sticks or cubes, hard boiled egg, or small tin of baked beans
  • wholegrain crackers, rice cakes or corn cakes with reduced fat cheese
  • homemade muffins or slices with added fruit or vegetables
  • plain, fruit or savoury scones and pikelets.

Tips on keeping food safe

When preparing lunches and snacks for school don’t forget to keep it safe. Two key factors in preventing food poisoning are to keep hot food hot and cold food cold.  Foods not only taste better at the correct temperature, they are also safe to eat.

  • Include a frozen drink or small freezer brick in your child’s lunch box
  • Pack lunches in a cooler bag or insulated lunch box
  • Freeze yoghurt or milk to keep at a safe temperature
  • Clean lunch boxes regularly
  • Make sure school bags containing lunch boxes are stored in the shade
  • Wash hands before preparing and eating food.

For more information see the Great lunches and snacks for hungry kids brochure available at http://www.health.qld.gov.au/ph/documents/abetterchoice/hungry_kids.pdf

Tips on reducing risk of spinal damage

  • Schoolbag should not weigh more than 10 per cent of the child’s weight
  • Make sure it is packed correctly with weight evenly distributed
  • Show your child correct lifting and carrying techniques
  • Encourage your child to store books in their school locker and only bring home those needed for homework

For more healthy back to school tips visit the healthy schools website http://www.health.qld.gov.au/healthyschools/

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