Expert Opinion

Nature One Dairy x Our Nourishing Table

What are some tips you have on packing a lunch box for a fussy eater? 

My top tips for packing a lunchbox for your fussy eater are:

  1. Don’t overpack the lunchbox – it can be easy to pack too much food as we’re worried that our little ones will be hungry throughout the day. But overpacking the lunchbox can be overwhelming if your child is already a fussy eater. They may not know where to start so they just don’t.
  2. Pack safe foods – picking foods that you know your child likes makes it more likely that they will eat more of their lunch. 
  3. Introduce new foods slowly – if you’re trying something new in the lunchbox, pack a small serving of the new food alongside their safe foods. Remember, it can take a child being introduced to food several times before they’ll even try it. 
  4. Give them something to look forward to – I like to pack a little treat that I know they will love and look forward to (but not enough so that they fill up on treats and don’t eat the rest of their lunch). Some ideas are bliss balls, homemade chocolate chip cookies or a chocolate chia pudding with little choc chips on top.

How can I educate my child on nutrition in a way that’s positive and healthy? 

I find it so helpful to let your child know why food is healthy for them so that they can understand why it is so important for them to eat this food. For example, if my child is eating an orange I would say “Did you know that oranges have Vitamin C in them? Do you know what that is good for? Vitamin C makes our immune system stronger which means our bodies can fight off germs really well!” Getting them involved in the conversation in a fun way helps them to get excited about healthy food. 

But remember, the best way to educate your child about healthy eating is by leading by example. If you eat a diet full of “sometimes foods” with minimal vegetables, quality proteins and healthy fats then your child will mimic this diet. The best way for them to learn to eat healthily is for them to eat a healthy balanced diet. 

My little one is always bringing home their food from school – how do I get them to eat it? 

Children are very busy little people. They often prefer to run around and play instead of sitting down to eat their lunch. So, it is not uncommon for lunchboxes to come home barely touched. When this happens, I like to offer their lunchbox foods for afternoon tea. It also helps to ask them why they didn’t eat their lunch. If it’s because they don’t like the food that was packed, then have a conversation with them about what foods they would like to see in their lunchbox. Getting them involved in the process and giving them some choice, helps them to get excited about their lunches. Now, of course, this is within reason, as a lot of children when asked what they would like in their lunchbox might ask for a whole bunch of unhealthy foods. But this then comes back to that conversation with your child about why it is important to eat healthy foods and how they help to keep us strong. 

My child is adamant about taking the same food to school every single day – is this okay? 

That is absolutely fine, if it is healthy food and they are enjoying it and eating it then that is a win. If you are worried that your child isn’t getting enough variety, you can try to add some variety to their breakfast or dinner meals. You can also try to add new foods in small amounts in their lunchbox that they can try if they want to but aren’t going to go hungry if they don’t touch it. Offering this exposure will help them to like more of a variety of foods in the long run.

Does my child need to take supplements if they’re eating a healthy and balanced diet? 

Your child can eat a healthy and balanced diet but still require supplementation. For example, if your child eats a healthy, balanced diet but they have ADHD, then your health professional would probably like to see them being supplemented with additional Omega 3 and Zinc. This is because this child has a specific condition that increases their requirement for these nutrients. Likewise, your child could be eating a healthy and balanced diet but shows up deficient in iron on a blood test. This can happen if there is an underlying cause, such as poor gut health, food intolerances or Coeliacs Disease. So, while your child is having a balanced and healthy diet, they can still become deficient in certain nutrients.  

However, if they are eating a healthy and balanced diet and they are healthy within themselves, with no obvious health conditions, then supplements probably won’t be necessary or overly helpful. 

What’s an easy after-school meal?

Kids often come home ravenous after a big day of school. My favourite thing to give to the kids to fill them up quickly (before hangry hits) are smoothies. Add frozen banana and berries, your favourite milk or Nature One Dairy formula, yoghurt, nut or seed butter and some sneaky baby spinach and blend until smooth and creamy! Smoothies are generally pretty popular among kids and can provide a big nutrient boost. 

Some other balanced foods to offer include apple slices spread with nut butter, a platter of cheese and crackers, veggie sticks and berries or a cup of homemade soup in the cooler months. 

About the author

Sarah Bell is a Nutritionist and healthy recipe developer. Being a mother of 3, Sarah is passionate about pediatric nutrition and turning fussy eaters into well-rounded eaters. She loves creating family-friendly recipes that are easy to make and taste delicious.
As a Nutritionist, Sarah knows the importance of gut health to our overall health and wellbeing. Because of this, she loves creating recipes using wholefood ingredients that promote good gut health and that are free from refined sugars.