Parents and carers are often called the ‘nutritional gatekeepers’ in the home, meaning that they hold the biggest food influence on the lives of their children and also their partners. For some, food preparation can be an onerous task that seems never ending. In this section of our website you will find many useful tips and general ideas that can make the task easier and help you to ensure all the members of your household are receiving the best possible nutrition.
The ABCD of packing healthy lunchboxes
Choosing items from each of the five food groups will give children all the nutrition they need to play and to learn for the whole school day. Download the ABCD flyer (A4) or ABCD poster (A3) to help make this task a little easier.
The ABCD flyer has recently been translated for those families where English as an additional language or dialect (EALD/D), see a full list below.
For additional resources for EALD/D families see the Department of Education’s EALD/D page .
Lunchbox and after school snack resources
Use the menu planner for ideas and to help with the planning.
When planning, it is important to select a food item from each of the core food groups, that way you are guaranteed to provide a healthy balanced lunchbox. The five food groups from the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
For lunchbox ideas and recipes as well as ways to keep the lunchbox cool and safe in summer download the ‘Packed with goodness’ booklet from LiveLighter
Lunchbox rewards and treats don’t always have to be something tangible. Try planning a special after school excursions like a visit to the park, special play activity at home or simply words of encouragement. You can also print out our sheet of notes and jokes to use in your child’s lunchbox.
After school snacks should be just as healthy as those that go into lunchboxes, for healthy ideas see our top ten list here; cut the list out and place it on the fridge as a daily reminder.
LiveLighter for families
Small changes can help get the whole family eating healthy and moving more whilst saving time and money! Use LiveLighter for Families to develop healthy habits to help your family reach Australian standard guidelines for physical activity and nutrition and save you money and time in the process. Discover delicious meals the whole family will enjoy, and tips on how to make the most of your time and money at school, home, and when you’re out and about.
Reading nutrition information panels
On food labels in Australia and New Zealand, nutrition figures are presented in a standard table format called the Nutrition Information Panel or NIP. This shows quantities per serve and per 100g it is an invaluable tool to assess how nutritious the food may be. However understanding exactly what it means can be tricky. The Reading Food Labels poster developed by FSANZ clearly explains all the elements in a simple way. Also, you may have heard about the new Country of origin labelling – Catherine Saxelby, one of Australias leading nutrition experts, breaks this down in her blog.
The Eat for Health website has useful information to help you navigate your way around a label. You can also download a handy card to be printed and cut out for your wallet. Use it as an easy reference guide when shopping.
Basic label reading tips :
- Ingredients are listed in order of weight so if sugar is listed first or second this is probably not a healthy choice
- Compare products using the 100g column of the nutrition information panel rather than ‘per serve’ as each product serve size may vary
- When comparing similar products choose those higher in fibre and lower in saturated fat, sodium (salt) and sugar
- Terms such as ‘Lite’, ‘Light’, ‘Sugar free’ and ‘no added sugar’ can sometimes be deceiving. To see if this product is a healthier choice compare it to another similar product.
And the biggest tip of all… Some of the healthiest products are those that have no labels such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Vegetarian diets are becoming more and more popular. If you feel a little out of your depth when it comes to making sure your family members are still receiving all the vital nutrients they need from a meat free diet see out Vegetarian fact sheet. Plus our recipe page has loads of vegetarian options.
Resources and links
‘Getting Kids to Eat Well’ by Glenn Cardwell is a fantastic quick read that will put feeding kids in perspective. The book, plus other information are all available from Glenn’s website.
We all know how important dairy foods are for growing strong bones. Dairy Australia has a wealth of information and great recipes.
Heart Foundation has a range of healthy and delicious recipes and many lunchbox tips to inspire you.
Parents Voice is “your voice on food and activity”. They regularly run advocacy campaigns around children’s food and physical activity issues; represent their members’ collective voice in the media; and lobby governments, food manufacturers and key decision makers for improvements.
Foodbank WA also run great nutrition programs in schools that have amazing recipes for you to try at home, check out their Food Sensations program here.
The Better Health Company run a free, fun healthy lifestyle program for children aged 7-13 years who are above a healthy weight and their parents/ carers.