by Amanda Kane & Tanya Fleming from Pinkfarm
When packing our children’s lunch boxes we prioritise quality over quantity. The modest quantity of lunch given to our children is intensified by the nutrient dense, quality food choices we provide them with.
What is nutrient density? Nutrient dense foods are unrefined, unprocessed and made from whole food ingredients. They pack a punch by giving the most bang for their buck. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals, and are often rich with protein and fat providing essential fuel for the body. When choosing food for lunches we believe it is more than just providing energy and curbing hunger for our little ones. More importantly, it’s about nourishing their body on a cellular level to optimize growth, vitality and performance.
Unfortunately many children today are overfed yet undernourished and we don’t need a research paper to prove that. When observing the school playgrounds it is obvious that we are in an epidemic of childhood obesity and chronic disease; diseases that were once only aligned with adults. Humans are resilient and children are existing on empty caloric, sugary junk foods. But we want our children to do more than just survive. We want them to thrive.
Without key nutrients, full development may be delayed, interrupted or never realized. We want to provide our children the best possible start in life, optimising their physical, mental and emotional development. Packing a nutrient dense lunchbox is essential in providing these building blocks for a child to thrive.
As mentioned, nutrient dense foods are often high in protein and fat. Eating protein, especially from animal sources, means increased energy levels, sharper focus and feeling full for longer. The protein boosts the body’s energizing neurotransmitters Dopamine & Acetylcholine. The neurotransmitter Dopamine is synthesized from Tyrosine in high protein foods and it is Dopamine that gives us the ability to focus & improves our mental clarity and drive. Eating protein also boosts Acetylcholine and this in turn enhances memory and brain function.
A protein filled lunch box that can provide energy, nourishment and better concentration- what more could we want for our children?
Including healthy fats in our children’s lunchboxes is also an essential component of a lunch to thrive. These fats from animal sources such as pasture raised meat, eggs, full fat dairy, wild caught fish and traditional fats like butter, lard, tallow & coconut oil play an important role in our body chemistry, particularly for growing children. Saturated fats are an important source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K. These nutrients maintain a healthy immune system; help build strong muscles and bones; protect against infection; promote normal cell function & are essential for lung, heart and kidney health.
Consuming healthy fats will contribute to more improved and predictable behavior in children by stablising blood sugar levels for longer periods throughout the day. This helps prevent sugar highs and lows which in turn maintains more stable moods and leads to less erratic behavior patterns. In addition to providing essential nutrients and stablising blood sugar levels, healthy fats are also satiating and provide a sustainable energy source.
So what does this nutrient dense lunch box look like? Pinkfarm can provide you with many suggestions, recipes and creative ideas for providing a pack a punch lunch to thrive.
We are two friends on a real food journey challenging politically correct nutrition; learning, sharing, creating and inspiring. Tanya (Farmer), a country girl living on a farm on the beautiful Atherton Tablelands with a bustling house of 5 children and Amanda (Pinky) city girl living in a metro Sydney townhouse with 1 beautiful son.
With playground names like Pinky and Farmer we were destined to lead two contrasting lives, and that we do! However, in the past 3 years, our life journeys have intertwined more than ever. Pinky embarked on the journey of motherhood for the first time and Farmer gave birth to her 5th child.
We have focused on incorporating traditional foods, cultured foods and healthy fats into our daily lives and inspired each other to walk the talk. Our practice has revealed that what we eat and feed our children matters, it matters a lot!
Tanya has a Bachelor of Nursing Science. a Certificate of Midwifery and a Graduate Diploma in Childbirth Education. She has practiced midwifery partime for 15 years in between raising 5 children. Farmer’s passion for food and its ability to heal and nourish is the driving force behind her every day life in the kitchen. She has future plans to do more study in nutrition and gut health.
Amanda has a Bachelor of Education and Masters of Literacy and has worked as a teacher and literacy consultant for 17 years. Amanda’s journey into parenthood has ignited her enthusiasm and passion for food and its connection to health. She has plans to complete her Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional Medicine.
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