Forget snack bars and chips, it-s milk, cheese and yogurt topping the lunchbox wish lists of Aussie kids according to a recent study.
With only one in five Australian kids consuming enough dairy to meet their calcium requirementsii, adding milk, cheese or yogurt to the lunchbox might be the easiest way of making sure kids get their three serves of dairy foods every day for healthy growth and development.
Dairy Australia Dietitian Glenys Zucco said this was great news for parents knowing nutritious dairy foods packed into the lunchbox won-t go uneaten.
'It-s important to offer children foods that are full of essential vitamins and minerals for healthy bodies, rather than less nutritious foods such as chips, soft drinks and snack bars that provide calories but little nutrition," Ms Zucco said.
'The school years are a time for building peak bone mass and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. As children get older their requirements for calcium increase, however research tells us their intake of calcium-rich foods such as dairy is not keeping up with these increased needs."
With summer upon us, Dairy Australia is urging parents to give their kids- diets the A+ treatment by not ditching dairy foods over the warmer months. Milk, cheese and yogurt can provide tasty, filling and refreshing options even when the heat hits.
To ensure kids get their three serves of dairy every day and the 10 essential nutrients it provides, Dairy Australia has a bunch of quick and easy lunchbox and snack tips for the warm weather:
Freeze flavoured milk – this will keep the rest of the lunchbox cool and also make for a healthy, refreshing drink. Remind kids to shake frozen milk before drinking it to ensure a smooth consistency
Cut a small slit in the lid of a tub of yogurt, insert an icy pole stick and freeze. Peel off the lid and kids can enjoy a frozen yogurt icy pole after school on a summer day!
Hard cheeses are great options in the warmer months, however as long as the lunchbox is kept chilled, any type of cheese can be included
Cheesy savoury muffins are an easy lunchbox filler and make a great alternative to soggy sandwiches when the temperature is high. Try ham, cheese and corn or cheese, chive and grated sweet potato
Cook extra at dinner the night before and save some for lunch the next day. Pasta salad, quiche and homemade pizza slices can be eaten cold and make a lunch that will keep well in warmer weather.
Lunchbox food safety is particularly important in the warmer months. In most cases food is stored in lunchboxes for several hours so the contents need to stay cool.
Follow these handy food safety tips to help keep your child-s lunchbox safe:
It may seem obvious but a freezer pack and insulated lunchbox is one of the best ways to keep food nicely chilled
Always follow the Use By and Best Before dates and storage advice for dairy products
Prevent sandwich fillings from drying out by leaving them uncut. Some fillings such as dips and cream cheese may stay fresher this way
UHT milks are a great option to include in the lunch box as they don't need to be kept cold.
Upping children-s dairy intake has positive benefits both now and in years to come. Dairy packs a calcium and protein punch, so be sure to fill up your kids- lunchboxes with nutritious foods to help get them through the day.
Visit www.dairyaustralia.com.au/kidsneed3 for more information on the importance of dairy foods for kids as well as simple tips, recipes and an interactive calcium calculator.
Dairy Myth Busters
Here's a quick check list of what's fact and what's fiction when it comes to dairy foods and good health:
Avoiding or removing dairy foods from your diet may mean you miss out on your recommended daily amount of many vitamins and minerals essential for good health
Australian primary school kids aren't getting enough dairy foods to meet their daily requirements for calcium
Kids need more calcium as they get older, not less. Kids aged 4-8 years need 700mg of calcium/day and kids aged 9-13 years need between 1000mg and 1300mg of calcium/day to meet their daily requirements for building and maintaining healthy bones. As a comparison, 1-3 year olds require only 500mg of calcium daily
Kids need 3 serves of dairy foods every day to meet their calcium needs. One serve equals one glass of milk (250mL), a small tub of yogurt (200g) or two slices of cheese (40g).
Myth:Reduced fat dairy products are suitable for children of all ages
Busted: Reduced fat dairy products supply just as much calcium as the full fat versions of dairy foods. However, low fat diets are not recommended for children under two years of age. Babies and young children grow very rapidly and need the fat supplied in whole milk, cheese and yogurt to provide the energy they need for growth and development. Reduced fat dairy products can be introduced after two years of age. Find out more about kids' nutrition at: www.dairyaustralia.com.au/kidsneed3
Myth: Flavoured milks are bad for kids
Busted: Flavoured milk is a nutrient-rich beverage providing the same ten essential nutrients as plain milk, and containing about the same amount of sugar as an equal serve of unsweetened orange juice. Studies have shown that children who drink flavoured milk have lower intake of soft drinks, meet more of their nutrient requirements and are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.i An added advantage is that like some sports drinks, flavoured milk contains carbohydrates, fluids and electrolytes, making it an ideal rehydration and recovery drink for active kids, with the calcium bone building benefits too.
Myth:Children who have difficulty digesting lactose should avoid dairy products
Busted: Dairy foods don't need to be cut out of children's diets if they have difficulty digesting the carbohydrate lactose in milk. Most children who are lactose intolerant can drink up to two glasses of milk a day without symptoms of intolerance if they are consumed at separate meal times. Most cheeses contain virtually no lactose and yogurt contains good bacteria that can actually help to digest lactose. Low lactose and lactose free milks are also available for children who are particularly sensitive.
Myth:Milk causes mucus
Busted: Research tells us that milk does not cause mucus production. Some children may experience a thin, temporary coating over the mouth and throat after drinking milk but this is simply milk's natural creamy texture. This is not harmful and the sensation lasts for only a short period of time.
Myth: Dairy foods cause asthma
Busted: According to the National Asthma Council Australia there is no convincing scientific evidence to link dairy foods with asthma. In fact, there is evidence that regular consumption of dairy foods may help protect against asthma. For more on dairy and asthma visit: Asthma Fact Sheet
Myth: Calcium from nuts and vegetables can replace calcium from milk
Busted: It is a common misconception that vegetables and nuts are a rich source of calcium. Whilst these foods are packed with other nutrients, research has shown that it's difficult to rely on plant foods to meet daily calcium needs. Dairy foods (such as milk, yogurt and cheese) are the richest source of calcium in the Australian diet and a convenient and tasty way too! Three serves of dairy each day provides most people with their recommended daily calcium intake. A serve of dairy is equal to a glass of milk (250mL), a small tub of yogurt (200g) or two slices of cheese (40g). To get the same amount of calcium as one serve of dairy, you need to eat 32 Brussels sprouts, 21 cups of raw chopped spinach, 11 cups of diced sweet potato, 6 cups of shredded green cabbage, 5 cups of cooked broccoli or 1 cup of dry roasted almonds.