In Summary
  • Give your child variety. No one likes to eat the same meal everyday. Keep it exciting and mix it up. If your children’s school allows students to heat up their lunches, do not forget to utilize any yummy leftovers.

Packing lunch for school going children has been a common practice in Uganda. Whether to pack lunch for your child or let them eat one at school is a matter of debate. Some parents say they prefer their children eating school food while others would want to prepare their children’s food themselves. Shakilah Katuutu, a parent notes of how most schools do not mind about diet and will feed children on any type of food they come across without thinking about the nutrition part of it.

Giving a child money to buy food at school is less tiresome and simple but has significant effects on a child’s diet as they will always opt for snacks. Katuutu notes that a parent knows what is best for their children and that is what they will pack for them.

“Most school canteens will not mind about diet and all they will prepare are things children like, such as fries, chicken among others. They won’t even put a simple vegetable because they know children hate them,” she adds. To Katutu, homemade food creates a strong bond between a parent and child hence creating long lasting memories.

The kind of foods to give Lilian Nakayiki Nyanzi a nutritionist at Neulife Medical Centre, Bweyogerere, notes that foods rich in Omega 3 fatty acids are essential body fats that are found in fish products and avocado as well. They are healthier fatty acids required by the body for brain functioning, retaining moisture and strengthening the skin barriers. They are healthier for the heart too.

She adds that parents should feed their child on plenty of nuts such as ground nuts, simsim, coconuts, and all other types of nuts because they are healthier food options. They contain Vitamin E which protects the skin from Oxidative cell damage by fighting against free radicals (cancerous particles) that may accumulate in the body.

“Feed them on fresh fruits, fresh fruit juices and green leafy vegetables; one should eat at least 3 fruit servings per day or even drink fresh fruit juices to ensure that they obtain the nutritional benefits in the fruits,” Nyanzi says. Fruits contain a variety of vitamins relevant for a healthy body. Such vitamins include; Vitamin C, E, A. Vitamin C is necessary for the regular manufacturing and repairing of tissue cells as well as aiding in the production of the collagen protein. Collagen protein is necessary for the development of the body tissue cells.

Gorret Betty Mbabazi, a Nurse with God’s Mercy Clinic in Kampala recommends calcium-rich food for bone development such as yoghurt, seeds, cheese, beans, among others.
Mbabazi also recommends that parents encourage their children to drink plenty of water by packing it for them. Six- 8 glasses of water per day is what is recommended for a normal human being but you can pack for them two to three cups. She adds water helps rehydrate the body and prevents dehydration especially during dry seasons.

She adds that home lunch will help you control your child’s growth modes mentally and physically as you choose what to feed them on.

Importance of healthy eating
Margret Tumusiime a teacher and counselor notes that children who eat healthy especially those fed on brain boosting foods will always perform better at school. They are bright and are always active compared those that feed on junk foods or go without lunch.

She adds that schools can also prepare health foods for their children by controlling the food portions prepared at school and giving their children a balanced diet with greens and fruits.
Mbabazi adds that parents shouldn’t pack processed foods for their children as these are a harm to their health.

“Healthy eating reduces on risk of diseases like cancer, obesity among others and constant sickness in children as it improves their immunity,” she says

Reasons to pack lunch
You get to teach your child nutrition tips which they will carry on in future
It reduces on the costs of buying food at school
It will help a child keep healthy and reduce on the risk of disease contraction
It create everlasting memories to a child even in their adulthood

zkarungi@ug.nationmedia.com