Diabetes is one of the biggest challenges facing Australia’s health system, with 280 Australians being diagnosed with diabetes every day. If left unchecked it will become the number one cost to the Australian health system in the next five years. While adults developing type 2 make up the majority of cases, there has been a concerning rise in the number of young people facing a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
Type 2 diabetes was previously seen only in middle age or older adults. However, with the rise of obesity in children, it is now being increasingly diagnosed in young people, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth and children with non-European backgrounds.
Type 2 diabetes is serious and can cause long-term complications. Unlike type 1 diabetes, the early development of type 2 diabetes in young people is preventable with healthy lifestyle changes.
Healthy eating is not a new concept but its significance continues to grow. The importance of instilling good eating habits in young children can’t be underestimated. Parents and carers can make a huge difference to the health of their children and the future of the nation by making the right healthy eating choices for their children.
With many schools embracing healthy food guidelines and introducing programs such as Life Education’s All Systems Go and Healthy Harold, Healthy Me, encouraging healthy eating habits in your children is well supported.
When making your child’s lunchbox a good reference is to pack food from the Go, Grow and Glow categories. ‘Go’ foods give kids the energy to “go go go”. ‘Grow’ foods give them the protein, calcium and iron to grow healthy muscles, bones and teeth. ‘Glow’ foods keep their insides nice and clean, the immune system strong and work like sunscreen on the inside, protecting their body’s defenses so they can fight off bugs and viruses and giving their skin and hair a healthy glow…
Go lunchbox ideas: sandwiches made with wholegrain breads, wraps or crackers. If your child point blank refuses to eat wholegrain breads then choose white breads with added fibre.
Other GO options include rice paper rolls or brown sushi rolls filled with healthy GROW and GLOW ingredients ie no fried or crumbed fillings
Grow lunchbox ideas: boiled eggs, reduced fat cheese and yoghurt, hummus with GLOW vegie sticks or used as a spread. Healthy ‘GROW’ sandwich fillings include skinless and shredded chicken, turkey or roast beef.
Glow lunchbox ideas: carrot sticks, uncooked green beans, uncooked sugar snap peas, capsicum sticks, cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks, fruit (try freezing overnight for a refreshing summer snack) or Healthy GLOW sandwich fillings such as grated carrot, lettuce, tomatoes and sliced celery.
Healthy snack foods could include a serve of fresh or frozen fruit such as grapes or pineapple or mango pieces, air popped popcorn, sultanas or dried apricots, a tub of low fat yoghurt (or partially freeze the tub as an ice cream alternative), a slice or two of high fibre raisin toast/bread or homemade healthy high fibre mini muffins or scones
Kids love fun foods – try and get as much colour into the lunchbox as you can, and add a novelty touch by using a cookie cutter to make sandwiches into different shapes. Fruit kebabs, frozen fruit and apple slinkies give an extra va va voom to everyday fruit. Of course we don’t always have time to go to such lengths, so the best way to get your kids eating healthily is to start them early – that way they won’t know any different (well not for a while anyway).