Cut school lunchbox ‘baddies’ of sugar, salt and fat with healthier alternatives your kids will actually eat

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THE new school term is fast approaching – and with it the daily scramble to prepare kids’ lunchboxes.

But not all snacks aimed at little ones’ lunches are as healthy as you might think.

Just a few simple lunchbox swaps can dramatically cut your child’s sugar, salt and fat intake
Getty – Contributor

Just a few simple lunchbox ‘swaps’ can dramatically cut your child’s sugar, salt and fat intake[/caption]

A recent study found that most lunchboxes contain twice as much sugar as is healthy, with a whopping 13 teaspoons in some.

The daily recommended maximum for seven to ten-year-olds is six teaspoons.

But just a few simple “swaps” can dramatically cut your child’s sugar, salt and fat intake.

And nutritionist Amanda Ursell reckons you can do it without children even noticing . . .

Squashy switch

Munch Bunch strawberry and raspberry Squashums for Petit Filous strawberry and raspberry fromage frais

SWAP: Munch Bunch strawberry and raspberry Squashums (56cals, 7.9g sugar, 1.6g fat, 0.2g salt)

£1.97 for 6

FOR: Petit Filous strawberry and raspberry fromage frais (41cals, 4.6g sugar, 1.2g fat, 0.05g salt)

£1 for 6

Amanda says: “The sugar content falls from almost 8g to 4.6g per serving which makes this a good switch.

“Petit Filous boasts the same amount of calcium and has added vitamin D, which will help the calcium be well absorbed into the body and so be used for building strong bones.

“And Petit Filous  also cost less than Squashums.”

You’re barred

Nature’s Valley crunchy granola oats and honey bars for Boka caramel cereal bar

SWAP: Nature’s Valley crunchy granola oats and honey bars (192cals, 12g sugar, 7.2g fat, 0.3g salt)

£2.40 for 5 bars

FOR: Boka caramel cereal bar (89 calories, 1.2g sugar, 0.8g fat, 0.1g salt)

£2.50 for 4 bars

Amanda says: “While the Nature’s Valley bar stacks up almost two-thirds of a four-to-six-year-old’s maximum sugar for a day, the Boka bars boast “all green traffic lights” – which means they are low in salt, fat, saturated fat and sugar, with only 1.2g of sugar per bar.

“They are also high in fibre, with 6g per bar – over a quarter of a five-to-11-year-old child’s daily goal.”

Cheesy snacks

Sainsbury’s cheese puffs for Hippeas chickpea puffs cheese and love flavour

SWAP: Sainsbury’s cheese puffs (91cals,  1.2g sugar, 5.6g fat, 0.3g salt)

85p for 6 bags

FOR: Hippeas chickpea puffs cheese and love flavour (90cals, 0.6g sugar, 3.8g fat, 0.2g salt)

£3 for 4 packs

Amanda says: “Hippeas are more expensive gram for gram than the cheese puffs but they pack in  three times the protein and 17 times the fibre.

“They also  have less salt and half the sugars, so you more than make up the difference in price with the extra nutritional punch.”

Crisp trade

Morrisons ready salted crisps for Morrisons salted popcorn

SWAP: Morrisons ready salted crisps (136cals, trace of sugar, 8.5g fat, 0.3g salt)

85p for 6 bags

FOR: Morrisons salted popcorn (130cals, 0.1g sugar, 4.8g fat, 0.2g salt)

£1 per 100g bag

Amanda says: “With little difference in the calories, the popcorn has 4g less total fat, while providing almost 3g more fibre.

“The popcorn is also slightly lower in salt. The higher fibre content will mean the popcorn is more filling,  helping to keep afternoon hunger pangs at bay more efficiently than crisps.”

Choc biccies

McVitie’s Fruit Club for McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes

SWAP: McVitie’s Fruit Club (119cals, 10g sugar, 5.9g fat, 0.1g salt)

£1 for 8 biscuits

FOR: McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes (46cals, 6.4g sugar, 1g fat, 0.03g salt)

£1.05 for 10 cakes

Amanda says: “One Jaffa cake is just 46 calories and it contains 3.6g less sugar than the Club biscuit.

“It’s also four grams lower in fat, so a great choice if you want to include a sweet treat in your kid’s lunch box.”

Meaty moments

Peparami for Mattessons Fridge Raiders Roast Chicken Bites

SWAP: Peparami (112 cals, 0.5g sugar, 9.9g fat, 0.9g salt)

£2.75 for 5 sticks

FOR: Mattessons Fridge Raiders Roast Chicken Bites (124 cals; 0.5g sugar, 7g fat, 0.9g salt)

£1.29 for a 60g bag

Amanda says: “Even though the Peparami is almost two-thirds lighter than the Roast Chicken Bites, the bites only provide 12 calories more per portion. In addition, the chicken bites have less fat and saturated fat and more than double the protein.

“They are neck and neck for salt, which at 0.9g is almost a third of a four to six-year-old’s limit for the day and almost 20 per cent for a child aged seven to ten.”

String theory

Dairylea Ritz Dunkers for Cheestrings Twisted Cheese Snacks

SWAP: Dairylea Ritz Dunkers (118cals, 3.6g sugar, 5.6g fat, 0.6g salt)

£3.20 for 6 tubs

FOR: Cheestrings Twisted Cheese Snacks (61cals, 0.2g sugar, 4.5g fat, 0.4g salt)

£2 for 8 strings

Amanda says: “The Cheestrings look and feel really appealing to children. Plus, they tick the calcium requirements for kids’ lunchboxes. It’s needed for strong  bones, the growth of robust teeth and for helping muscles to work well.

“You could add an oatcake to make up for the lack of Ritz biscuits. They are lower in salt and more slowly digested.”


Dodging sugar

Jammie Dodger Minis for Fruit Bowl School Bars strawberry

SWAP: Jammie Dodger Minis (89cals, 5.6g sugar, 3g fat, 0.02g salt)

£1.00 for 6 packs

FOR: Fruit Bowl School Bars strawberry (69cals, 7g sugar, 1.2g fat, 0.1g salt)

£1.85 for 5 bars

Amanda says: “The fruit bars have a little more ‘total’ sugar, but some of this comes from dried apple, pureed apple and fruit juice. So not all of it counts towards a child’s total added sugars for the day.

“All of the sugars in the biscuits however are ‘added sugars’ and do count towards  daily maximums.

“The fruit bars also count as one of a child’s ‘five a day’.”