Back to School Lunches

by Laura Reid, Dietitian

It is that busy time of year again, back to school for kids (big and small) and teachers too!  Packing lunches can be stressful or fun, depending on how you approach it.




There are lots of pictures and ideas for lunch ideas for little ones, and they are very cute and fancy…but they are out of my league (and time commitment)!  If you don’t have time to worry about cut-out shapes and forming food into a sculpture, don’t stress yourself!  The most important thing is finding foods your child will eat, and finding things that are quick and easy to eat in the short time available for lunch.  Lunch at my daughter’s school is about 15 minutes.  That’s it.  So our priority is not that her meal looks like a teddy bear, but that it is in small, easy bites and pieces that are easy for her to grab and go.  You or your child may not be in elementary school like my daughter, but I am sure time is still an issue!   My words of advice are to brainstorm a list of foods that are options for lunch, including snacks, drinks and the main focus of the meal.  Involve everyone in making the list of foods, and be sure to do so before you hit the grocery store.  If you are looking to save money, buy items in larger portions (rather than individual sizes) and portion out into containers (for example, buy a large container of apple sauce or yogurt and portion it into the container when you are packing the lunch (the night before to save time).  Try to include choices from different food groups to not only help meet their nutrition needs, but also to add variety.   One trick I use is to have four compartments or small containers in the lunch box to remind me to include a fruit, a vegetable, a grain and protein (usually put together), and something fun.

school lunches

For the main focus of the meal, change it up from day to day:  hot items on one day by using a thermos for leftovers (my daughter’s picks include soup, chili, and pasta) or items that should be kept cold on other days (like wraps, salads, mini pizzas or sandwiches).  Just be sure to use an ice pack!

sandwich 3One final tip:  include a small bottle of hand sanitizer or a wet wipe in the lunch box for cleaning hands before eating.

laura reid

Laura Reid      Dietitian, MEd,PDt  StFX, Antigonish, NS


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5 Ways to Combat the Winter Blues with Food


by Ella Besserer and Laura Reid, Dietician

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood or depression disorder. It happens when the seasons change from spring & summer, to fall & winter1. Many studies have found that changes in lifestyle and nutrition can have improve our mood. Changes include:


1. Increasing omega-3 fatty acids

These nutrients have a huge impact on brain health. Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids include fish, walnuts, flax and enriched eggs1.


2. Getting enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D is very important for many aspects of health. One of the most important being bone health. Food source of Vitamin D include fatty fish, eggs, fortified milk. A Vitamin D supplement may be needed in Canada1.


3. Balancing diet and lifestyle

The Canada’s Food Guide can help keep things balanced. Make sure you are eating enough fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and protein. These food groups keep us energized and improve our mood.



4. Eating foods that break down slowly

Food that we put in our body that is processed is like putting woodchips on a fire. The woodchips get burned up very quickly in the body. This can lead to being tired and weight gain1. Try and eat foods such as whole grains, oatmeal, and brown rice for example. They break down more slowly in the body and provide more energy during the day1.



5. Exercising everyday

Try to get 30 minutes of exercise daily. Exercise outdoors for fresh air and sunlight. Remember to fuel up with fruits and veggies. Why not make a smoothie? It’s a great way to get the maximum amount of nutrients from a variety of foods you like …and can even blend in nutritious foods that you might not like.



Other foods that are good for fighting off the winter blues include: clementines, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and lastly cauliflower2.




Ella Besserer, BSc HNU Dietetic Intern




1Danahy, A. (2015). Seasonal affective disorder: Diet and lifestyle. Retrieved from

2 Cording, J. (2015). The best winter foods for kids. Retrieved from


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