Reducing salt, fat and sugar

When you are choosing food’s for your child’s lunchbox, always try to watch out for the levels of salt, fat and sugar. If you are buying foods, you can find out how much salt, fat and sugar they contain by looking at the label.

Reducing salt

  • Always check food labels for the salt or sodium content. If sodium is listed and you want to convert this to salt, you multiply the sodium figure by 2.5.
  • A product is high in salt if it contains 1.5g or more of salt per 100g or 0.6g or more of sodium per 100g. A product is low in salt if it contains 0.3g or less of salt per 100g; or 0.1g less of sodium.
  • Cut down on foods that are often high in salt, such as processed meat, cheese and smoked fish.
  • If you make your own foods (e.g. pasta, quiche and bread) for your child’s lunchbox, try to use less salt or leave it out altogether.

Reducing fat

  • Always check the food label for fat content. As a guide, a food is high in fat if it contains 20g or more of fat per 100g. It is low in fat if it contains 3g or less per 100g.
  • A food is high in saturated fat (also known as saturates) if it contains 5g or more per 100g; – and is low in saturated fat if it contains 1.5g or less pr 100g.
  • Use butter, margarine, mayonnaise or salad dressings sparingly, because these can be high in fat, or choose low-fat spreads instead.
  • Use full-fat cheese or cheese spreads sparingly.
  • Watch out for meat pies, pasties, fried foods and salami because these tend to be high in fat.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat and take the skin of chicken.

Reducing sugar

  • Always read the label of any food you are buying for your child’s lunchbox. Some foods can contain sugar that you might not expect to contain it.
  • A product is high in sugar if it contains 15g or more of sugar per 100g. A product is low in sugar if it contains 5g or less per 100g.
  • Watch out for the ingredients list for other words used to describe sugar, such as sucrose, glucose (syrup), fructose, hydrolysed starch and invert sugar. The higher up the ingredients list they come, the higher in sugar the foods are.
  • For drinks, go for still/sparkling water, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, unsweetened juice and/or smoothies or yoghurt drinks; – rather than squashes and sweet fizzy drinks.
  • Instead of chocolate, give your child fresh or dried fruit to snack on. Alternatively, you could try sunflower and pumpkin seeds or vegetable sticks and cherry tomatoes.
  • If you bake at home for your child’s lunchbox, cut down on the sugar that you add. Try using fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apricots, raisins or fruit purees to add sweetness.

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