wholesome foods

Packing a Gut Friendly Lunchbox

Holy Moly – here we are again. Back to school and packing lunches.  It was fabulous to have a break from it, but I’m keen to get back into all things routine until I’m not again! Lol.

Today’s article will be short and sharp.

We are all busy doing the best we can, but let’s not forget that the health of our children is in our hands. We have such a short period of time to have a profound effect on the foundation of their health, and that is primarily through nutrition and wellness practices. For the purpose of today, the focus will be on nutrition.

You can listen to the audio summary of the article here:

Here are some of my top tips for packing a gut friendly lunchbox:

  1. Wholefood ingredients AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE is the first start. Look at what you are currently packing and ask how can you improve it from there. Just start somewhere.
  2. Make the base ingredients the best quality you can afford. For example:
    1. Use sourdough bread instead of conventional commercial baked bread to avoid the plethora of additives and preservatives
    2. Use spelt bread for a lower gluten load
    3. Try making your own loaf from time to time using quality ingredients
    4. Use good quality grassfed butter, even better, make it organic – AVOID MARGARINE AT ALL COSTS, even the so called “healthy ones”
    5. Check the ingredients of cheese, it should only contain 4 ingredients, NOTHING ELSE. Stay away from the plastic wrapped cheese....need I say more?
  3. Do not be afraid to use butter liberally (if it can be tolerated of course)– it contains amazing fat soluble vitamins that is needed for optimal development, not to mention great for cellular health and stabilisation of blood sugar levels. I know what you are going to say next, but it doesn't spread that easily. Solution - take it out 2 minutes before you need it - PROBLEM FIXED - USE REAL BUTTER
  4. Instead of a packaged/processed item for recess, include a homemade baked goodie. When using quality ingredients and wholefood sweeteners (in moderation) these actually provide nutrients rather just empty calories and a chemical sh&t storm. Try out a new recipe at home for a snack or on the weekend BEFORE putting it into the lunchbox.
  5. Use left-overs where ever you can, either as a sandwich filling or in a thermos container
  6. If you are incorporating a packaged item of some sort - CHECK THE LABEL. Ask yourself, will my child's body recognise these ingredients as a food?
  7. Avoid those sugar laddened poppers claiming to be healthy. Did you know one 250ml popper can contain 5-7 tsp of sugar??!!!! There is nothing wrong with water. Make fruit infused water if they need some flavour
  8. If you are wanting to move to a more wholefood lunchbox, include food items your child will like. For example, if I was to put a blueberry muffin into my son’s box, I can guarantee you it will not be eaten. Put in a savoury type muffin and it will be gobbled up. Vice versa with my daughter.
  9. Lastly, but most importantly.....PLAN IT & BATCH IT. I am not even going to pretend that it is super simple and easy to just whip up healthy nourishing lunchboxes EVERYDAY for weeks on end. However, you can simplify and move through it with ease by planning first and foremost and then batching it.

To combat the issue of the food not eaten or going to waste. I have a rule – “What is not eaten at school will be eaten as a snack when they get home BEFORE anything else is provided” I am very firm with this and so far this has worked really well.

To help you with some inspiration beyond the humble sandwich, I’ve put together a Snacks & Lunches Guide that provides 26 Snack & lunch ideas (sweet & savoury) and 10 of my favourite recipes that are well recycled and on high rotation in my house. The majority of the recipes are freezer & batch cooking friendly.

Click on the BUTTON below to get it delivered straight to your inbox.

Chantal1 smaller.png

Chantal is a Certified Nutrition & Wellness Coach with a special interest helping stressed and overwhelmed parents implement gut healing protocols using a personalised step by step approach to improve the health of their family.

The problem with commercial breakfast cereal

So you think the breakfast cereal you got from the supermarket is OK? Well think again. There is very little, with next to nothing in terms of nutrition in them.

But it's fortified with vitamins and minerals I here you say. I used to think that too until I started understanding what nutrition actually is. You see, the body ONLY recognises vitamins and minerals in a wholefood form.

Firstly, lets address how a cereal is manufactured.

According to Authority Nutrition, this is how a commercial breakfast cereal is typically made:

  1. Processed –grains are usually processed into a fine flour and cooked
  2. Mixed – Mixed with water, sugar and other ingredients to flavour
  3. Extrusion – A high temperature process to shape the cereal, called extrusion
  4. Dried – Then it is dried
  5. Shaped – and finally shaped into balls, puffs, loops, stars etc

Given the process described above, not only are they highly processed, but they also contain large amounts of refined carbohydrates, refined sugars and plenty of other flavours and additives. This is not conducive to a wholefood, let alone improving general and gut health.

Not only is the manufacturing process an issue, there is also the issue of the marketing claims on the front of the box. If a food is truly healthy, there is no need to make health claims.

If a boxed commercial cereal must remain your preferred choice of breakfast, then please read the labels carefully. Some principles to consider:

  • Can you understand the ingredient list? Does it make sense?
  • Is it free of artificial colours & flavouring ? These are the biggies to look out for:
    • Artificial Colours (102, 104, 107, 110, 120, 120, 122-129, 132, 142, 150, 151, 155, 160b))
    • Artificial Flavouring (620-625, 627, 631, 635, Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein (HVP), Hydrolysed Soy Protein (HSP), Soy Protein Isolate(SPI), Textured Vegetable Protein (TV P))
  • Check the sugar content, aim for less than 5g of sugar per 100mg
  • Check the serving size. Most cereals will say that a serving size is 30-40g, however when you actually measure that out, you will find that 3-4 times that amount is needed as a decent breakfast portion, therefore the sugar content will need to be multiplied by that amount. All of the sudden, your sugar content is not looking so great.

So what are my options I hear you say. I'm busy, I don't have time to prepare a gourmet breakfast everyday. That's OK, neither do I, and really, who does....lol

If you did decide to ditch the boxed versions, here are some wholefood options instead:

  1. Eggs any which way you want, scrambled, boiled, poached, baked
  2. Home-made granola with a beautiful array of nuts and seeds either served with a milk or yoghurt of your choice, even better use a dairy free option
  3. Smoothie – just add a liquid + fruit + vegetable + protein + fat + superfood powder (optional)
  4. Overnight soaked oats, preferably using uncontaminated oats from here
  5. Chia-puddings made with any high quality milk of your choice
  6.  Baked Breakfast muffins, grain or grain free
  7. Quinoa or millet porridge with dates & nuts (good alternative to oats)
  8. Breakfast cakes made with wholesome ingredients. See my grain free cake one here
  9. Grain or grainfree pancakes.
  10. Leftovers from the night before. Especially in winter, my son will often ask for leftovers for breakfast

All of these options possess the following properties:

  • Made from wholefood ingredients the body can recognise
  • Can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge or freezer for a grab & go or re-heat
  • Contains the right balance of macro ingredients of fats, proteins & carbohydrates.

As a gift to get you started on a wholefood breakfast option, I've put together 5 of our favourite breakfast recipes that are loved in our home.


If you think you or your family could benefit from transitioning to a healing wholefood lifestyle, get in contact with me today for your FREE Health Mapping Session.

Chantal is a Certified Nutrition & Wellness Coach that specialises in helping stressed and overwhelmed mums heal their children with wholefoods using a personalised wholistic step by step approach.