· By Julia Boase

Supporting Your Child's Immunity This Winter: Key Foods to Include in Their Lunch Boxes

As winter sets in and flu season peaks, I often see parents concerned about keeping their children healthy. One of the most effective ways to support their immune system is through proper nutrition. Your child's immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs, with about 70% of immune function centred in the gut. This makes their diet incredibly important for maintaining a strong immune defence.

A healthy gut microbiome is crucial for optimal immune function. A diverse gut microbiome, rich in beneficial bacteria, can be supported by a varied diet high in fibre, and prebiotics. Key nutrients that support your immune system include vitamin C, vitamin D, iron and zinc. Here are some food ideas that deliver these nutrients and are perfect for winter lunches and snacks.

1. Berries

I don't really believe in super foods, but if I did berries would be right up there. Berries such as strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are fantastic sources of fibre, vitamin C and polyphenols. These compounds support a healthy gut microbiome and, in turn, strong immunity. Berries are perfect in the lunch box (albeit a little expensive at this time of year), or use frozen berries to top yoghurt or in a smoothie (see the recipes below)

2. Eggs

Eggs are nutritional powerhouses, especially the yolks, which provide vitamin D – a crucial nutrient for immune function, especially during the darker winter months when sun exposure is limited. I recommend incorporating hard-boiled eggs into your child's diet by adding them to sandwiches, or just serving a hard boiled egg straight up in the lunch box. Healthy takes on french toast are another winner with most kids too.

 3. Red Meat & Legumes

While a plant-based diet is important, red meat provides easily absorbable iron and zinc, essential for your child's growth and immune function. Using leftover slices of beef or lamb in sandwiches or wraps, or heating up a pasta Bolognese in our new Hot n Cold Hero Box for a warm lunch, can be great ways to include red meat in their diet. And yes of course your plant based sources of protein like chickpeas, kidney or black beans are excellent sources of fibre and plant based (non haeme iron) too. Give our Mexican bean recipe a go below!

 4. Wholegrains
Wholegrains are rich in fibre, B vitamins and zinc. If your child is used to white bread, start transitioning to wholemeal gradually, and then grainy varities I often recommend wholemeal wraps, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, and oat-based snacks. Homemade muffins or cookies using wholemeal flours or oats can also be a nutritious and tasty option (check out our choc chip cookie recipe below for a healthier take on the original)

5. Probiotic Foods

Probiotic foods contain live microorganisms that help balance the good and bad bacteria in the gut. Foods such as miso, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, and pickled vegetables all fall into this category. While some of these foods may be a bit challenging for fussier kids, yoghurt is widely accepted and can be added to smoothies or eaten as a snack.

Recipes to try

Berry Delicious Smoothie

Berry Biscuit Bars

The Perfect Lunch Box Choc Chip Cookie

Mexican Beans 


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