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Back to School - Healthy Munch for Lunch

Posted by Eamonn Brady on


By Eamonn Brady MPSI, pharmacist and owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St and Clonmore, Mullingar


Including more fruit and vegetables in children’s diet will improve growth, development and vitality and prevent a range of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cancer in later life. Research shows that the more fruit and veg are available and easily accessible for children, the more likely they are to eat them. Therefore if fruit is chopped up and ready to eat, children will eat more of them. There is evidence that children need to try new fruits and vegetables up to eight or nine times before they are liked or accepted.


Avoid the post lunch dip

Many students experience fatigue or a dip in energy after lunch. High-protein lunches produce greater alertness and more focused attention, whereas lunches that are high in fat tend to lead to greater fatigue, sleepiness and distraction. Chicken, tuna, lean beef and eggs are examples of lunch options that are high in protein and low in fat.


Lunch box tips

Milk or water are best as drinks. Sugar free squash (one part squash to four parts water) is better than sugary minerals. Always opt for brown or wholegrain bread rather than white bread for sandwiches and rolls; they are higher in fibre and will keep your child fuller for longer. Cut sandwiches into fingers, squares or triangles for a bit of variety. For fillings, cucumber, tomatoes and apples are tasty. Convenience snacks are high in fats, salts and sugar so should not be eaten on a regular basis. Include a piece of fruit every day. Vary the fruit everyday; examples include grapes, plums, peaches, bananas, orange segments, apple slices and kiwis (cut in half and eaten with a spoon). A good tip to prevent a sliced fruit going brown during the day is to sprinkle lemon over the sliced part. Try to include something from the dairy group every day which could include milk, yogurt or cheese. For variety, try cheese slices, cubes, triangles or grated cheese. Encourage your child to help you make their lunch or even to make their own lunch. Children are more inclined to eat it if they had a part in making it.


Fish Oils

Omega 3 stimulates serotonin in the brain which boosts mood and relieves stress. The fatty acid DHA (contained in omega 3 fish oils) has been shown in research to aid memory and concentration. Omega 3 fatty acids are primarily found in oily fish such as salmon, fresh tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines and pilchards. Everyone should eat two portions of fish per week, one of them oily. Irish children eat less than fish than their European cousins so supplementing on Omega 3 can be beneficial. MorEPA® from Whelehans is the richest and purest source of Omega 3 EPA fish oil available. Each once daily 1,000 mg capsule contains 535 mg EPA (approx) and 87 mg of DHA (approx), pure essential Omega 3 fatty acids. The capsules are free from odour and any fishy taste due to the addition of natural lemon. MorEPA Mini® is a strawberry flavour omega 3 supplement for children from age five upwards. It can be mixed with food and drinks such as yogurt and fruit juices. Recent research has shown that students who took MorEPA® fish oils were able to perform better at mental tasks.


There is no conclusive evidence, but Omega-3 supplementation is thought to be beneficial in preventing Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that affects 3-5% of children. Research is ongoing on this subject.


Health Services for children

Whelehans Pharmacy has many health services for children as well as adults. Whelehans has an in store chiropodist every Tuesday and Thursday. Common conditions he treats for children include warts and verrucas, athlete’s foot and ingrown toenails. He has a reduced rate of €25 for adults over 60 on Tuesdays. Our food intolerance test is aimed at children and adults. We can check for food intolerance to 59 of the most common causes of food intolerance. Food intolerance can be a cause or exacerbating factor for many childhood conditions including asthma, ADHD, bed wetting, eczema and sleep disturbance. Many children, especially those who are fussy eaters can be low in iron. Low iron can cause lethargy and can lead to poor concentration and school performance in children. We can check your child’s iron levels with our 2 minute haemoglobin check. You don’t need to book an appointment and it costs €5. Call us at 04493 34591 to book any of our clinics. Bear in mind our food intolerance and haemoglobin tests are finger prick tests which some children may not like.


Our friendly affordable nutrition service

Whelehans nutrition service is a friendly, flexible and affordable service offering one to one consultations with follow up programmes and weekly monitoring.   Suitable for men, women and children. Call our Nutritionist Caroline Masters on 086-3994615 or email her at or call Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse Street on 044 9334591.


Disclaimer: Health supplements are not a substitute for a balanced diet. Food intolerance tests is not a clinical diagnosis and is not a substitute for full medical check-up.

For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore).


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