Ham sandwiches are a popular staple in many children’s lunchboxes, but according to the World Cancer Research Fund, packing the processed meat into our children’s sarnies on a daily basis may increase the risk of bowel cancer.
A taste for too much salted, smoked or cured processed meats packed full of preservatives can also increase bad eating habits in later life. We’ve been urged to eat these in moderation, with the recommendation of 70 grams or less to be eaten a week.
As if packing your child’s lunchbox isn’t tricky enough, taking out the fail-safe ham from the lunchtime dining equation will see many parents ask: what can I feed my children for lunch?
It’s not as hard as you may think, according to Marni Craze, the cancer charity’s education manager. “Packed lunches are part of a child’s diet that is relatively easy to control and it does not have to take too much time or effort to prepare a healthy lunch. It’s better if children learn to view processed meat as an occasional treat,” advised Marni.
If you haven’t got hours to prepare lunch each day or have fussy eaters to feed, it could be as simple as adding a few, healthier additions. “Variety is the most important thing. If you add something healthy to a ham sandwich, such as tomato or salad, that definitely helps,” explained Sian Porter from the British Dietetic Association.
It looks like quality over quantity is the key with even the Food Standards Agency (FSA) saying we can keep ham on the menu – just not everyday. “Processed meats, such as ham, can form a part of a balanced diet and parents shouldn’t be concerned about including these in their children’s lunchboxes now and again. Try to include a variety of other fillings,” a FSA spokesman has said.
What do you put in your child’s sandwich? We would love to know!