My 2 cents (or 5 as it were) on school lunches

I came across this article Why teachers are telling parents what to feed their children, even when it isn’t their responsibility today and felt compelled to add my 2 cents (or 5 cents as it were).

As a Mom, I think we struggle with so many facets of parenthood and I have reduced myself to tears on some of the decisions I have made over the years.  I truly believe we are all raising our kids to the best of our abilities in every given moment.

I am huge advocate for teaching kids and parents a healthier way of eating.  I love teaching children about how their bodies function and what they need to feel awesome!  It is my passion and I have presented many health talks in the community and in our schools to help bring light to the importance of whole nutrient dense foods.

I have not always been so passionate about the food my children eat.  I remember sending my eldest to kindergarten with bear paws, fruit leathers and goldfish.  Was I sending this nutrient void food because I didn’t care about her wellbeing?  Of course not.  I was doing the best I could with the resources I had.  Working full time and taking responsibility for all aspects of the children’s life at that point was stressful.

My health journey has been in baby steps, gaining knowledge and gradually making changes over time.  Knowledge is power, because it allows for change.

Food is an extremely important aspect of our life, but so is your involvement with your children, the stories you read, the excursions you go on, daily exercise, incorporating community service into your lives, and laughing over stories at the dinner table.

I agree that what many children are eating for breakfasts, lunches and dinners is not ideal, but let us not be hasty to judge and point fingers.  Education and a willingness to listen are the keys.

Unfortunately, the big multi-national companies are dictating and marketing foods to what will fill their own pockets.  The colourful and sneaky lingo you find on processed and packaged foods can make us feel we are providing a healthy alternative for our family, but the real test is on the nutrition label.  What is the serving size?  Is it the entire package, or 1/8 of the package?  No trans -fats?  Really?  There are if you find hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list.  How much fibre does it have?  Less than 5 grams is not helpful to us.  What about the net carbs?  This is the total carbs minus the fibre, which is quite a telling story….more so than the sugar content.  Ideally you would like to keep your net carb at 15 grams or less.  What about dyes, chemicals and other names I really can’t pronounce?

The best way to shop is purchasing items around the perimeter of the grocery store.  You don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen making different recipes.  Why not have celery, peanut butter and raisins for an after school snack?  How about sending roasted pumpkin seeds to school?  Real food isn’t always a time sucker and the rewards have life-long benefits.

Leading by example, being open to sharing without criticism, and understanding we are all own health journey is what we need to do to make change.  Change takes time and a willingness to accept it.

My passion is nutrition, but everyone has their own passion and calling on their heart.  We tend to gravitate to what we feel strongly about.  That is what makes each of us so awesome!

This article is important to bring light to the way our children our eating and it truly does take a village to raise our children.  I agree education about nutrition needs to be in the schools, but not from teachers policing lunches and writing notes home to parents.

Children need to be active participants in this process as well.  Understanding how food can build us up and tear us down is critical.  Education needs to be in the curriculum from an early age – not just learning about Canada’s food guide, but really learning about what the body needs to function.  Feeling satiated by chips, candy, pop, or any other factory, processed foods does not mean that you have fulfilled your nutritional requirements for the day. When kids do not understand why you are telling them not to eat the sugary foods, they are not going to change.

Changing directions within the school system towards the following topics would be fantastic!:

  • Reading nutrition labels
  • Understanding what toxins are and how they affect us
  • The gut is our immune system – how to keep it strong
  • The crucial role of fats to ensure a balanced blood sugar level and hormone balance
  • Understanding what it means to be addicted to sugar and how diabetes is closer than we think
  • Learning about other cultures and food from around the world

Kids want to learn.  They are curious and see the world much differently than most adult do.  Why not give them a chance to advocate for themselves and create a vibrant life through nutrition education in schools.

Our government needs to intervene and create a different curriculum approach with regards to nutrition.  Obesity, diabetes, allergies, ADHD, autism, anxiety and many more conditions are on a rapid increase and it is time we reverse these statistics.

We are all at different points on our health journey, but we need to keep moving forward in positive direction.

Whether we as parents have a lot of information on nutrition or very little is irrelevant.  What is important is being willing to make changes (big or small) for our children that will benefit their lives.

If you are like I was many years ago with a lunch full of packaged foods, I urge you to listen.  For parents with the knowledge to pack healthier lunches, do not point fingers, but have compassion for yourself and all you encounter.  We are all in this life together.

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