With Elliott starting prep next year, the lunchbox topic has really got me thinking. I’ve seen a lot in the media and parenting groups about this very topic, including a lot of judgement, and I’m positive I’m going to be one of those mums preparing lunchboxes on a daily basis with the whole lunchbox debate floating around my head.
As I peer into the fridge, prepare his sandwich and other snacks for his lunchbox, it’s likely I’ll be questioning myself, ‘is this healthy enough? Is it too high in simple carbs? Is there too much sugar? Will it be sent home? ‘ I know for a fact that the
over-emphasis put on healthy lunchboxes will make me second guess myself and I know that there are many parents who are already in this situation.
What I’m disappointed in is the fact that parents DO feel this way because of the pressure.Why should I be made to feel that way, why should any parent be made to feel that what they pack in their child’s lunchbox isn’t good enough or isn’t deemed healthy enough?
If I go back to my school days, I can guarantee you that my teacher would have been sending food home left, right and centre if the same rules were in place. We always had a special treat in our lunchbox – a twinkie bar, a jam donut, a packet of chips, a juice. But guess what? We weren’t overweight – we played sports after school, we rode our bikes in the yard. We ate this food in moderation, mum knew it was ok and was part of a balanced diet.
But fast forward 20+ years and I reckon it’s gotten a bit out of hand.
Paleo lunchboxes, food made to look fancy, low GI, foods you can have, foods you can’t…. Seriously? What happened to a sandwich, piece of fruit and a few healthy snacks?
The most recent story I’ve heard (and not the only one) was about a child who happily made some muffins with his mum and was excited to take one in his lunchbox the next day. When it came time to eat it, the teacher wouldn’t let him, it was not healthy and was promptly put back in his lunchbox to be sent home. The mother was utterly confused and angry, the muffin was, in fact, a healthy muffin. It had no sugar where instead applesauce was used as a natural sweetener. I was shocked to hear about this. What a horrible situation to put a child in.
So, how did the teacher know the ingredients of this muffin? What if a child brought a red velvet cupcake made with beetroot, no refined sugar and almond meal instead of refined flour? Would the teacher look at that too and immediately think ‘oh, that’s a cupcake, it’s bad, he can’t eat it?’ They probably would and I don’t believe that is right. A huge assumption is being made here. Perhaps parents need to start resorting to including ingredient lists with all homemade products? Now that’s taking it too far. Why not just leave the responsibility with the parents?
And what if it was your traditional muffin or cupcake? Apart from the parent, how does any other parent or teacher know what a child eats at home – for breakfast and dinner? How does any other parent or teacher know what extracurricular activities that child does outside of school or how much they play in the yard after each school day in order to balance their diet and exercise? They are not there, they are not watching, so I do not believe that anyone, apart from the parent, is in a position to stipulate or comment on what a child should or shouldn’t have in their lunchbox.
Don’t get me wrong, I have spoken to teacher friends and there are kids that come to school with absolutely terrible lunches. One I heard was a child coming to school with a large bag of chips for lunch. Now, if this happened, I completely agree with a teacher stepping in. But occasional foods every now and then, homemade ‘sweets’ that are healthy…that’s a parents call.
There’s such stigma around how inactive our kids are these days, this is what I believe we should be focusing on in addition to eating certain food groups in moderation.
I actually feel the same way about adults and all of the healthy eating hype and diets. People are becoming so obsessive over ultra healthy eating, I actually don’t reckon it’s healthy at all because people spend so much of their time obsessing about their weight and body image instead of just being happy, enjoying life and enjoying all the types of delicious food in moderation.
I’m all for healthy eating and I can understand teachers trying to do their bit and perhaps that the direction is coming from a higher place, but where is the line drawn and when can parents feel confident about making their own decisions?
I truly believe parenting is getting harder, not because of our kids, but because of societal pressure. As a parent, I find it overwhelming, exhausting and mind-boggling and it’s taking away a lot of the joy that should be experienced as a parent. So can we not just let parents be parents, teachers be teachers, let parents worry about their own kids and so on and so forth?
Let’s not steal any more of the fun away from childhood and parenting, let’s just be smart about it.
What are your thoughts on the issue?
Keen to look after the environment? Check out my rubbish free lunchbox ideas.
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