Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yahoo! Mother Board: Balancing school lunches

The Yahoo! Mother Board has asked us to talk about how we get our kids to eat healthy school lunches. Once again, I say that it's all about balance. And once again, I also say that our family is a work in progress.

Because of time and financial constraints, I haven't been to Whole Foods in a while. I'm back to picking up regular peanut butter and enriched wheat bread at our local grocery store. We are far from perfect, and I'm okay with that.

I make the girls' lunches four times a week and they eat from the cafeteria once a week. That's as much for my convenience as anything, since I usually don't feel like making them lunches for the next day on the nights when I have a PTA meeting. I could (and should) investigate more what's happening in their school's cafeteria, but for now, I'll leave that to Jamie Oliver.

The girls' lunches generally consist of a sandwich, a piece of fruit or cereal fruit bar, carrots or veggie chips, and string cheese/trail mix/gingersnaps from the organic aisle. Not the best, not the worst. Again, I'm okay with that.

I'm raising girls, and while healthy eating is important, I also need to be aware of not focusing too much on weight issues. My girls are not in any danger of becoming obese; they dance regularly which is just as much exercise as a soccer game, they run around regularly (sometimes too much, if you ask me), they love to swim, jump and hike. Their physical fitness is not a concern.

Having said that, I want to be sure that they are happy with their bodies. I don't want to say no to ice cream because it's fattening, I say no because it's not healthy. And I don't always want to say no. We don't actually have any ice cream in the house right now, but I do sometimes throw in a piece of candy or goldfish crackers in their lunch. And I sometimes say yes to requests to buy Oreos or donuts. They know I'm not going to buy them every trip, they know I'm going to limit their intake, but I figure, I don't want them "dealing" sandwiches for cookies at lunchtime either, so I can't say no all the time.

I was horrified last year when Riley told me that one child has her mother bring her McDonald's at lunch about 3 times a week. That is excessive. That is not convenient to drive to a McDonald's and drop it off at lunch time, it's not wallet friendly, and it's certainly not teaching a child any sort of self-discipline. That's not balanced.

But I also don't think it's balanced to try and withhold everything processed from our children. The more control we parents try and hang onto, the more out of control our children will feel. To me, what's most important in parenting is remembering that the goal is to raise adults that love themselves enough to make the right decisions.

Sylvia suffered from picky eater syndrome for a long time, and I think it was a control issue more than anything else. She does not have free reign; she has to ask me for anything she wants for a snack when we're at home. I let her have what she wants sometimes, and sometimes I don't. And I hope that this is what she remembers when she's an adult and making these decisions for herself; making mistakes is a part of life, but recognizing them and correcting your own behavior is what really matters.

Read other posts on school lunches at the Yahoo! Mother Board


Amy @ YodelingMamas said...

I couldn't agree more that balance is so important. I work very hard to introduce my kids to healthy foods (and they love veggies), but we also love to make pancakes every Saturday morning as a family. And we order pizza when we're having so much fun with friends nobody wants to go home. A huge part of a healthy lifestyle is staying active and that's something we do every single day...even if our menu isn't perfect.

Jenni said...

Great post April! A topic near and dear to my heart! ;)

Skylar has only bought lunch from school once.. it was the first day, and she grabbed her sister's lunch bag (which was empty) instead of her's. She amazingly did a good job of choosing what she wanted - chicken nuggets, brocolli, and bananas. The only junkie thing she picked was the chocolate milk - I was so proud! I think it showed our healthy eating habits perfectly!

When I pack her lunch, it's simple and healthy. She gets a sandwich, organic fruit snacks, some fruit or carrots, and organic crackers or chips. I'll change it up sometimes with putting in granola or dried mango strips instead of crackers or chips. And occasionally I'll buy cookies, and she'll get that instead of fruit snacks.

And a mom buying her daughter McD's 3 times a week? That's just poor decision making as far as I'm concerned, and she's teaching her kid the same thing.

Debbie said...

wonderful post! This is something I am trying to do for myself as well as my son. I have made some significant changes in my journey to healthier eating but truly have a long way to go.

jenn said...

Great post. This is something I plan to do once Shiloh starts school next year. I just don't like the thought of her eating school lunches all the time, although I could see having her eat it once a week maybe. I agree that sweets shouldn't be totally off limits, but should be limited because they aren't healthy. That's what we do at home even now.

La Jolla Mom said...

Balance. Exactly. I say no to ice cream because it's unhealthy (and I can't deal with the sugar high). My 3 year old is eating us out of house and home (more than I do!) but it's a growing spurt and she's "underweight" for her height. That might not always be the case but I want her to understand what is healthy and what is not so she can decide for herself eventually!

Donna said...

I know what you mean about walking the line between making them aware of what's healthy for them and encouraging an eating disorder. When my daughter was in gymnastics, there were times when I felt the coaches were doing the latter! With the amount of exercise she was getting, a little candy once in a while wasn't going to hurt her. Now, it's a little different... but I guess it's always going to be so with each stage she enters.

Kim Moldofsky said...

Wowo. McDonal's 3x a week delivered to school by mom? There's so much wrong with that.

I agree that it's all about balance. Sometimes my kids are eating wholesome, homemade and even organic, and other times, we're all about convenience foods- though even then we try and pick the healthier options.

Amy M said...

Excellent post! I'm making my husband read this one.

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