This blog post is part of Blogher's Lunch Wars tour. I have been compensated for this post as part of the BlogHer Book Club, but all of the opinions and ideas expressed here are all.my.very.own. ( As if ANYONE would chose to have my opinions, lol!)
Anyone who has been reading here for longer than, say, a month might notice that I'm pretty passionate about nutrition. We make huge efforts to get enough veggies and fruit in on a daily basis. We limit sodas to special occasions - although my kids do love to stretch the definition of special occasions. We try to eat as whole foods as possible. I make much of our food from scratch. This originally began as a way to combat the food allergens that some of my kids have, but as I started to lose weight and transform the way *I* ate, it naturally became a way that I could control what my family ate.
I will freely own that I'm a bit of a control freak. I'm cool with that - after all, half of the battle is admitting that you have a problem, yes?
Hug your lunch ladies, people. Hug 'em hard, hug 'em tight. They work their TAILS off every day for many times rude and obnoxious ungrateful kids. Often when they try to prepare a healthier offering, it's scorned and discarded into the trash. Anyone who has seen an episode of Food Revolution knows of what I'm speaking.
I think the problem lies in the fact that things are done to make hot lunches more palatable to kids. Too many people - not just school lunch programs, but all over society in general - cater to supposed "kid palates " instead of expecting the kids to be adventurous, to eat foods that aren't drenched in ketchup or salt or sugar. To think outside the box is not encouraged.
Case in point: Emma packed her own lunch. She packed 2 lowfat Babybel cheese rounds, 8 whole grain crackers, apple slices, carrot sticks, a Stonyfield Farms yogurt tube and a low fat organic chocolate pudding cup with a bottle of water. She was reprimanded for this lunch because she didn't have a sandwich. What she packed wasn't considered a complete lunch.
What she packed most certainly was a complete lunch. Maybe a bit dairy heavy, but it was a complete lunch. There were no sugary fruit snacks, no chips, no cookies, no high fructose sweetened juice drinks - just food. Kids don't have to eat dinosaur shaped nuggets, blue applesauce cups and fritos. They don't require a sandwich on white bread, made with sugar laden peanut butter and jelly. They will eat real foods - the foods that you enjoy, your kids will enjoy as well.
NOW - hear this loud and clear. We aren't saints - we eat our fair share of junk foods, mostly at parties and events and such. Those things are treats, they aren't given out on an every mealtime basis. Fast food is a treat. It's a once in a while - almost ALWAYS with Daddy - treat. It's going to the movies, pool party with your cousins, have friends over kind of stuff.
We haven't always been this way, but it's been about 5 years in the making. And it was a difficult transition. My kids balked. They rebelled. They fought me and argued and it wasn't until they grew older - and I'm talking the big people here, the ones who are old enough to remember the "old way" we ate - that they were able to see exactly what I was doing with their foods, and begin to appreciate it. They noticed a difference in their endurance when they ran, their skin tone, and how they felt overall.
Interestingly enough, one of my older kids still loves more junk food than is healthy. This particular child eats it as often as it can be purchased - and this kid has the worst immunity to illnesses I've seen. This kids catches, and keeps, everything that goes around. Child X has been known to eat fast food twice a day, eats chips and junk at friends houses and loves nothing more than Taco Bell. When Child X is sick, a vow is made to eat better and ingest more fruits and veggies. So Child X knows what's needed. Just doesn't want to do it.
Please share your thoughts, both here and on the Blogher page, on the School Lunches offered in your kids schools.