School is back in session. All the parents are sighing with relief; the kids are excited to see their friends. All is well….or is it?
If you agree keeping a close eye on your child’s nutrition and health, you know that is easiest done when they are eating at home. When they leave the house and go to a friends or with grandma & grandpa, you can only hope what you’ve taught them will carry them through all the temptations. I guess that goes for everything, not just food.
My parents see nothing wrong with happy meals or even ice cream for dinner. Lets just say, this is them in grandparents mode because as a child I’d have to sit at the table until my meal was eaten. Blah! Some of my son’s friends are the same way. Pizza, burgers, treats. All that is fine once in a while. However, I would kind of like to enjoy these treats with my son (yes, selfish) and I’d like a bit more control over what he eats and when. So, school is tough.
With over thirty kids in his class and less than thirty weeks in a school year, you can imagine just how often a birthday is celebrated in class. Add in teacher given treats and holiday parties and you have junk food galore. All this is not taking in account school lunches because my son takes a packed lunch. I just don’t trust the quality of school lunches, plus he is picky.
The average kid is taking that good ole average lunch. A sandwich, piece of fruit, a baggie of carbs and probably a juice box. Every once in a while, or everyday, you also throw in a little treat. This can be a decent well-balanced meal. I say “can be” because let’s be real, a slice of lunch meat on white bread, bag of Doritos, some fruities and a Capri Sun and maybe an Oreo, won’t win any healthy lunch awards. I’m not even going to go into my thoughts on Lunchables. But, you can pack healthy.
Compared to the average school lunch, your average brown bag will be healthier. Plus, you can control the quantity and quality of foods you pack. Even with the new formulated school lunch, kids are still given highly processed food-stuff. Yes, they might have a salad bar, but when I have visited during lunchtime, I have yet to see a kid fill their plate with veggies. Not to mention, at our school, they “helpfully” add ranch dressing to all the lettuce beforehand, making your choice there limited. Again, bonus points for the salad, but by adding a jug of ranch they sort of kill that one.
With the new school lunch menus, the average calorie intake is between 550-850 or more. Just for lunch. On this new plan, many kids are complaining they are still hungry so schools are now opting out of the Obama lunch program and are reverting back to larger, more filling lunches at over 1200 calories per meal! The newer lunches are bringing the nutrition closer to the prison meal, sad sad sad, where the older lunches were severely behind JAIL food!! What?
The new program does have its positive notes. Some of the offered foods are locally sourced. Kids are “suppose to” take at least one fruit or veggie. Sadly, this has been translated into far more waste than ever before.
When all the treats start rolling into the classroom, it’s tough to monitor. You don’t want to tell your child not to take one. Poor kid didn’t do anything wrong. However, the average cupcake has — grams of sugar. Now, with everything being store bought, that’s a difference from when we were able to bring homemade.
Treats might not be so bad if portions were considered. However, everything is oversized, extra sweet and pure junk. The average cupcake has about 20 grams of sugar. I’ve yet to see a kid bring fruit in as their birthday treat. My son included. It’s not like there is abundance of “healthy” bakeries out there making homemade like treats. They are out there, but it can be expensive when trying to feed about 40 little mouths.
Then there is the treats shared on the bus, after-school munchies and finally at night, dessert. When you think you are about to treat your child to something yummy, chances are they’ve already had their fill. Getting to go out for a treat is just more sugar in their tummy.
Some families do watch what they serve. However, sometimes that means they will bring in fat-free, or sugar-free items which means now your child may be getting chemicals and preservatives that perhaps you don’t really love your kiddo eating.
It’s important that as parents we continue to watch what our kids eat, even when outside the home. It has a way of adding up and we don’t want our kids super-sized!
Good luck to another school year!