When I was growing up, there was a kind of stigma to bringing a lunch to school. Most kids bought lunch, and there were many times I looked at the food they were eating...fried chicken, French fries and usually a dessert. It didn't compare well to the bologna sandwich and apple in my lunch bag
In elementary school it wasn't quite as bad; my grandmother lived across the street and we often ate lunch there. The only problem came up when she wanted fried liver for lunch. That is one of the few foods I cannot tolerate.
However, the question is, which is better? In some school systems, a move is being made towards healthy lunches, though not all districts, nor even most districts are doing so. One reason is cost. Low fat products such as ninety-three percent fat free beef are not cheap. Lesser cuts, particularly hamburger are much more cost efficient. More meals for less money.
There is a second reason, and it's one you may run into when deciding to pack a healthy lunch for your child. Kids don't really want to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. When the healthy foods the schools buy at premium price are dumped in the trash, the schools get the picture.
Packing a lunch can be just as unhealthy, if the wrong foods are put in the bag. Potato chips and snack cakes are not necessarily going to help you in the fight against childhood obesity, even if it is what your child prefers. What's the solution?
There are two things that can help you in this area. The first is a long talk at the school, and perhaps even the school board. Find out what their food policies are, and suggest changes if they aren't healthy options. If enough parents push for good food choices and nutritional education, it's likely to happen.
However, parenting is the best place to start when teaching nutrition, and there are ways to get your child's cooperation in most instances. One thing is to let the child choose the foods in the bag. Ask the pediatrician or nutritionist to give you a list of foods good for your child, as well as an idea of portion and meal sizes.
Kids don't all come in one size, so these needs will change over time. It's a good idea to ask for updates on a regular basis as your child grows. Information is key to preventing childhood obesity. The nutritionist will make many suggestions, and will want you to continue this method for 'at home' meals. What the kids see you eat will influence their choices both now and in the future. Together, we can end this dangerous epidemic.
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