The school lunchbox - A word of caution...
Updated: Jan 28
It’s that time of year again….
Love them or loathe them; it’s time to talk about the school/kindy/ daycare lunches. It’s a hot topic for many families because of the practical and emotional labour so many of us invest into getting the balance right between nutrition, convenience and pleasing the palate of our often highly discerning youngsters.
Don’t get me wrong… I love a rainbow coloured lunchbox as much as the next Dietitian but I am concerned that in striving for ‘The Perfect Lunchbox’, in some cases, we have strayed into a territory of guilt and shame for parents and worse, our children.
It can be helpful to keep a healthy dose of perspective. A school lunch is just one meal in the mix of upwards to 150 across one month. Food should not contain a moral value and any nutrition outcomes are made over months and years, not in one fancy-looking bento box!
Children will all be different places in their schooling and food acceptance journey. Particularly at this time of the year, where new routines and transitions are being established, some kids may really need the comfort of a lunchbox filled with foods that help them feel safe and relaxed. The evidence on the subject of children and nutrition suggests that adding stress or pressure to mealtimes is at best unhelpful and at worst, may cause harm in the relationship our children have with food and their body.
So my appeal is this…
- Let’s cut the judgement of ourselves and of each other.
- Let’s not ask our teachers/ carers to be the food police.
- Let’s not deliver abstract nutrition messages to children around the lunchbox- It’s often not age appropriate and it’s usually not an area that our children have substantial influence or control.
- Let food be food, nothing more. Instead, let’s focus our energy on fostering positive mealtime experiences and opportunities to interact with food as it grows, goes to market, and involve them in cooking and preparation tasks at home.
May 2021 be a year of joyful eating for you and those you love.