Why You Need to Stop Feeding Your Kids Crap
As a mother and a teacher, I am constantly amazed and appalled at what parents are putting in their kids’ lunch boxes. Chips, processed food, and sodas seem to be the norm, and you’re lucky to find a piece of fruit or a sandwich anywhere. What some parents are passing off as ‘lunch’ is disgraceful and today I’m pleading with you to stop feeding your kids crap!
I know that this isn’t true of everyone. There are many parents who send lovely healthy lunches (and I’m not even complaining about a treat or two), but sadly it seems that more and more children are being sent to school with inadequate food and I am struggling to find the justification for why. The effects on attention span and behaviour can’t be good when you see what ‘fuel’ they have been given for the day.
Too many children are going to school without breakfast.
62% of school teachers regularly see kids go to school hungry because they aren’t getting enough to eat at home. Some schools now offer Breakfast in the Classroom. I’ve even seen teachers who make breakfast in their classrooms for students who need it.
More fruit and vegetables, please!
Through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act championed by the First Lady and signed by President Obama, USDA made the first major changes in school meals in 15 years in 2015, which aims to help parents raise a healthier generation of children. One of the new standards ensures that schools must offer kids more fruit and vegetable options at lunch. With a variety of fruit available year round, there is no excuse not to send your children to school with some fruit options.
Many children go to school with no ‘real’ food.
By real food, I’m talking about something substantial for lunch. A sandwich, a wrap, a roll – anything that’s filling and will keep them fueled up and ready to learn. What you do find is packets. So many packets. Packets of chips, sugar-filled yoghurt, cookies and sugary fruit juices. For many children, this is their ONLY lunch. They are expected to get through the whole day on junk food and sugar.
In America according to The Washington Post, “the average person consumes more than 126 grams of sugar per day, which is slightly more than three 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola. That’s more than twice the average sugar intake of all 54 countries observed by Euromonitor. It’s also more than twice what the World Health Organization recommends for daily intake, which is roughly 50 grams of sugar for someone of normal weight.”
These statistics are alarming and parents are not helping by feeding their children sugar-laden food and drinks.
Parents are sending kids to school with sugary drinks instead of water.
It’s not uncommon to find drink bottles full of juice or soda. Water is all they need, especially at school. Don’t let your children fill up on sugary drinks.
Many parents are fooled by marketing.
Advertisers are talented people and they do a great job at making us think we are giving children healthy food when in fact it isn’t. Yogurt is one of the worst offenders. The pouches look healthy, they have pictures of fruit on them, and throw around terms like ‘organic’; but almost all of the yoghurt pouches in the grocery stores contain sugar as one of their main ingredients. Pictures of popular characters such as Elsa from Frozen or Captain America are plastered over all kinds of food, and often the thinking is that if it’s marketed to children it must be good for children. WRONG! These are generally the worst offenders.
I wish I was making this up. I wish I was talking about the minority here, but I’m not. This is what I see in schools every day. Different schools, different locations, same kinds of crap food. So as a teacher, I plead with you. Stop feeding your kids crap!
Nutritious and Affordable Lunch Ideas
Sending a healthy lunch for your child does not take long to make and is not expensive. I’m not talking about an amazing lunch, not even a great one. I’d settle for a piece of fruit, a sandwich or wrap of some kind and a bottle of water. I guarantee this will cost the same, if not cheaper than all of the packaged food.The lunches pictured below all cost less than $2.00 to make and took less than five minutes to prepare.
Some tips to keep lunches healthy and cheap
If your child doesn’t have a chance to eat breakfast at home, then send them off with breakfast to eat on the way to school.
Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season and on special.
Switch to whole grain bread or wraps. You can get affordable whole grain loaves from your local grocery store. By adding lettuce, tomato, cheese and some sliced meat you will be spending less on processed foods, and you can make so many varieties of sandwiches and wraps. You can also serve cut up meat and cheese with crackers. Snacks like Good Thins are perfect for this.
Make your own yogurt pouches. Not only are the store bought pouches full of sugar and other added ingredients, they cost a lot more. By making your own (buy a large pot of Greek yogurt and flavor with real fruit) yogurt pouches, you save a bunch of money and are assured that it’s healthier.
Need more ideas for healthy lunches? Check out this post for healthy snack and lunch ideas.
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A version of this post first appeared on My Bored Toddler and was syndicated with permission to BonBon Break Media LLC.