191 Days ’til 40: Healthy Lunches for Children

14 Aug


Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.  ~Jim Davis

Do vegetarians eat animal crackers?  ~Author Unknown

I have been thinking about children’s lunches lately as we all head back to school.  I have particularly been thinking about lunches for my youngest as she will often grump over any item that has any sort of redeeming nutritional value, no matter how minuscule.  She will happily consume crap, but give her healthy food (for the most part) and suddenly she puts the most seasoned sourpuss to shame.  What happened?  She was not always like this.  Sadly, I believe it is my fault – I allowed her to eat junk food, on occasion, and then a few more occasions, and her taste buds changed.  Suddenly she no longer liked the flavor of healthy food, as she was addicted to sugar, carbohydrates and salt.  She wanted to mostly eat the unhealthy options.

I realize that this is a very careful balance to navigate with children – we want and need them to eat, and we want them to do so willingly…… we want them to find foods that they enjoy that are healthy for them.  One thing I have done is I have taken most junk food completely out of the house.  If there are no junk food options, my girls must eat healthy when they are truly hungry.  School lunches in our home consist of yogurts, fresh fruit and vegetables and a sandwich (often organic peanut butter on organic bread).  They manage, they do not starve…. it seems to be working.

What really disturbs me are the parents who send their children to school with tons of candy, potato chips, and other forms of junk food.  We would not throw rock on our gas tank, as we care for our cards – so why on earth would we through the equivalent of rocks into our bodies?  It is a good question, asked quite a lot, but rarely answered.

Today, 191 days ’til 40, I am more conscious of what I am feeding my daughters on a daily basis.



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42 responses to “191 Days ’til 40: Healthy Lunches for Children

  1. Mr. Miller

    August 14, 2012 at 00:12

    A question for the ages, really. Why do parents send their kids to school with crap for lunch? I think a big part is good ol’ American laziness. Whether the kids/parents are running late or the parents just don’t want to make the effort – it’s just easier to throw bags of chips or ANY prepackaged item into the lunch box.

    I also think there’s an economic factor involved. Bad foods are ultimately cheaper at the store and as a parent, you can feed more with less (so to speak). It’s easier to justify a full cart full of crap for $50 than a third filled cart of good stuff. From a mental standpoint, you certainly feel that you “got more”.

    • 400daystil40

      August 14, 2012 at 23:27

      I agree, I think it is laziness……

  2. jamestenedero

    August 14, 2012 at 00:31

    Thanks so much for visiting and liking my Blog Tour post! Your blog is fantastic … I really enjoyed this piece on school lunches, and of course I can fully relate to your take on Sea Monkeys 🙂 Have a great day

  3. sahbinahvioletflynn

    August 14, 2012 at 00:32

    I think because of rushed routines, parents often choose the path of least resistance. Too, crap is cheap and packaged for convenience. Being mindful, just a bit of careful planning and extra time can make all the difference though.

  4. Lani Longshore

    August 14, 2012 at 00:33

    Good luck trying to get the kids to eat right – it won’t be easy! If they are old enough to pack their own lunches, that might help with the grumpiness. Their choices would be limited to what you usually keep in the house, so you would still have a measure of control, but they get to choose based on their own whims and cravings in the morning.

  5. Long Life Cats and Dogs

    August 14, 2012 at 00:34

    Love the Jim Davis quote but agree fully on what children are fed.

  6. buckwheatsrisk

    August 14, 2012 at 00:43

    wow their school allows peanut butter? around here schools don’t because of the wicked nut allergies of many a child…

    • 400daystil40

      August 14, 2012 at 23:24

      Interestingly, they find there are less allergies with kids and communities that allow it….

  7. viveka

    August 14, 2012 at 00:48

    Yes, after see Jamie Olivers programs and how ignorant US are about their kids eating habits – was shocked what those programs showed. School meals have been terrible in UK too, but Jamie had a very big part in the change . In Sweden I think kids have a much healthier diet – at least there is no talking about unhealthy eating habits in our schools. It’s so many years since I went to school and in those days we biked back home for our lunch.

  8. A Table in the Sun

    August 14, 2012 at 02:17

    We had a wonderful grant program in our district that brought free produce, recipes,materials, and supplies into the hands of every willing teacher……every month for three years! Students sampled foods so many fruits and vegetables they had never eaten before! We can only hope that it rubbed off on their parents.

  9. tonyakerrigan

    August 14, 2012 at 03:07

    Honestly, I’m not sure school lunches are better, at least not in our school district. My daughter actually gained about 20 pounds after school started last year from eating school lunches.

    • 400daystil40

      August 14, 2012 at 23:18

      Oh, I know school lunches are worse! I pulled my kids after two weeks on them!

  10. craftythriftydecoratingwifemom

    August 14, 2012 at 03:10

    Making them happy is easy! Nutrition takes more work, from preparation and assuring no spoilage to packing it for them to competing with other kids (with whom lunch items were often traded or bought from junk food laden lunches when my kids were in school up to 5 yrs. ago). Have you seen coupons for wholly guacamole specifically marketed for kids’ lunches? Might be a slightly easier option. Good Luck!!

  11. Another Thousand Words

    August 14, 2012 at 03:49

    It really galls me to see children, early in the morning and on their way to school, munching down a bag of Doritos ar potato chips, follwed by some sort of soft drink. Even the smallest ‘convenience store’ carries juices and granola bars, but the parents just do not seem to care, but wonder why the child is not doing well in school. The old adage is very true: “Garbage in, garbage out!”

  12. Little Sis

    August 14, 2012 at 04:43

    I know this story – I have one like this too. And I didn’t even let her have much in the way of junk – but she’s a junkie alright. None in the house does help, but she lets me know pretty regularly that she’s not thrilled with her options. Oh well. She’ll either get over it or she won’t; I’m not giving in. More power to you.

    • 400daystil40

      August 14, 2012 at 23:14

      It is so frustrating! I also am not giving in!

  13. Janet

    August 14, 2012 at 05:47

    Kids and food are always a challenge. I have two who are great healthy eaters then one who is so picky and has crazy food issues. She has a real fear of citrus – she actually runs from the room if an orange is peeled. We couldn’t understand until an alergist told us she suffers from severe heartburn – as a young child she couldn’t express the pain citrus was causing her and it developed into some kind of phobia. Now that we know we are helping her deal with her “fear.”

  14. Trent Lewin

    August 14, 2012 at 06:56

    I think you gotta tell me why you’re counting down to 40. Beyond the obvious reason?

  15. caitpatch

    August 14, 2012 at 15:01

    I like your theme of introspection and curiosity into life. That’s some ambition to figure it all out before 40! Thanks for reading my blog and I look forward to reading more of yours!


    Food with Wit

  16. mymagicalescape

    August 14, 2012 at 16:13

    Very true. Too many kids eat only junk now, and growing up the way I did where we ate things grown in the a garden, it just baffles me to hear that these kids refuse to eat fruit and veggies.

  17. saymber

    August 14, 2012 at 17:52

    There is a lot of “fluff” in childrens diets and not enough protein and complex carbs. Cereal, oatmeal, apples, bananas etc all just spike the blood sugar which causes drowsiness and not staying full. There has to be balance.

  18. Sid Dunnebacke

    August 15, 2012 at 02:56

    You aren’t alone – we have a carbon copy of your youngest in our house too. She’s getting better but it sure is taking a loong time. And the lunches we send to school with our two sound strikingly like yours. Solidarity!

  19. Lela Bonchjela

    August 15, 2012 at 04:19

    I think my comment wasn’t sent. If it is, you can delete this 😉

    I can’t stand people who are ‘allergic’ to greens! Mom brought us up with fruits and vegetables. Til now, our meals aren’t complete without vegetables and fruits. We might not like the smell or sight of those things, but Mom will force us (I’ve friends who don’t eat veggies/fruits because their parents don’t! WTH). To my surprise, a lot of my friends and colleagues were shocked to know that I’ve never had any pimples in the 25 years of my life, the first was early this year, due to stress. I am healthy because of my food intake =D

    • 400daystil40

      August 16, 2012 at 15:36

      I agree – I can’t imagine such an allergy! (Try having a partner who is a vegetarian who won’t eat vegetables!!!)

  20. leftoverrecipes

    August 25, 2012 at 23:12

    I think that some parents really don’t understand how unhealthy things like potato chips and other packaged snacks are. this is mostly because of packaging and promotion. Most people see a package. It written on it “6 added vitamins!” you look and see that it supplies 25% of the RDA for vitamins B1-B6 and 30% of the iron! Why should you consider it unhealthy? And it is so much more convenient than those pesky vegetables and fruits that spoil on you!
    Mu husband actually overheard a woman explaining to her mother that the snack her toddler was eating was healthy and if she eats 6 packs of it she has all her vitamins for the day. Scary.

    • 400daystil40

      August 25, 2012 at 23:14

      This is so true! I am appalled by what comes to school! They also think that they need to send it because it is all their children will eat – well, I find that when offered choices, many children do choose healthy foods. And, when junk is taken away, they learn to like more healthy foods!


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