August 29, 2022 1 Comment
It's that time of year again...back to school! I don't know about you, but every time I get excited about my daughter going back to school, I immediately start to feel the dread of packing her lunch. My daughter can be quite unpredictable when it comes to her lunch. One day she eats the whole thing, the next day I could send the exact same lunch and she barely touches it. So for anyone else dreading the never-ending chore of packing school lunches, here are 5 ways to make it easier on yourself.
As adults, we tend to structure our meals around a main dish with a few sides and snacks. It's only natural to try and treat your child's lunch the same. However, kids have smaller stomachs and shorter attention spans, so sometimes snacks or several smaller dishes are more appealing and more likely to get eaten. Packing a variety of foods rather than one main dish may increase the likelihood of your kid eating something rather than nothing, and that something goes a long way towards helping them learn throughout the day.
As parents, we need to get comfortable looking at what our children are eating over the course of a week or even several weeks rather than a single day or meal. If your child eats a variety of foods over the course of the week, it doesn't matter all that much if your child eats the same lunch every day. If it works, it works. Forcing yourself to be creative and come up with something new every day will get tiring fast. Don't be afraid to send the same lunch over and over until it stops working. I have a few snacks that I know my daughter will eat no matter what, and she gets those in her lunch every day.
My kindergartner can't always express what she wants on her lunch, but we do still give her age-appropriate options. For example, if we have 3 types of fruit at home or if we have a few sandwich options available, she can decide what goes on her lunch. If I plan on making muffins or granola bars, she can help with picking the flavour and/or help with the baking. Younger kids love exerting their control, so providing choices can help reduce any lunchtime struggles. If your child is older, they can take more of an active role in packing their own lunch and they could also help make the grocery list so there are foods they enjoy in their lunch. If you want to set some parameters but still give your kids choices, I really like this cheat sheet from Registered Dietitian Sarah Remmer.
As parents, of course, we want our kids to be healthy eaters. But think back to when you were a kid, how many vegetables did you enjoy eating? Has your palate expanded since then? We can't expect kids to have adult taste buds. Yes, we want our kids to eat fruits and vegetables and other healthy options, but at the end of the day, fed is best. Provide them with a variety of foods and leave it up to them to decide what they actually eat or don't.
Keep in mind what kids are doing at school...playing, learning, and moving. Using both their brains and their muscles. What is the preferred fuel source of our brains and muscles? Carbohydrates. So if your child is primarily eating carbs at school and leaving the rest, that makes a lot of sense based on their body's needs. We should be encouraging them to listen to their body's signals and honing that innate wisdom rather than being disappointed or telling them they should have eaten something different.
Social media has made the expectations for school lunches absurdly difficult to achieve. Please stop putting pressure on yourself to create Instagram-worthy lunches. Unless you love it, taking an extra 30 minutes to make intricately-cut sandwiches or vegetables that look like flowers is probably a waste of time. Sure it looks cool, but is it actually making a difference in consumption? Don't get me wrong, I have definitely whipped out some cookie cutters to make sandwiches in cool shapes, but it really made no difference in terms of what actually got eaten. It did however create a bunch of food waste and leftover sandwich bits that went into the compost.
With school starting again, there are bound to be changes in routine, new extracurriculars starting, and likely less time spent together as a family compared to the summer. Don't add more to your plate by getting hung up on making your kid the perfect lunch.
Looking to save some time this fall and start planning your meals in advance but aren't sure how to do that while also practicing Intuitive Eating? Grab my free Meal Planning Guide before you go!
Comments will be approved before showing up.
October 27, 2023
October 24, 2023
October 19, 2023