I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!
Food for Thought…
I have been struggling lately with the idea of getting older and no longer having little people in my house. Questions like did I do enough or did I do too much rattle around in my head quite often. Being addicted to food I realize that one of my quick fix answers to my children’s problems was feed them; after all food always made me feel better so why wouldn’t it do the same for them? I can remember packing their lunches for school in the early years and always sticking in a little something extra; you know just in case. Looking back I wonder just what was I thinking. Nearly 19 years of parenting I realize that parents today struggle with the same issues.
Being a teacher, I am witness to some of the “just in case” items in lunch boxes. And while I am not trying to point a finger at anyone or questioning anyone’s judgment on what should or should not fill a young child’s lunch box, I would like to share some observations from my side of the lunch table.
1. Just because the label says yogurt does not mean it’s a good choice. Did you know that each 3.1 ounce drinkable yogurt cup contains 3 tablespoons of sugar? I nearly fell out of my chair when I made this discovery after noticing a change in behavior in students who consumed these sweet concoctions.
2. Juice boxes are not necessarily a good lunchbox staple. Most juice box/pouches contain a lot of additives and red dyes which can and will cause unsettling reactions in children and their behavior. Flavored water or plain water is an excellent choice for young children. I suggest sending a special leak proof cup that can be refilled from the water fountain. Not only does the child stay hydrated, you the parent will save money by not purchasing unhealthy sugary drinks.
3. Fresh fruit is always better than fruit type gummy snacks or roll ups. Gummy or rolled fruit is sticky, full of extra additives and does very little for a young persons body. Fresh fruit contains essential vitamins and minerals that will not only fill a child’s tummy but will aid in healthy digestion. Believe it or not there are young children who have never eaten a piece of fresh fruit.
4. Homemade lunch kits are not only less expensive than store bought ones, they are more pleasing to small children. Ask your child to help shop for what he/she would like to eat and allow them to help assemble it. This encourages them to learn to make wise food choices and ensure they will like what they eat.
5. Lunch does not have to be a sandwich and chips. Kids love variety. At 44 years old I am not a fan of sandwiches and could not imagine eating one every single day of the week. Once again variety is good and fresh is always better. Ham and cheese rolled up without bread is a great alternative as are bagels with cream cheese or jelly.
6. Leftovers are great lunchbox choices and can be kept warm in a good quality insulated food container. By preparing a little extra for dinner the night before and a quick heat up in the morning will ensure that your child will be getting a home cooked meal at school.
7. Candy should never be sent to school in the lunch box. The extra sugar is not necessary and can trigger swings in a child’s behavior.
8. Fresh vegetables are a great lunchbox staple for young children. A small container with carrots, celery, broccoli cucumbers or green peppers can not only fuel your child’s body but will teach them to make wise food choices when they are older. Ranch dressing or dip for the vegetables is also a fun way to encourage vegetable consumption.
9. Small quantities of a variety of food items are best. Young children tend to be “nibblers” and can sometimes feel overwhelmed with large amounts of food and will decrease the amount of food your child is throwing away.
10. Breakfast comes first…start your child off with a healthy breakfast that will keep him/her going strong in the morning. If you do not have time to cook breakfast (I know I don’t), make sure you’re hold has healthy choices to pick from to give them a positive start to their day. There are no rules that say you cannot have a ham and cheese sandwich, slice of cold cheese pizza, or tuna fish on toast for breakfast.
Teaching our children early on that food should be used to fuel our bodies and not as a reward or substitute for something will be one of the greatest life lessons you could ever teach. Ultimately the choice is yours, however I encourage you to think of the old saying “garbage in garbage out” when dealing with feeding your children and yourself. Filling your body with the right fuel will keep your motor running and in good shape; after all unlike a car we cannot trade our bodies in on a new model.
Also, please visit Karla’s Lifetime Moms page and read her articles.