Recently, my eight-year old son came home from school and announced that his lunch “wasn’t healthy enough”. Cheese sandwich, whole grain Breton crackers, strawberries and a pre-wrapped soft cookie in the shape of a penguin.
Maybe a little carb-heavy, but it’s not like I was sending him to school with Schneiders Lunch Mates or dropping off luke-warm McDonald’s because I didn’t have time to pack lunch in the morning…
So I asked him to elaborate.
Me: What specifically, do you mean by “healthy enough”?
Him: Healthy enough to get points so that I can go on the field trip. Don’t pack cookies or crackers any more. They made me lose points.
Me: Okay. What should I pack instead?
Him: Chocolate covered granola bars. They’re healthy. You get points for them. You could pack me two. One for lunch and one for recess. And juice boxes. Those get you points too.
While I’m not opposed to the idea of educating children about healthy food choices and using their lunches as a starting point for discussions about nutrition, I am offended by the apparent arbitrariness of the definition of “healthy”.
What makes whole grain crackers and pre-packed cookies unhealthy? Is it the salt? The sugar? The hydrogenated fats? If so, let’s talk about those ingredients and what healthy levels of each in a diet look like.
Ever read the label on a Nature Valley chocolate covered granola bar? Can you find the oats among the many forms of sugar listed?
And since when are juice boxes healthy? Maybe as an alternative to soft drinks, but certainly not when compared with water and milk. Way too much sugar relative to the vitamins and nutrients they contain.
Ironically, the monthly hot lunch provided by the parent advisory committee also fails to rate the “healthy enough” seal of approval. Pizza, hot dogs, Sun Chips and White Cheese popcorn; no field trip points there!
As if packing interesting, creative and edible lunches for children isn’t enough of a chore, having those lunches publicly examined and graded according to some unspecified standard of health angers and offends me.
I don’t care whether they go the field trip: don’t you be judging my child’s lunch!
Tamara is a food savvy, nurturing parent who will continue packing “un-healthy” & pointless lunches for her kids.