I’m going to get on a soapbox today. And the topic for my soapbox is “How our Children Eat Today.” In fact, at ML school I did the photography for a handbook that we put together on just this topic. What I see children eating disturbs me. It is not uncommon to see student lunches full of prepackaged processed foods such as dipping crackers, yogurt tubes, and all manner of attractive packaging that looks good but is full of empty calories, preservatives, salt and sugar. At ML nutrition is an issue that the staff cares about and there are even patrols who come to check student lunches and give rewards if they have certain items such as fruit in their lunches. The school is doing all that it can to try to persuade students of eat properly but it is still not enough.
I can understand why parents give in to students demands for prepackaged lunches. They are easy and as I said, they do look attractive, but it is also my belief that a lot of the problems that students have with learning and behaviour today are caused by the lack of nutrition in their diet. And the lack of exercise as well, but that is another story. I remember one incident from when I was a classroom teacher. In an attempt to encourage students to eat fruits and vegetables at school, I had a storytime during which students were only allowed to eat fruits and vegetables. If they had other stuff as a snack, they could still eat their snack but they had to eat it outside at recess.
I had one student, who I will call C. C continued to bring prepackaged tins of fruit to eat during this time. When questioned as to why he was doing this when the rule was clearly that they had to eat the natural product, he replied that his mother did not have the time to put something together for his lunch. It never occurred to him that he could put a piece of fruit into his lunch and that it would be just as easy as grabbing the packaged fruit. And C was heavy and he did have learning problems. Were too much sugar, salt and preservatives leading to his problems? I have no doubt that they were. Students who eat whole foods such as whole grain breads with cheese, yogurt out a tub, and fruits and vegetables often are the ones who do better in school. That is of course, my unscientific obversation. I think a long term study following how students eat and their academic performance would prove me right.
So why not stock up on whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables and put those into your child’s lunches? You will save money and your child will benefit.
Here is Nate, one of my very favorite little people, with a great snack.