After teaching Kindergarten PE classes at my boys’ school, I would often walk past the Kinder lunch tables on my way out. I’ll never forget that first day, peeking over the shoulders of each child to see the contents of their lunchbox. With it being my first year as a parent with school-age children, I wanted to see where I measured up with what the other parents were packing.
As a health and fitness blogger and someone who “walks the walk”, I know that my expectation of what constitutes a healthy diet is above average. But even still, seeing these children’s lunches made me feel like some kind of health-nut alien from an alternate universe. I stood horrified as I took in all the sugary, processed, and “food-like” products in front of them.
Dessert puddings void of any real nutrients, granola bars jam-packed with refined sugars, “fruit” gummies chalk-full of chemical colorings (but no real fruit), juice boxes made with more High Fructose Corn Syrup than a bottle of soda, and despite the school district’s supposed “no-candy” rule, there were even a few chocolate bars. As a small boy tapped me on the arm, I snapped out of my horrified deer-in-the-headlights state to find the proverbial icing on the cake -- he was asking me to open his Pixy Stix! I mean, an honest-to-goodness paper straw full of nothing but straight-up chemically-flavored sugar! I thought for sure I was about to get PUNK’D but sadly, Ashton did not appear, and what I discovered week after week was that this was just another day at the school yard lunch tables.
How can a health-conscious parent compete with sugar-filled dessert lunches? How do we send our kids with healthy and nutritious food that will help them grow, think, develop and thrive when their peers are scarfing down candy in between classes?
Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is: yes, it is possible! Our family is proof of that. Better yet, the payoff of healthy kids goes far beyond a normal body weight, regulated blood sugar, better mood, and fewer emotional outbursts (although those are great benefits!).
The bad news is: getting your kids to adopt healthier eating habits takes more than just changing your shopping list. It’s a process that takes time and is most successful when adopted by the whole family.
But if you’re willing to put in the effort, your child can experience a stronger immune system, laser-like focus, healthy bones, and a proper understanding of nutrition that will serve them long after you stop making their school lunches. Our family made the transition from junk food to whole food -- and so can you -- starting with these tips!
Here are the 5 steps: