The last time I did a reader question was when I answered via Adoption Stress. Today the pendulum swings to another favorite topic of mine, and so….food questions and answers.
I was recently forwarded an email with subject line, “Healthy School Lunch Information.”
With all the recent buzz about fake news, I couldn’t help but correlate the content of this email to the concept of “fake news.”
Here is a snippet from the email,
To this end:
Try to include a protein, vegetable and a fruit each day. You will not always succeed, but at least try to get either a fruit or a vegetable included. A healthy carb is also a good item to include, bagels, biscuits, sandwich bread are all good carbs. Chips are not as healthy, but it is certainly better than a sugar snack. A little treat is nice to include, but please try to make it cookies or a granola bar, not donuts or super sugary snacks. For drinks, we highly recommend water! This will help with the cost of lunch as well.
With all this in mind, we need to ask that certain items are not included in your children’s lunches.
Thank you so much for your help with this!
I didn’t know if I should write this post because I know that in the mamahood community, thoughts and opinions around food tend to get fairly heated.
But I just had to because it’s such fake news, and parents all over the country could be receiving information like this.
And maybe more than anything, you should know that reason I felt okay writing this is because I’m far from the dogmatic food-mama most think I am.
I am a real food mama, but I don’t believe that children should follow any specific diet (unless medically necessary, which I have had to deal with).
My children eat the way they do because they want to eat like Ryan and me, because I make eating “healthy” things taste good, and because this is just the way we choose to live our lives. But did they eat 17.5 pieces of horrible candy on Easter? Yes. Do they eat things I would never buy when they leave our house? Of course. Am I concerned? Nope. Not overly. (Then again, after Ryan read Gary Taubes’ book, The Case Against Sugar, we are thinking even more about sugar – for all of us.)
Back to the email.
It’s fake news. So on that….
Healthy School Lunch Information
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Dear school lunch director,
To this end:
Thank you for reminding everyone that including a protein, vegetable, and fruit each day is good practice. You are absolutely right, and I wish that all children could have plates filled with each of those at every meal.
I am, however, concerned with various “healthy” tips in your email.
First, I am assuming you are well aware that (albeit mostly lower in overall value) vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates. If we accept that, then it might be more accurate to note “an additional healthy carb is also a good item to include.”
But beyond that, (most) bagels, biscuits, and sandwich bread hardly qualify as healthy carbohydrates for the average consumer. If you would like some ideas of wonderful high-carbohydrate sources you might start with that resource. Kids also love rice, and that’s something cheap and easy for parents to send along.
However, this statement is very confusing and inaccurate, “A little treat is nice to include, but please try to make it cookies or a granola bar, not donuts or super sugar snacks.” Candy, sodas, and donuts are not the only things that constitute a sugary snack. Sugar is everywhere, and these days those “simple” cookies and granola bars are also packed with sugar. The average family could read this and say, “Alright, I’ll send Jimmy to school today with just three Oreos and a Quaker Chewy Granola Bar.” By doing so, they think they have made such a great decision with minimal sugar, and yet with just a few bites, Jimmy has just eaten 21 grams of sugar (enough for the entire day).
And yes, thank you for recommending water! Since we are mostly made of water, I appreciate that you mentioned this for all parents to take into consideration.
I would be more than happy to speak with you at length on providing parents the best and most accurate information. I am happy to put together several lunch and snack ideas that you could send out to parents. I am even happy to help field any questions about “what makes a healthy lunch” from parents who may reach out to you with questions.
Thank you for all that you’re doing to help our children.
Mama always on a mission
p.s. For the record, if I was sent an email like this from my child’s school, I would absolutely respond this way. Furthermore, I would absolutely be more than willing to help provide the “how-to’s” to help parents navigate because I know it’s not easy if you’re not as passionate about food as I am. If we want our children to truly thrive all day long without crashing and burning, then accurate “healthy” information must be shared.