One of the things that I have been noticing lately that really bugs me about nutrition and my kids is how much JUNK is available to them. Each day at school my son comes home with 3-4 pieces of candy for doing well. Smarties, Tootsie rolls, gum, etc, he has a handful each day when he gets off the bus. I have him bring it home each day, I ask that he not eat it, and we save it all in a bag for movie theater treats and such. I know he’d rather eat it right away (I mean, he’s eight and candy is LIFE), but I have different goals for him.
*I want to say, I am not blaming his teacher. I have been in her shoes and it is fun rewarding the kids for doing well, but what does that teach them? Kids can be equally motivated with stickers or erasers. I get teaching is hard (been there), but there has got to be a better way to motivate and reward. We all do better when we know better.
I also have an issue with the availability of sno-cones and ice cream weekly for a fee, as well as the ability to buy a “snack” each day, that is often chips. I’ve noticed more and more that schools use food ands treats as a fundraiser and incentives. This isn’t an issue when it is a rare thing, but treats and such are available to them almost every single day, multiple times a day. The breakfast and lunch menus are balanced from a nutrition standpoint, but high sugar cereal bars and pop tarts are not really acceptable in my eyes for meals at school.
I also see this at soccer games when we all have a “snack” day. I mean, I hate the fact that kids run around for an hour and require a snack in the first place, BUT, why must we bring them Gatorade and cookies and equally unhealthy things? Teaching kids to fuel their bodies after activities with sugar and carbs is not the way. Mine knows to just hand the snacks to me if they are cookies and such, but I know this is hard. No one wants to say no or “not now” to fun treats, but this is life and staying away from some things most of the time is a good skill to have.
I am obviously health conscious and really enjoy living my best life from a nutrition and physical activity standpoint, and it is really important to me that my kids have a good foundation of knowledge so they can live their best lives. I want them to understand that what they put in their bodies matters. I’m not psycho about it, they have movie theater popcorn and ice cream and treats, but I always talk to them about choices. They can have an ice cream at school, but it is a choice that means they might not get a treat later on. Treats are just that, a treat, and they are only special and worthy of they are a little rare. I want them to just think before they eat. They know that their mama packs them healthy snacks and lunch for school and makes them smoothies in the morning so that their bodies will be fueled for the day. I have the knowledge to send them off for the day with good foods, but I know a lot of people just don’t. Again, we all do better when we know better, but for many, te knowledge about what is healthy or not is just not there.
(This post was inspired by a conversation I had with my cashier this morning when I checking out after grocery shopping. She was a 23-year-old pre diabetic and she mentioned how :”healthy” my stuff looked and we ended up chatting for 10 minutes or so about little things she can do to tweak her diet to help her out (she asked, I’d never lecture someone;)
My kids and I talk about the basics of how protein helps them grow strong, and how good fats help their brain think better, and that certain carbs are good for energy, and that too much sugar is not good for their growing bodies. They are 8 + 9 and both are so much more aware than I was until about 5 years ago! I never want them to think that much about it because they are KIDS, but they are old enough to look around and see that having a bag of chocolate chip cookies after an hour of soccer isn’t the best option, nor is eating candy at school necessary.
I truly think that having the knowledge that food fuels your body for what it needs to do is so important. Seeing kids walk around with soda and cookies and not having the ability to eat in a balanced way hurts me. I get that bad for you foods are cheaper and it is just easy to feed kids certain things (I mean, I buy hot dogs and mac and cheese, too…), but how can we teach kids to eat well if it isn’t at school or after sports? It truly starts with us, and the knowledge to know what is good and not good. Basic good nutrition should be available to everyone at all income levels. I know breakfast and lunch us FREE where we live, but why must free mean not good for you? Let’s teach our kids that what we fuel our bodies with is important.
Okay, rant over! What are YOUR thoughts on this issue? Do you see this where you live, too?