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This morning was a bit rough. I slept through my alarm, not normal for me, and was rushed trying to get M1's lunch put together. Not going to lie, letting her get a hot lunch today was almost what I went with. I did sit in front of the fridge scratching my head for bit, we had very little leftovers to work with, and I did a poor job of prep ahead options.
I normally do not do a lot of sandwiches. M1 is not a big bread eater, and when I do make them, she is very likely to eat the meat and veggies out of it and leave the bread...even the good stuff. But, a sandwich is what she is getting today. I had some Diesel Brand Deli Turkey, which I get more for hubby, so that's what we went with. M1 loves her veggies, so I loaded it with lettuce, avocado, basil, and cucumber.
My Lunchbox DON'Ts
We have talked quite a bit about my Lunchbox Do's. Let's look at the don'ts. These are the things that I DON'T add to my kids lunchbox.
Overly Processed Foods
Yes, there are times that I add something that is packaged, but there is typically great scrutiny to the ingredients. I look at food additives and chemicals. The packaged goods that I buy are those that do not have added junk...
That being said, everyone fails from time to time. I failed yesterday, (hangs head in shame) but I feel I should share this. Yesterday was M1's half day of school, so after school we went to the library and ran some errands. While we were out the girls were "starving," and absolutely needed a snack. We were at TJ Maxx, which if you don't know has a food aisle. This food aisle has a mix of healthy options and non-healthy options. I decided, after a lot of whining by the girls, to let them pick out a snack. I said no to many things, and they said no to the things I picked. We all agreed on some trail mix. M2 picked out one that I actually read the label and liked, and M1 didn't want that one and grabbed one that had M&M type candies in it. I really wasn't paying attention and didn't notice what she had actually picked (I can usually trust her decisions)...Fail. After this shopping adventure, M1 had Jiu Jitsu class. During class she was Scrappy M. Meaning she was not holding back, but she was also very fidgety and had a hard time focusing on the coaches. Not her normal behavior. A friend of mine and I were talking and joking around about her, and he asked what I had fed her today. GOOD QUESTION. I mentioned she had some trail mix on the way over, but nothing too sugary (she is very sensitive to sugar). I pulled out the bag, and wanted to slap myself. Oh the Irony!!! I had just written yesterday's blog on Food Dye's and Additives and Child Behavior, how could I have let this slide. Not only did it have a plethora of food dyes, but also a ton of added sugar....WHY!!!! No one is perfect, and as much as we try, we often miss simple things, or do something that we know we shouldn't.
I hope that story helps you, but that being said, my general rule is I do not buy pre-made lunch packs (like lunchables), and I try to pick packages and bottled products that fit my dietary rules, and do not have added nonsense.
Make it Too Sterile
I think some parents try too hard to make their kids lunches super healthy, and they loose the entice and fun of it. Keep it light and fun. If you make it "too healthy" without having an element of excitement, the hot cafeteria lunch becomes cooler and cooler. Sometimes it means adding in that special something or other. Sometimes it means drawing faces on the banana, just add an element of child-like fun to their lunch. A little goes a long way.
M1 was super excited about the Pumpkin Noose Yogurt today. We don't do flavored yogurt very often (tons of sugar), and when we do it is a treat. By paring it with something she usually wouldn't like, it balances it out. Making her less likely to cringe at her own lunch and want the funky tasting pizza everyone else is having.
Give Too Much Added Sugar
Usually if I am adding something, like this flavored yogurt, I try to balance it out with extra protein and fat. I find that sometimes we get a little carried away without even knowing it. Added sugars can hide is the simplest things. Lunch meats can have added sugar for flavor, obviously flavored yogurts, jerky, juice boxes, PB and J sandwiches etc... A little natural sugar is okay, kids are high energy and actually do need a bit more of this than adults do, but that doesn't mean they need cookies and cupcakes in their lunchboxes. Natural sugars, like honey and fresh fruits, provide a steady flow of energy to active kids.
Pack Large Meals
This may seem like a weird one, large meals? Think portion sizes. If you child is already overwhelmed, or if you are having a struggle with your child not eating their lunch, don't give them more than they can possibly eat in the allotted time. Keep it manageable. I like that our school has 2 snack times, this way I can keep the main lunch smaller and more reasonable. Don't try and pack too much into one meal.
Most of us don't enjoy eating the same thing every day. Our kids do better if we mix it up. Not only does it give them multiple nutrient sources, but it keeps them guessing, and keeps in interesting.
If your child takes the same lunch everyday, they may have nutrient sink holes. Slowly start mixing it up. If they like their PB and J sandwich everyday, start changing up the sides. Add half a PB and J and have a turkey sandwich, or a half a PB and J and a small cup of soup.