Are You Packing a Healthy School Lunch?

Recently, I had the pleasure of eating lunch with my daughter at her school.
Let me be more clear – it was a pleasure to spend that time with my daughter, but it was distressing to witness what dozens of children around us were eating. It honestly made me sad. I just couldn’t believe it, and it left me wondering where on earth to begin helping more families understand basic nutrition.
At our little table alone, one child started with an apple – that was a good thing! Then, a bag of Fritos and some Skittles. Oh, and a can of Diet Dr. Pepper. This is when my heart palpitations began.
Other students, siblings, started with a cheese sandwich on blinding white bread, then they each had a full size Snicker bar, followed by a bag of M & M’s. No beverage and nothing “live” or fresh in that lunch.
Another child had crackers and juice. That’s it. As I looked around the room, I saw that the tables were covered with wrappers of candy bars, chips, snack foods, convenience foods, pop cans, fruit drink boxes, sports drink bottles, and on and on.
The grown-ups weren’t doing much better. I saw a steady stream of teachers visiting the nearby vending machine, purchasing pop and chips, crackers, chocolate bars and other candy. Whether they like it or not, these grown-ups are serving as role models for the students.
The whole scene was rudely awakening, disturbing and it made my stomach turn. How on earth were these kids expected to return to classes in a few minutes and learn or perform with any level of optimal function if this is the fuel they’ve been given. The same can be said regarding the teachers and administrators. How can we expect them to perform at their best, considering the sub-standard fuel their brains are receiving?
Thoughts were swimming through my head: How did we get so far off track with our nutrition? Where would we even begin to fix this? What information do parents need in order to make better choices and pack healthier lunches? No wonder we have a childhood obesity epidemic! No wonder chronic illness, like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, depression, learning and attention disorders, infertility, anxiety disorders, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue and so on are at epidemic proportions… and still on the rise.
We simply cannot provide toxic and deficient “foods” with any consistency and expect the outcome to be health and optimal function! It goes against basic physiological, neurological and genetic law! The body requires pure and sufficient nutritional choices on a regular basis in order to meet our innate genetic requirements for health and function.
Our purpose when choosing food shouldn’t be just to “fill up”, but rather to “fuel up”. Toxic, nutrient-void, processed foods are usually the cheapest as well. It’s all very backwards! Unfortunately, many families (and schools) feel forced to make nutritional choices based on finances – “How much ‘food’ can I buy for this amount of money?” This can certainly lead to choices being made that come with dangerous consequences over time.
I understand that proper nutrition can be confusing and overwhelming for many families. I don’t believe that it needs to be. We don’t need to be “perfect” in order to experience better health. We simply need to make better choices more often.
Each and every one of those children would have benefited from having just ONE fresh food in their lunch that day. A piece of fruit, a fresh veggie… even just one. That would be a powerful step in the right direction. Also, every single human in that room requires water for optimal health and function. That’s a simple choice we can make to improve our health and the health of our children.
We don’t even need to begin talking about the toxic foods that could be removed! We just need to begin with adding more healthy choices. Simple.
There are so many simple improvements we can make to our nutritional choices – improvements that do not require completely overhauling our diets! We owe it to ourselves, and especially our children, to begin adding healthier options to our lifestyle. Every choice comes with a consequence. Healthier choices now mean better health in the future.

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