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School Lunches

The other morning I was running around the house trying to get a few emails sent, the kids lunches made, the kids dressed, get myself ready for training all while trying to tidy up the house. As I was getting the kids lunches made, I realised we were short on EVERYTHING and now that my kids have decided they like NOTHING, I was scraping the bottom of the barrel to make half-decent lunches. I made the joke to the kids that they should not tell anyone what I do for a job.

Later in the day I got to thinking about what I’d said and how, as parents, we put so much pressure on ourselves. It also made me think about what is really important in terms of raising healthy, well-adjusted children. Whilst I absolutely think a good diet is important, it wouldn’t be in my top 5 necessary conditions to raise healthy kids. This is what I think supersedes diet and exercise; kids need stability, they need parents who are engaged, who love them and set boundaries for them. Ultimately, kids need consistency and security. These conditions are essential to children growing up happy and healthy. Of course I think diet and exercise are important but it is unlikely that a bad diet will cause a child to grow up maladjusted. Children rarely end up in counselling over having McDonalds one too many times or not getting to the park that one Wednesday afternoon in 2005. 

And when it comes to exercise, children will usually do it by themselves if they’re put outside, without electronics and told to play. Children have wild imaginations that thrive when you as a parent, do nothing. The less you do, the more they have to rely on their own imaginations and they will spontaneously play. This encourages brain development, creativity and will get them moving. And of course a healthy diet is important to healthy brain development but the idea of health has been hijacked by the food nazis and the wellness advocates to the point where parents are freaking out over GMOs, additives, real sugar, fake sugar, too much salt, not enough salt, too much fibre, not enough fibre, fat, fatty fat, slim fat, fake fat, no fat, fat, fat, fat! Did I mention fat? It was never meant to be this way! Health is multifactorial and our diet is just one component of that. If we feed our children a mostly healthy diet – i.e. some veggies, protein and fruit each week; chances are they will be fine. PS I grew up having Vita-Brits or muesli for breakfast, le-Snacks, roll-ups or muesli bars for morning tea, sandwiches for lunch, fruit and chips in the afternoon and big dinners with veggies, meat and either rice or pasta for dinner! We had so much carbohydrate in our diet and yet I have grown up mostly unharmed 😉 There are so many factors to good health and how much carbohydrate and sugar you have is just one piece of a very complex puzzle!

At the end of the day our children need US. They need parens who love them and who are engaging with them. They don’t need a perfect diet, which is lucky as there’s no such thing. Life is already hard enough without putting unnecessary pressure and judgement on ourselves! Parents are already doing a crazy juggling act without adding food guilt to their already full list! So just do the best you can with the skills, knowledge, finances, time and patience you have! And then don’t worry about the rest (and know that even a nutritionist’s kid’s lunch box doesn’t always look like what you might see in a magazine). If your kids are safe, they feel secure and they know they’re loved; then you are doing a wonderful job. Sometimes I think we miss the forest for the trees and forget to give ourselves credit for getting the MOST important things right about raising children.

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