Every parent wants to have a healthy child that performs well in school and at home. A healthy child is
- energetic, but not destructive,
- enthusiastic but not hyperactive, and
- is well behaved, but not subdued.
Your wish for a great child doesn’t end with a good breakfast. A great lunch is also important for a growing child. Although packing lunch may seem like a simple act of filling a brown paper bag with the leftovers, the preparation of your child’s lunch is actually a summary of your parental skills. Your child’s lunch shows:
- what you know about nutrition
- how much you care about your child’s nutrition, and
- whether you have leadership skills
1. What you know about nutrition
It is a reflection of what you eat, and what you keep in the kitchen. You won’t be packing croissants if you did not buy them. If you are a vegetarian you will not be sending your child to school with pork chops. You would not be packing sandwiches if you stay away from grains.
Your child’s lunch accurately reflects your culinary preferences, as it is only a slightly modified version of what you eat. If you do not think your child’s lunch is nutritious, you need to give a good look at your fridge and pantry. You want to change your child’s eating habits? You need to start with your own.
The very basic thing you need to change first is to drop sugar and that includes hidden sugar. Do not ever pack cakes, cookies, candies or fruit juices. They drop school performance, contribute to hyperactivity, and drain energy. Do not use them unless you want a lazy unruly child.
Sweetened or unsweetened fruit juices make not much difference. Even unsweetened fruit juices carry sugar equivalent of a regular cola. Flour products such as bread, pizza dough, pasta, belong to a category of hidden sugars.
Whole grain breads are not any better than white flour equivalents when it comes to sugar. Flour is nothing but glucose molecules joint together, or simple sugar masquerading as something else. When you join glucose to glucose, to glucose, to glucose…. you end up with flour, i.e. bread, pasta, and buns. From now on think twice about sandwiches, pizzas, and hamburger buns.
2. How much you care about your child’s nutrition
If your child is overweight and you are as well, do not fool yourself into thinking it’s your unfortunate “genetics”. It is likely your unfortunate culinary and dietary habits. If your child does not perform well in sports due to poor stamina and lack of energy, check your own physique. Are you athletic? Likely you too do not have enough energy to have physical fun.
Nutrition can make or break your energy, your physical performance, as well as define body proportions. If you think your child is underperforming in any of these areas, start with upgrading nutrition. Excuses will not work here.
It does not matter that your bad lunch comes from lack of time, lack of organization, lack of creativity, or lack of ingredients. Poor nutrition produces poor results, so leave your excuses behind and make your child your priority, and most of all do not forget to check your kid’s lunch tomorrow. It will show your own learning curve.
3. If you have leadership skills
You are a role model and a leader for your child. You are followed and copied even if you do not realize it.
- Do not expect your child to love vegetables if you shun them yourself.
- Do not expect your child to help preparing a meal if you openly complain that cooking is a chore.
- Do not expect your child to eat a soft-boiled egg if you make disgusted faces at the yellow runs of a yolk.
- Do not expect your child to love butter if you are a low-fat fanatic.
Pay attention to what you say, how you act, and what you believe in. Your child is a reflection of you.
How to make nutritious lunches that are devoured by your picky eater? Start with engaging your child in making a dish, and as you are working on it teach your child the importance of this dish.
Say, that vegetables have fibre. Fibre makes you poop. Pooping makes you lighter, so you can be faster in running. Say, that butter has cholesterol, cholesterol makes hormones that make kids grow.
Say, that avocados are great fruit, fruit like no other, a fruit that has enough fat and carbohydrates to make one energized yet not hyperactive. It helps with focus and school performance.
Start with your own nutritional education, share it with your kid, prepare lunches together and be consistent with your messages. The results with come along faster than you think.
Better education leads to better nutrition leads to better performance, for your kid, and without excuses: also YOU.
So, get going with upgrading family nutrition. Here are some suggestions: