Note from Joy: Dr. La has two adorable girls and I know she's a healthy mama so I thought it would be fun to sneak a peak inside her kids' lunch boxes! She always includes a special surprise, something my mom did too :)
As a mother of a kindergarten student and a pre-schooler, I am familiar with the challenges of consistently providing healthy, packable lunch to a (somewhat) picky eater, with limited time.
The value of eating healthy food cannot be over-stated: healthy food; food that provides energy and nutrients, doesn’t “spike” blood-sugar levels, and is easily digested helps your child make the most of every day. It gives them energy without hyperactivity, it helps them concentrate without distraction by “jitters”, head- or tummy-aches or fatigue, and helps to keep their immune system strong.
Also, and very importantly, the vast majority of chronic illnesses are lifestyle-related. Developing a habit of eating, enjoying and valuing healthy food is a cornerstone of a healthy adult lifestyle.
I follow three guidelines when “assembling” school lunches:
Processed foods are inherently less healthy than fresh foods, because they contain added sugar, fat, salt, and preservatives. Continually eating processed foods also makes it more difficult get kids to eat fresh foods because their palates become habituated to the more “intense” flavours engineered into processed foods. A strawberry, which is naturally sweet, pales next to a Pop Tart, which is loaded with sugar.
I don’t include sweets as they have an affect on behaviour and to avoid creating a habit of casually eating unhealthy foods. Our diet at home is not without sweets, but we include them as “treats”, enjoyed at special meals, with friends or at celebrations, not because “it’s Tuesday and I just ate lunch”.
Something I do, not exactly in the place of sweets, but to make lunch a little “special” for Esmé, is to include a love note, so she has a pleasant surprise when she opens her lunch.
The lunches I make for Esmé are typically composed of:
Packing home-made lunches does take time, but it is time invested, not “spent”. It helps optimize their success at school, supports the creation of a value system that includes a healthy lifestyle, and can potentially improve the bond between parent and child, letting them know that you are thinking of them during the day!