What My Kid Eats

Each day, when I pick up my son, they give me a little white piece of paper with details on what he ate, how many times they changed his diaper, what he did for play. I always focus on what he ate.

They give him Weetabix and whole grain toast for breakfast. A nice hot lunch of rice, potatoes or noodles with chicken, lamb, Quorn or beef and some vegetables. He is not permitted sugar so he has fruit for dessert, and for his afternoon snack, he gets bread and butter, or crackers and butter.

He can’t have dairy as he is intolerant.  He drinks soy formula and rice milk for now.

When he first went to nursery, they sat me down and went through the menu, I could ask about the way the food was prepared, I could bring in special foods, or delist foods from his menu. I delisted dairy, apart from a small serving of yogurt which he can tolerate. I delisted pork and sugar also as I think they are unnecessary for a small child. Children should not be given sugar – it really is irresponsible.

Anyway, isn’t it wonderful that I can impose my views and thinking on the nursery? (They don’t serve organic foods, but if they had the budget and more families demanded it I’m sure they would.) Being a control freak, I love this!

Now, as he gets older, this will change. I will have to educate him well so that he knows what to eat and why. I can only hope he will comply.

Will I trust his school to impart this knowledge? Uh, no. Should I? Uh, maybe.

You know, good nutrition isn’t rocket science. Its common sense. Yet, many schools continue to undo whatever good they propose to do by educating children, by de-educating them in matters of home, kitchen, nutrition, and gardening. Its like a totally separate process entirely divorced from engendering knowledge and intelligence.

And the whole issue of school lunches and dinners is so politicized. Everyone is hammering on about government regulations and subsidized food, the conversation is endless.

Parents that care, we probably get some cut-through. I for one would not tolerate my kid eating crap, or crap food being readily available for his immature mind to select. Sugary soda, candy bars, pizza, processed food, potato chips, French Fries, low grade burgers – if this was available to my son in a school, I would go beserk.

But some parents don’t care as much. Or at all.

Then there is a large group of people (I am among them) who feel that schools must take the place of parents during the day, and facilitate education and decision-making about food. I agree.

Schools must be responsible and budget for trained staff who can cook and serve wholesome food, and only quality wholesome foods should be purchased and consumed in an educational environment. (Now, if the family wants to send the kid to school with his own pink milk and barbecue flavored potato chips – shame on them. Its wrong, but that’s their bad decision.)

Also, wherever possible schools should add gardening clubs to the curriculum, and add old fashioned home economics, nutrition and cooking classes back into the curriculum also. Food education is as vital as sex education. Or reading or writing for that matter.

Idealistic? Politicized? What isn’t?

To knock down the levels of childhood and adult obesity, and the eye-watering costs that are breaking health systems, this very basic issue of food must be addressed.

Parents who care? Make sure you scrutinize that school menu. Take it to a nutritionist – a team of parents can raise enough cash to take a school menu to a nutritionist for review. Take your findings back to the school. Insist they make changes.

Make your kid’s lunch. Tough but do-able. Try it a few times a week. Jamie Oliver has great ideas for kids’ lunch boxes. Although he endorses chocolate snacks and he cooks with a lot of dairy, sugar and white flour which could be avoided.

Ensure the school isn’t selling bad food in vending machines. No child should EVER have easy access to white sugar in any form. Sugar in any form is a poison. Ditto trans or hydrogenated fats.

Restrict your kid’s access to crap foods at home or on the move. Get all the junk out of the house, for everyone’s benefit. Just don’t buy it. If you don’t know what junk food is – print out my shopping list. There are no junk foods or processed foods on that list. Use it as a basis for your weekly shop.

Parents who don’t care? You’re probably not reading my blog, but if you are thinking about caring, or are trying to correct a weight problem in one of your children, please get informed and involved about what your kid is eating – at home and at school. Subscribe to my blog and print out my shopping list.

Everyone should read my post on our food culture, and also what foods should be avoided and why.  These are inspiring no-brainers.

School governors, teachers and administrators? I do hope that the success of a school will one day be measured on the health of its student body – weight and overall fitness. It is your responsibility to budget for the health of your student body. No money? Work to find alternative subsidies and get creative. You’re in the business of educating – make sure you’re doing your job.

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  1. July 24, 2010 at 2:25 pm

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