What? Are healthy-only snacks the new black on playgrounds? With more communities becoming aware of and educated about the importance nutrition’s role for kids, is today’s insidious image-conscious peer pressure extending to lunchboxes? — BadWitch
Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — I love my children more than anything in the world. I would never do anything to endanger them or their health, and we’re omnivores living in Berkeley the home of the health conscious and PC. I pack their lunches with pretty kid-friendly healthy foods and a treat. My 12 year old daughter has been reporting her friends have been harassing her (like peer pressure over sugar and fats) about these treats which depending on a lot of things, can be anything from a bag of regular chips, a small candy bar, or cookies. What can I do? Packing them helps her eat the good stuff without blinking and I believe she still wants them no matter what her weight conscious friends say. I know this is childhood, but I don’t want any of my kids to suffer needlessly. What do I do? — Lunchbox Mama
Dear Lunchbox Mama,
Really? Is she sure they’re not just trying to guilt her into sharing her booty of goodies with them? They who are otherwise deprived of sweets and all the tastes that round out and make for a happy childhood? I would think she’s the bomb and Ms. Congeniality 1 and 2 among her peers with her stash of luck you so thoughtfully (and I agree in your balanced view of eating — steadiness not depravation help avoid binge eating) pack for her — but if the kids (especially girls) at her school are hyper weight and image conscious (which starts in our society younger and younger; studies show age 9 girls now diet en masse), please address that by consistently helping her with (self-)appreciation of beauty in all sizes.
…but as you live in an often dogmatic city like Berkeley…my playground-jungle city girl mind jumps right back to her friends/peers trying to take a bite of some forbidden high fructose from her. You might suggest she judiciously share her snacks as she sees fit (kids always know who’s what), start a “treats trading club,” and/or otherwise start learning to worry less what other people think about her (Berkeley mom), and focus more on doing right by her own values. If she opts for the first and second, you might beneficially arm her with some take-away (not take-out) nutrition facts about all the lunch items you pack: which are good carbs, how there are health-friendly sugars and even the “bad” ones in controlled moderation are fine for most people, and good fats are necessary for a growing (and everyone else’s) body’s healthy development.
Maybe her “reporting” is being misinterpreted by you as harassment. Maybe your daughter is actually proud of the attention these lucky snacks are getting her. Ask her how her friends’ comments make her feel, and then pack more guidance and clear-eyed support of both her nutrition and social and problem-solving maturation processes.
A wellness first sweet-toother,
Dear Lunchbox Mama,
In the land of grilled tofu sandwiches with a side of veggie chips, potato chips and candy are both coveted and hated. But, you’re OK, Mama. Small treats are all about balance. And all sugar and fats are not alike.
Remember the 70’s when we were told margarine (yes, hydrogenated oils and all) were better for us that that nasty, all natural butter. Well, we know differently now. All things in balance. A little butter, a little olive oil is good for you. Have you seen Sophia Loren lately?
First off, dark chocolate is good for blood flow and increases serotonin in the brain, you know the hormone that makes you happy. In fact, some research says it increases or mimics oxytocin in the system. Oxytocin is the hormone that allows you to feel loved and connected. Mothers and babies experience it during breastfeeding. Ever see how blissed out milk-drunk babies are after breast feeding?
Visit Trader Joe’s . An excellent selection of chips and cheese puffs made with all natural ingredients and less oil. Dark chocolate covered shortbread cookies and other treats that mange to combine whole grains and/or nuts with chocolate. That’s right, happy hormones with a little protein on the backside to make the god mood and the energy last—right through the draggy afternoon classes. Treats that don’t dent the sweetness or the spice of life are important—especially for middle school girls!
Arm your daughter with knowledge about the nutritional benefits of her food. Middle school girls have enough obsession around food and weight to create more drama around food. Give her the wisdom how to eat well and balance the veggies with the treats of life. There is nothing wrong with indulging. Remember how nutty Solieri http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086879 went after denying himself ? Remember how he gorged himself in some areas of his life because he denied himself so harshly in others?
You get it, Mama. I’m preaching to the choir. Keep packing the good balanced lunches. Now, give yourself and your daughter the knowledge that will empower you, your daughter and your choices. Give her the tools to speak up against the bullying. And let’s be serious, if you can’t just eat what you like to eat without being judged and ridiculed, you are being bullied to think a certain way and act a certain way. It doesn’t matter if that fanatical need to control comes from the right or the left—it’s still bullying.
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