Do you often hear this, soon after the kids return home from school: “I am starving?” Or they will not say anything, but their actions give the same message. They have their heads in the refrigerator and their hand in the cookie jar. You say, “Wait until after dinner!” But what if they are truly hungry? What if the lunch and snack you packed does not actually satisfy their real nutrition needs?
Isn’t it interesting how much harder it is to place a meal in a box than it is to serve at the table? A school day requires a lot of energy from both mind and body. Rest can replenish it, but not without good fuel. Here is a trick to help you decipher your kids’ hunger.
For a few days, pack a lunch for yourself that is an exact replica of what you placed in your child’s lunch box. You may increase the portions to accommodate your slightly larger stomach, but all ingredients must be identical. Try to do this for a week.
How do you feel each day and as the week progresses? If the food satisfies you, perhaps what needs extra attention for your child is the presentation. If you feel tired and hungry, or find yourself craving carbs in the form of sweet treats, you may want to reconsider the composition of your child’s lunch.
Another question to ask yourself, especially if your child barely touches what you placed in their lunch box, is this: Is there anything in the presentation or choice of foods that could make him or her feel uncomfortable when comparing with the lunch of classmates? Perhaps your child has outgrown the crust-less bread and animal-shaped rice mold! He may not tell you, for fear of hurting your feelings. Or does a classmate eat something different and healthy they she would really like to try?
Does you child get teased about his food? There is a fun way to resolve this issue. Add a few extra home-made cookies to share. Better yet, add a couple of portions of that home-made applesauce she gets teased about so that your child can share some. Do not be surprised if you receive a call from mothers asking for your recipe… or to borrow your Squeezo! Parents of foreign heritage use this strategy when their children are teased due to the unfamiliar foods they bring to school. It can really turn things around.