Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year: R.I.P Little Debbie

I feel compelled to share something my son experienced today at school.  My oldest started kindergarten this year.  Naturally, we made the decision to pack his lunch every day.   This is the highlight of my day.  He and I plan out his meals.  I pack creative cut outs, fun dips and use cool containers.  It's the lunch of a King....or so I thought. 

A few months ago my son started asking if he could have lunchables.  A little strange considering we don't buy them, talk about them, or even pass them in the grocery store.  He said the kids at school bring them and it looks cool.  Sure- what's not to love about tons of sodium, a chocolate cookie and a Kool Aid Jammer.  I offered to make him an even better lunchable with a healthy twist.  So we started buying low sodium ham, low fat cheese, and a healthier cracker to create our own version.  Voila!  Mom saves the day....or so I thought. 

For an entire week leading up to Christmas break our son came home with his lunchbox essentially untouched.  He would eat it when he got home, but appeared to show no interest in eating it at school.  His reasons varied each day:  he forgot to eat lunch, he didn't have time, he wasn't hungry.  He hasn't forgotten a meal at home EVER and sixty minutes rarely passes without him being hungry.  Something was up.  Hopefully this would pass.

Yeahh!  First day back to school from Christmas break.  We pack an awesome "new year" lunch.  He gets home and the lunchbox was yet again, untouched.  We sit down for our heart-to-heart and he admits that he doesn't want to eat in front of the kids at school because they make fun of what he brings.  Are you kidding me?  My brain immediately kicks into fight mode.  I couldn't process the ramifications of my responses quick enough.  My gut responses would have only made the situation worse.   (1)  These kid are idiots.  Don't believe them.  Great way to make new friends Mom.  (2)  These kids will probably be overweight one day from eating twinkies and lunchables for their entire life.  Don't attack the kids.  They only eat what their parents give them.  (3)  You're going to be stronger, smarter and more athletic than them.  Too competitive.  My mother's initial response was even worse.  (1)  I'm going to drive to Charleston and beat up every five year old that makes fun of my grandson. 

After my brain settled down, my husband and I began to have a logical conversation with our son.  Our approach was simple.  We explained that he eats good food to keep his body healthy and strong.  It helps him to learn more in school and he's rarely ever sick.  As for handling the lunchable bullies at school, we simply told him to ignore what they say, sit with a different person, or tell them that you really enjoy eating healthy food (and he really does).  Not sure this was the perfect response, but it seemed to be the pep talk that he needed. 

So my son's in bed, he's happy and ready for a new day...and Mom is still fired up.  My frustration is mounting but we refuse to waiver. We will not give in to Little Debbie's and Dorito's for lunch. This is why we have so many health problems in the US.  This is why our obesity rates are worse than ever.  This is why 1 in 4 kids are overweight.  Why is "cool" defined by pre-packaged products with a cartoon character on them.  My kids want to drink out of a juice bottle shaped like Buzz Lightyear.  That's not juice.  It's sugar and water.  The bottle clearly says "This produce contains 0% juice" yet people still buy it because it's cool.  I'm drawing space rockets on water bottles just trying to make it look a little more appealing than Batman on a juice box.  How do you compete with that? 

The stigma attached to healthy foods is nearly as bad as the stigma attached to twinkies and big macs.   Until we change our thoughts we will never change our life.  Our future will be more grim than our past.  In fact, studies show that for the first time since the Great Depression, children may have a shorter life expectancy than their parent's generation due to an alarming increase in childhood obesity.  This is insane!  And the most disappointing part of it doesn't have to be this way. 

So, today's experience has further inspired my mission to help families adopt a healthy eating lifestyle.  Think you don't need it?  Think again.  We all need it. 

I know this is overwhelming and for our "little debbie lovers" this can seem like a challenge too big to tackle.  Let me assure you though, it can happen.  My family did it and you can too.  It doesn't need to happen over night.  It took our family over one year to transition to healthy family meals.  We're not perfect, but we've come a long way.  My kids went from eating microwave chicken nuggets and canned green beans to salmon, fresh vegetables and Mc...who?   Our grocery bill actually dropped (processed food is expensive), our kids are healthier, energy levels are up, moods are good and weight is at a good level for all.  

We owe it to our kids to give this a try.  Remember...they eat what we buy.  Now is the perfect time to set a goal of making small changes each day.  If you can improve just 1% a day, imagine what December 2012 will look like for you and your family.  Just 1% a day.  You don't need to go at this with "guns a blazin."  This is a lifestyle change.  My friends just made the switch to 100% juice.  That's awesome!  It's a small improvement with a huge payoff.   

To give you a little boost, my goal is to post a tip or motivational statement each day in 2012 to help you make the transition.  Check out our HKI facebook page to get started. 

Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.  

1 comment:

  1. I have really enjoyed this post! i was one of the "little debbie" and "lunchables" kids. with my first child I gave her what I had always had for lunch and now that we are making a transition to a heathier lifestyle it is extremely difficult. She is age 7 and I am having the same issue with her and packing her lunch. She would rather not eat all day then to be made fun of. She is even refusing dinner because I am baking, steaming and broiling foods rather than frying them. I have children ages 1 through 5 in my care currently and we have implemented the Healthy Kids Inc. recipes. Thank goodness the transition is easier for the younger ones. Thank you for making this post it really made me feel like we can work it out and I sincerely appreciate what you are doing. I am so sorry to hear that your child is having such a difficult time with bullying over what he is bringing for lunch. :(


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