4 Steps To Get Your Kids To Embrace Healthy Lunches
Written by: Michelle Obermeier
Nobody told me that when I sent my kids to school with their normal lunches, it was going to make them stand out from the crowd. Okay, their mom’s a health coach so maybe their lunches lean heavily on the organic, whole food side. But the whole school-attending world doesn’t bring edamame, seaweed and chickpeas for lunch? Go figure.
You might think that standing out is a good thing and there are arguably lots of reasons why it absolutely can be a good thing. However, my kiddos weren’t so sure. They were coming home a little confused about why their food was getting called “weird,” or told it “smells funny” and who knows what else.
I have both a kindergartener and a first-grader who have both gotten lots of love and admiration for their meals, but also some sideways glances and unexpected comments when they open their lunch boxes. Maybe you can relate to this. I can’t be totally alone here…
So, if this sounds like your household, here’s what I do when my kids lunchbox makes them the oddball at school… hopefully these little tips will help you and your kiddos embrace their healthy lunches (even when they’re a little “weird”).
I stand in my kids’ shoes and think about what it is like to be the oddball. I don’t want to quickly blow off the way they feel and tell them to toughen up. I really want them to know that I get it. And it can stink. If I empathize, I can let them know that hey, it has happened to me too! If you have a story about bringing lunch to work and having to field a snide comment or any other relevant story, share, share, share. You have a chance to tell a story and relate to your kids. Let them know that this “totally happened to me and I am okay!” Reassurance that they are not alone can go a long way.
2. Enlist the support of others.
My daughter’s principal might have no idea what an impact he made when he announced in front of the whole lunchroom how impressed he was with her healthy lunchbox. OH. MY. GOODNESS. She was beaming for days! This was HUGE! If kids were saying anything, positive or negative, about her lunch that week, she couldn’t have cared less. The PRINCIPAL LIKED HER LUNCH, which as it turns out, was way more important.
So go ahead and ask others to throw a little support your kid’s way. A teacher, a coach, an aunt, a cousin… anyone. Ask them to give your child a bit of recognition for their healthy food choices. One small word can go such a long way as far as your little one is concerned.
3. Let them break the rules
Although I pack my children’s lunch everyday and I have my own personal standards for what they can and can not eat on a regular basis, I let them break the rules once in a while. They participate in school birthday celebrations, holiday parties and other special occasions. They get to indulge in pizza, a cupcake or some other treat and they love it. They know they are breaking the rules and it feels great. (Don’t deny it, you break the rules sometimes too and yes, it is fantastic.) My kids know that cupcakes for so-and-so’s birthday celebration is okay because it is a “once in a while thing” and cupcakes “once in a while” is okay with me.Decide where you draw the line and make it an open conversation BUT don’t forget that breaking the rules can also be empowering and help teach them the importance of really enjoying and savoring these occasional treats. It makes the times you do allow them, that much more delicious!
4. Remind them everyday that they are PERFECT.
I have to admit that I do feel sort of powerless once I drop the little ones on the doorstep of the school building. I don’t like thinking that whatever happens from that point on is completely out of my control.
And in a very real way, it is not.
We, as moms, parents, caregivers should be sending our little humans out into the world with as much confidence as we can possibly instill in them. Every chance I get to tell my kids how awesome they are, I do it. So when they have a lunchbox, or an outfit, or a point of view that makes them stand out, they can rock it with their beautiful and perfect heads held high. That is what it is all about, right?
Have you experienced this before? If so, comment below and tell me how you deal with it? What’s worked best for you and your kids?
Michelle Obermeier is a busy mom of three, as well as a Certified Holistic Health Coach and the owner of Essential Balance Health Coaching. She studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is Board Certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. In addition to giving workshops and lectures, she works with clients to lose weight, have more energy and implement a healthier lifestyle in their household, by giving them new tools and support to reach their goals.
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