"Why can't I have a juice box or cookies in my lunch like all the other kids?" my daughter, Gillian, whined.
My son, Isaac, now in the third grade, is used to my no-nonsense, nutrient-dense lunches and rarely complains anymore. On that particular day, he backed me up on the lunch debate, albeit with a surprising rebuttal. "You can't have a juice box because they're bad for your brain, because it's just sugar and water. Mr. L. said so," Isaac said, a little too haughtily for my liking.
Read more: Fear mongering and the anti-sugar obsession>
"Wait a minute...sugar isn't bad for your brain," I responded. "Your brain and your body need sugar to work. My problem with juice boxes is that I know you'll drink them all and not have room for food." I try to hide the my frustration at the fact that the school is trying to teach my kids (inaccurate) nutrition lessons.
Forget stroller wars...lunches are the new battleground. And it makes me wonder if packing a child's lunch for school was this difficult before the days of Pinterest?
Reminiscing recently with a friend, we realized we ate the same brown-bagged lunch growing up—a frozen juice box, a mac and cheese loaf (or PB&J) on white bread, a Wagon Wheel and a red apple. Invariably, the juice box thawed and tore the paper bag, the sandwich was crushed and soggy and the apple bruised and inedible. The only item in our lunches that survived was the Wagon Wheel.
Read more: Bento box lunch ideas your kids will love>
There were no bento boxes in my day: Lunches from my childhood were utilitarian and definitely not Instagram-worthy. I remember hating school lunches, but I also remember not having a choice in what was in them since our family lived on a very limited budget. It's clear to me that there's been a major shift in the last 30 years as to how we feed our kids, and while awareness of the benefits of healthier and less processed food is positive, the shaming and the guilt parents seem to pile on themselves for packing a less-than-perfect lunch isn't healthy at all.
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