No one understands what it feels like to be judged more than a mother. It seems mom can’t do anything without being judged for it, there is just no way to please everyone in this world. School lunches have become quite the hot topic lately, as more and more parents and schools are starting to judge parents on what they send their kids to school with.
A lot of schools have started sending out lists of what is considered an appropriate snack for the child to bring. Some say they are going too far, and that they have no right policing what the children are eating. That it is the parent’s choice. However, we can understand where they are coming from and it is with the best intentions.
Parents are busy, with both usually having to work jobs in order to support their families. This means that they spend less time on making snacks for their children to take to school.
There are some common snacks that were staples in a lunchbox back even just 10 years ago. These snacks that were once acceptable are now being turned away.
25 Anything Peanut Related
This first one is not really a big surprise, because of the influx in allergies. Let’s do some math, I am 33 years old and I remember when I was in elementary school, I was allowed to bring peanut butter sandwiches and snacks to school. It wasn’t long until that was not allowed. Most, if not all, schools have a no peanut rule.
There are too many students to monitor for teachers, and they can’t be there to make sure a child who is allergic doesn’t accidentally eat a friend’s snack that contains peanuts. Therefore, no snacks or food items that contain any traces of peanuts or nuts are allowed on the school property. This is one of the few that most parents understand and are fine to go along with.
24 Fruit Snacks
Fruit snacks are a go-to for a lot of parents to throw in their kid’s lunch. They are easy and the packages state that the item contains real fruit juices, so it leads parents to believe that this item is relatively healthy. A bonus is that it appeals to young children because of its close appearance to a gummy candy.
This is one of the worst snacks parents can give their children. A paediatrician stated that giving your child a fruit snack is equivalent to giving them a tiny bag of sugar and telling them to eat it. Fruit snacks may contain some elements of actual fruit, but they are mostly just sugar, plain and simple.
When I was in school, lunchables were a treat and we were so excited when these little guys showed up in our lunch bags. Again, they are appealing because they are quick and easy. All mom has to do is buy it, and hand it over for lunch. There is no preparation involved.
These items are also not the healthiest options and are better left on the store shelf. A healthier option is to make your own using whole wheat and low-fat products. It will take a bit more time, but it will be much healthier for your child.
22 Energy Bars
Even though it appears like our children have boundless amounts of energy, they do need to get a boost every now and then. School can be a long day for anyone, so it is understandable that we want to pack their lunches with snacks that will provide them this energy to get through the day. Mom may want to reach for an energy bar, because it is quick, easy and energy is right there in the title.
Energy bars are not the greatest source of energy for your child, despite what the name entails. These bars are mostly sugar, with a touch of protein in them. The best way to figure out if something is good for your child is to read the label. A lot of people neglect to read the actual ingredients and content in the food we eat, so they miss this information.
21 “Kid” Yogurt
Marketing is going to be a big theme for this article, because they know how to make a product look appealing to mom and her child. If mom walks down the dairy aisle in the grocery store, she won’t be able to help but notice all the yogurts that are geared for children. They will be packaged in something bright, with a familiar character or two, and they are available in a lot of sweet flavours.
However, they are also jam-packed with artificial dyes and sugar, more than any child needs. A healthier alternative is to pack a container with some Greek yogurt and add your own fresh fruit to the top. You can always get your child involved and have them personally select which fruit they would like.
Muffins seem like a perfectly wholesome snack, and we can’t believe they are on this page. It always seems like the healthiest option at a coffee place is to go for a muffin instead of a donut. Well, it turns out you might as well eat the donut, because the two are not very different.
Muffins are full of sugar, oil and bleached white flour which are all empty calories. Sure, there may be some fruit like blueberries hidden in there, but no fruit is that healthy when it is covered in processed sugar. A better option is to make them yourself, so you can make sure whole-grain ingredients are going in them.
19 Deli Meat Is A Big No!
Deli meat can be a great snack for children, especially if they are a picky eater and will only eat select things. However, it is not the best option to send as a snack with your kid's lunch. Any food that is preserved or processed, like a lot of the deli meat options on the shelves, is going to be full of ingredients that you cannot pronounce. The rule of thumb has always been if you can’t pronounce it, you shouldn’t be eating it.
It doesn’t mean that all deli meat is bad, turkey is always going to be one of your best choices. Just make sure it is roasted and does not contain any additives. Even slice up last night's chicken breast for a good snack full of protein.
18 Cheese Crackers
Goldfish crackers have always been a popular snack for children, because their adorable shape makes them appealing for children to eat. These snacks may not be the worst snack for your child, but they are definitely not the healthiest option either. The problem with these little fishes and other cracker snacks like them is that they are lacking fibre.
Fibre is what makes us feel full longer, and it allows us to concentrate better on tasks we are doing. If children are lacking fibre, it will make it harder for them to focus on their school day. They are also very high in sodium, which we know is never good.
17 Snack Cakes
Some of these seem obvious, and parents know that they should not feed them to their child, but they are so convenient. Our children also love these and we do want to make them happy and give them a little treat once in a while. Little Debbie may be a cute mascot, but she has some of the unhealthiest snacks out there.
Snacks like Twinkies and Cupcakes may taste really good, and make our children happy, but they are not a good snack to send with children to school. These items are heavily processed and are full of not much but a ton of sugar. Too much sugar can make it hard for children to focus and concentrate while they are finishing their school day.
16 Let’s Talk About Drinks!
Let’s go off track here for a minute and talk about what we are sending our kids to school to drink. The answer should be water. However, a lot of parents are sending their kids to school with fruit juices and even soda. Both are very bad for their health.
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found some surprising reports. They found that 50% of the added sugars in a child’s diet were coming from beverages like juice and soda. Water really is the best beverage for your child to drink, and if it is a little to bland for them try adding some sliced fruit to their water bottle to give it some natural flavour.
15 Anything With A Wrapper
It is important to teach the children of the world to care for the environment, and a lot of schools are starting now. A lot of schools are adapting to a ‘litter-less’ lunch. This means that parents cannot send their child to school with anything that needs to be thrown out. They are trying to encourage parents to make use of reusable containers and water bottles.
That is why things like bento-boxes are becoming more popular. They are reusable lunch containers that have separate slots in them for different food items and snacks. Unfortunately, there will still always be litter, but it helps cut the amount down drastically.
14 Chips Are Appealing
Chips are a well-loved snack, and one that was often given back years ago to children going to school. They would be given small, portioned bags of chips and Cheetos to enjoy as a little treat at school. Well, don’t even think about sending this to school now because it won’t be a good idea. Chips are another one that doesn’t really need much of an explanation.
Chips are made from a vegetable, but that is where any trace of nutrition stops. The potatoes are cut, fried or baked and covered in salt or other seasonings. Once a potato is fried and covered in salt, they are no longer considered a healthy food. There are many ways to make these at home that could be a much healthier alternative.
13 Leave The Cookies At Home
Nothing is more wholesome than cookies and milk. It is a favourite snack that is often enjoyed by people all over the world, not just children. However, this is a snack that should be left for when the children come home from school and not sent to school. Cookies may be delicious, but they are not the healthiest option for children.
Even if the cookies are made at home from scratch, they are still usually very high in sugar and salt. These are the main ingredients used to make cookies. If you add chocolate chips, then they have just become even less healthy.
12 Do We Have To Say Why Candy Is Bad?
This is probably the most obvious entry, but it needs to be said. With Halloween now past us, it is a good idea to mention that candy is not an appropriate snack for lunchtime at school. Chances are if you send this to your kid for a school snack, you may get a letter home from the school. Even though it is obvious, we are going to mention that candy is full of sugar.
If you have ever been around a child who has had too much sugar, then you know how hard it can be to get them to settle down. If a child eats too much sugar at lunch time, then they are going to be hard for the teachers to get to settle.
11 Applesauce Is A Hidden Woe
The last few entries have been a bit straight-forward and obvious, but this one may come as a surprise. Apple sauce is not a healthy snack, or at least the apple sauce you can buy already made and packaged. Apple sauce may be low in calories, each container having only about 100 calories, but 88% of those calories are coming from sugar.
It is a much better alternative for mom to make her own apple sauce at home. She can control how much sugar is going in them. She can also place it in reusable containers, so she is cutting down on waste at the same time.
10 Cereal Is A Snack Too
I am part of the club that thinks that cereal is not just for breakfast. Cereal is great at any part of the day, as lunch, dinner or a great snack. Parents used to send dry cereal with their children to school in little baggies and would call it a day. This is not always the best option. Most cereals that children like, and will actually eat, are full of sugar.
They are considered empty calories because they do not contain much of anything that is actually nutritional. A better alternative is to read labels and find a cereal that is whole-grain versus one that has a lot of sugar in it. The only downside is your child may not eat it.
9 100-Cal Snack Packs
These ones are a little tricky, because they are designed to make people and moms believe that they are healthy. They are little snack packs that claim to be only 100 calories, which means your child can enjoy treats like Oreo’s and chocolate chip cookies in a properly portioned package.
The problem is that even though you are only eating 100 calories, they are still empty calories that are found in a food classified as junk. It is much better for children to have 100 calories of a healthy snack that is going to provide them some nutritional benefits, like cheese or Greek yogurt with fruit.
8 Popcorn Can Be A Hazard
This one is not so much about health than it is about safety. Popcorn can be a very healthy snack when it is not covered with butter or processed product. However, it can be a choking risk. Schools are very busy places, and sometimes the teachers watching lunch period cannot give full attention to every student. This means they could possibly miss a choking event.
Children also love to share snacks, and there is nothing stopping them from sharing popcorn with another student. This student may have dietary needs that prevent him from eating anything that is a choking risk. Sometimes it is about a lot more than ingredient lists.
7 Pudding Cups
Pudding cups used to be a staple in every child’s diet. Everyone looked forward to opening their lunch bag and seeing a pudding cup sitting there for them. They were also a hot commodity and students would often try and get a classmate to trade with them. Bartering at lunch should be considered a separate subject.
Pudding cups can also be deceiving because of marketing. They claim that there is a lot of milk in these cups, and milk is great! However, the milk is also there with a lot of sugar. It would be much better for a child to have a glass of milk instead of a pudding cup.
6 Veggie Puffs
This is probably the biggest marketing scam out there when it comes to healthy food. These Veggie straws seem like the perfect snack. They taste and crunch like a chip, but they are made with vegetables. Sounds like every parent’s dream come true. These are another snack that is deceiving and is not good in a child’s lunch.
If you read the ingredients, these are mostly made up of refined grains. The first three ingredients are usually corn flour, soy flour and rice. Not much nutrition, or vegetables, there. These may be a great alternative to your traditional chips, they should not be mistaken for a healthy snack.
5 Granola Bars … Is Anything Safe?
We may be starting to wonder what we are allowed to pack in our kids’ lunches, because all of the popular options seem to be a no-go. Even granola bars are not safe. Granola bars have been packed in lunches for years now, but it turns out they are not the healthiest snack for children either.
A typical granola bar can contain up to a tablespoon or more of sugar. They fool parents by saying there is fruit in them, but that is usually fruit juices which just contain more sugar. A great alternative for this is to make your own trail mix and include healthier oats and granola.
4 Graham Crackers
Graham crackers are not just for making smores, they can be a tasty treat to place in your child’s lunch, but they are not the healthiest of crackers and should be skipped. They are appealing because they are easy for young children to chew, they are not so hard. However, on closer inspection of the ingredient list, they are offering little else.
There is very little of substance in these crackers, and they completely lack fibre. A better alternative is to choose some whole-wheat crackers and send some cheese for lunch. This way your child will get some fiber, as well as calcium in one serving.
Nutella is a sneaky snack, and they sell it in convenient little packages with breadsticks for dipping. Because of its chocolatey taste, it appeals to children. Mom can be a bit relieved when she sees that it states it is a great source of calcium. Mom has been fooled again.
Nutella is bad for two reasons. It may contain some calcium, but it also contains a lot of artificial sugar. Sugar is not a complete enemy here, but children should be eating natural sugars. The second reason it is a bad snack choice is because it is a nut product. There are hazelnuts in it, and therefore, it should never be sent to school.
2 Dried Fruit Straps
Here is another sneaky snack that is making its way into lunchboxes all over. Fruit straps, or fruit leathers as they are sometimes called, can make mom feel confident. Sometimes, our children do not want to eat healthy, so mom needs to try and hide it in a snack that seems more like a treat, and fruits traps do that job.
If mom makes her own fruit straps, then they can be a very healthy option because mom controls the amount of sugar in them. They are also a lot easier to make than they appear. The packaged kind bought at the store contain a high amount of sugar, more than what is naturally found in the fruit.
1 Skip The Chocolate Milk
Chocolate milk is one of the preferred beverage choices for children, but it’s not really OK to send this with your kid to school. The first reason would be that milk needs to stay cold in order to be good, so unless mom has a great thermos for her kid, that milk is not going to be so good come lunchtime.
Once you make a milk chocolate, you are adding in artificial flavours which means a lot of sugar. Chocolate milk may be perfectly fine once in a while as a treat, but it should stay at home and not be sent to school with your child.
References: activekids.com, foodnetwork.com, healthymummy.com