This weeks guest blog is written by Collen Colletti and addresses school lunch. Colletti is a mom, teacher, writer and equestrian. She describes herself by the contents of her purse: “In the contents of my purse you would most likely find the normal necessities, with a few exceptions. First there is my USB stick filled with lesson plans to teach my students. I love the feeling I get when I see a child’s mind exploring and learning. Next one may come across a pair of spurs, I have spent countless hours at the barn with my horses. Riding is both competitive and therapeutic for me. If you dig a little deeper, there is a small writers leather bound journal that goes with me every where. It is constantly capturing my story ideas. Lastly, a package of Barbie bandages for my girls, the most rewarding job I have ever had. They bring more joy to my life then I ever could have imagined!”
Fluffer Nutters vs. the Apple… which one really wins??? by Colleen Colletti
“Ring, “my alarm clock yells, indicating that Monday morning has arrived and the usual craziness of getting my husband, two children, and I ready and out the door for the day begins! Each morning I select a delicious energy filled lunch for my children, drop off at school and wish them a splendid day.
I arrive at work, a middle school classroom. Throughout my teaching career, I have watched as many of my students arrive to school sluggish. At lunch I see those same students enjoying a processed filled lunch, or trading aspects their nutritious meal for a bag of chips. The problem is simple, you send your child to school with a healthy balanced lunch and instead of eating it, it is traded for a sugar or additives overload. Not only does an unhealthy diet affect your child’s energy, it also may have health implications later in life. Yet how do we get our children to eat the lunch we send them? In kids eyes how does healthy food compete with what other students bring into the lunch room. Are we really reaching our kids or do the Fluffer Nutters win out?
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So how does one fight against the endless sea of fast food restaurants, bakeries, treats brought into the classroom, and the food exchange at lunch. In my household, we believe in providing a variety of food choices. My husband and I feel that banning certain foods simply makes the child want it more. Instead we allow our children to enjoy goodies, but provide healthy alternatives to the processed foods. For instance, instead of store bought chocolate chips, we offer cookies with all natural ingredients and dark chocolate instead of milk. Another big hit in our home are the fresh fruit ice pops. I liquefy strawberries, pour them into a kid friendly mold, and add a few strawberry or raspberry chunks and freeze over night. In the morning, they always love to have a fresh ice pop, and I don’t mind giving it to them, because it is all natural. An added bonus to these sweets is that it fosters quality time with my children. They love to put the cookie dough on the tray or berries in a bowl. I agree that between little league, ballet, or any other after school activities, it is much easier to simply buy pre-made treats, but are we really helping our kids? So in reality, how do I find the time to bake or cook? The answer is simple… make extra! I don’t bake or cook like my mother, whom every time you walked in the house the aroma of fresh goodies filled the air. Instead, I create fresh meals every few nights allowing for healthy leftovers. In terms of snacks, every few weeks I enjoy a Sunday afternoon with my children baking. Half our delicious snacks, I place into a jar and the other half go in the freezer. My children have become accustomed to natural fresh ingredients and in many cases shy away from the lack of quality and taste that processed foods offer. As a result, this method has helped expand my children’s taste buds in a way that is fun and healthy for them.
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What about those of you with a younger or older clientele? Daycare or nanny is prevalent even more today with a two household income. These environments are wonderful both socially and academically, except children are also exposed to sickness at a younger age. A wholesome diet, aides a healthy immune system cultivating their emotional, cognitive, and developmental skills. Some may say that the little ones are much easier to feed then the big ones. So how do we reach those opinionated teens? My experience with the young adult age group reaffirms what I do at home. Teenagers who have enjoyed fresh fruits, vegetables, essentially an all natural diet since they were little, continue those habits through their adolescent years. They are active members of the classroom throughout the entire day. No late afternoon sugar crashing! While, the students who have grown up on macaroni n’ cheese or Ramen noodles, will pack just that for themselves when they are in charge of their lunch. I always cringe when I see a growing child diving into a fast food lunch and diet coke on a daily basis. How do they have the energy required of them to study, play sports, and become active participants in their educational career?
In conclusion, as long as we teach our children to make the right choices, healthy choices… we are one step closer to winning the battle!