Guilty of Not So Healthy School Lunches #happilyblended

The kids started the school year off fabulous, with school lunches that is. I used to let my oldest eat the hot lunch at school but she started to put on a lot of weight and so as an experiment, I started packing her a home made lunch. Sadly, her Dad wasn’t on board with me on that area so she still had and still has on occasion hot lunch when she’s at her Dad’s overnight during school year. This means my experiment really wasn’t tested out 100%, but it was tested enough so that I noticed a significant weight decrease in my daughter while she wasn’t having school night sleep overs at her Dad’s home. You see, school lunches are great for families who need to use them or prefer to use them, but for my family all the hot lunch at school did was make my daughter gain weight.

Hot Lunch vs Cold Lunch for Schools

When you are in a family with a pain in the butt metabolism that isn’t so quick, you have to be sure to watch what you eat. Being a Mom, I want to try my best to set good examples by eating better choices and preparing better choices for my children during all meal times. It all started out with my kids having wonderful options in their school lunches, this school year is the first year my three children are all in school full time which means all three have home made cold lunch from their Mama to bring to school.

Kid Number One and Kid Number Two are not so picky eaters. The lunches for the oldest and middle child are usually some form of peppers with a sandwich of some sort and crackers or occasionally some cheese curls or chips alongside a carpi sun roaring water. While all options my children have may not be healthy; they also switch between having chips or such with pineapple, apples or bananas. Always a healthier option with a balance. I believe in allowing your kids “goodies” but keeping a balance between goodies and healthy. Kid one and Kid two are easy to balance out.

It’s kid Number Three …. he is the world’s pickiest eater and most stubborn. He once went five nights without eating dinner because he was convinced he didn’t like what I was cooking & my rule is you have to try it or go without, he wouldn’t try it and was just fine going without .. FOR FIVE WHOLE NIGHTS.

Kid Number Three has a different setup for lunch; I have found he does like pineapples and he loves mandarin style oranges. This son also only likes peanut butter and jelly for sandwiches but lately I have been sneaking in honey and peanut butter {because he loves honey for nearly every dipping food he eats}.

Lately, I have been failing miserable with a healthy balanced school lunch for all three of my kids. With two weeks of not working, so essentially living on one income in the house it was draining us and things are falling behind a bit. That means my kids lunches have not been as healthy as they started off, but I still feel they are not allowing them to gain the weight like my daughter had gained that one school year she had hot lunch at school.

Do I feel like a horrible Mom? Not really. I do feel bad because the whole point to making my kids lunches is so that they have healthier options and I cannot afford them at the moment.

Why does eating healthier have to cost more?? It’s absurd. I can’t wait til Spring when we can start our first home garden!


The Picky eater and The Not So Picky Eaters

It always amazes me just how different my three children can be, it’s oh so obvious at dinner time. My youngest is the pickiest eater alive and for the first four years of his life he would occasionally try new foods while other times he would go 4-5 nights without diner because he was that stubborn to even try dinner. My older two kids always impress me, it makes me proud at how they handle the food situations.

Chili Home madeYou see, sometimes we are broke so all we have for food is pasta, sauce and maybe a veggie of some sort. There was one time we had egg noodles and peas for dinner, because that is all we had to eat. There are other times where ramon noodles are our only option for dinner or a sandwich. If we go long periods like that, I feel like I am failing, but short term it doesn’t bother me so much. I was a single Mom for the first few years of my daughter’s life so I was used to having little to no food at times. My daughter was used to it as well. Even while the boys were growing up we would go without great food options due to low funds.

I feel that the two older kids are better at saying “I don’t really care for this but I will eat it” because they have lived longer, are more mature than the little guy and that they realize Mom does her best to provide, which means sometimes I offer all I can offer. Nothing makes me more proud than when I hear my older two kids tell me it’s okay I will eat this food, even though I don’t really care for it. This shows me that I have taught my older two kids to be thankful for what they do have and that they do have something. I often remind my kids that there are families who literally have no food, so for us to have any food is something to cherish.

I am still at a loss as to how to get my youngest to try more foods and eat more nutritiously like the rest of us usually do. My youngest is extremely high strung, the pediatrician said ADHD but I feel ADHD is a diagnosis that is tossed out too freely. While I agree, my youngest appears to be ADHD more often than not, he usually can go grocery shopping, go to the library events and even attend school just fine, to me that isn’t ADHD.  His Dad and I are in agreement that we refuse to medicate our youngest unless his hyperactivity makes it impossible for him to function in society as expected. To us, he is a normal five year old and while the pediatrician says ADHD he also said that the youngest is a normal five year old boy.

One way I can think of to get this picky eater more nutrition is to make smoothies and sneak same color veggies into foods he will eat. The pediatrician agreed that is probably the best way to deal with this picky eater for now, because while he can prescribe vitamins, they wouldn’t be as great for his body as getting those nutrients in variety of foods would.

So … as school is in session for all three children I am working more and gearing up to ensure we don’t have to go long periods without food, leaving me with more options to sneak in those healthy things my youngest needs.

What are some ways you have snuck good foods into your child’s diet?

Family Dinners: Reclaiming a Lost Tradition

Despite the constant innovations in modern kitchen appliances making it quicker and easier to cook, the modern family now spends less and less time eating in. In fact, whilst in in 1900, 2% of meals were eaten outside the home, in 2010 that figure had risen to 50%.

In part, this can be put down to the fact that in an increasing number of families, all parents are working full time. That, coupled with the sheer number of convenient alternatives to the home-cooked meal on the market these days mean that family meals occur about three times a week on average, commonly last for less than 20 minutes and are generally spent in front of the television.

So, is this the end for the humble domestic meal, or is it worth hanging on to this age-old tradition?

Health Benefits

A home-cooked meal is, in general, healthier than the convenient alternatives that adorn the shelves at the local supermarket.

Obesity in the UK is becoming an increasing problem for the UK, with diet-related diseases now two of the top five causes of premature death for people under 60 years old.

Even high-quality processed meals have been found to contain high levels of salt and sometimes harmful additives.

And whilst home-cooked food contains less nutritional nasties, families will usually find that cooking from scratch using natural ingredients is also cheaper than buying good-quality convenience foods.

Children’s Behaviour

For children in America, eating a family meal has been found to help them achieve better grades at school, as well as steer clear of substance abuse into their teenage years. In fact, in the US, teens who ate fewer family dinners (3 or less per week) were:

  • Over three times more likely to abuse prescription drugs
  • Over three times more likely to use illegal drugs other than marijuana or prescription drugs
  • Three times more likely to use marijuana
  • More than twice as likely to use tobacco
  • Over twice as likely to use alcohol

General Contentment

The more family meals children enjoy per week, the happier they are. Studies have shown that the general health and wellbeing of children who regularly eat family meals is greater than those who don’t, and that doing so provides parents with an opportunity to teach their children appropriate and effective communication skills, manners, nutrition, and good eating habits for later in life.

What with swimming lessons, sports clubs, Brownies and Cubs, it’s not always convenient to take the time out to eat as a family every night. However, it is a good idea to take time at least once or twice a week to enjoy each other’s company as a family.  Sitting around the dining table to eat wholesome, healthy meals with your children is a positive for everyone.

This article was written by Laura Moulden on behalf of AHF, the carpets and furniture specialists.

Healthy Fuel for your Kids Snacks or Cold Lunches

The debate, or rather she hoped it was a debate, started when I told my daughter she would be having cold lunches this year with the option of hot lunch from the school only once per week. There was no real debate because even though the kids know how to vote, the rule is I am boss and while I take in their opinions, I do have the final ruling or decision to make.

I recently tested out Dole Real Fruit Bites and they were so delicious and nutritious, which means the kids will surely have some of those during school snack and lunch time this year! The reason for my love of Dole Real Fruit Bites is that they combine my favorites together fruit, yogurt and whole grain oats for a real tasty treat! With most packs being 90 calories, they are not only delicious but nutritious!

A recent study showed that 73% of parents (Wakefield Research for Dole Real Fruit Bites) snack on their kids snacks, why? Because it’s quick and easy. Think about soccer nights? I Know those are the nights I would be more likely to grab a bite of my kids treats without a second thought because they are crazy busy evenings!

Here are some lunch packing ideas for your cold lunch kids that are quick, easy and nutritious -

  • Add instant rice to leftover chicken or transform leftover steak into a hearty chili
  • Cut sandwiches into different shapes with cookie cutters, or write a note on a napkin
  • Dole Real Fruit Bites are made from real dried fruit, coated with yogurt and sprinkled with toasted whole grain oats – Kids won’t be trading this snack
  • Think outside the thermos, and try freezing a yogurt cup or a juice box
  • Grab snacks for your desk drawer or purse so you can have a quick bite

What are some ways you make cold lunches and snacks easier but healthy for your kids?

Healthy Foods to Help Reduce Stress

With the economy the way it is and parents trying to work to put food on the table for kids it’s inevitable that stress in everyday life may be on a rise. Here are some great food ideas that you can eat more of to help reduce stress:

  • Fruits and vegetables with vitamin A & C, along with foliate, are best to help reduce stress; such examples of these are oranges and papaya. These particular fruits will hep repair cell damage and increase your energy.
  • Vitamin B Foods such as clams and lentils will help calm your body which can decrease anxiety.
  • Sunflower Seeds contain Vitamin E which are known to help enhance mood.

Some of the foods you should consume less of, if at all, while under high amounts of stress are; caffeinated beverages, trans fatty foods, sugar and alcohol. Each of these “no no” foods are know to decrease energy and some can increase anxiety all of which are no good when you are under stress.

What types of foods have helped decrease your stress level?


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