We're deep into first term in the southern hemisphere and lunchboxes are once again a daily challenge.
I know that the boomerang box is an ever present nightmare for many parents.
For others it's the cringe over contents.
Whatever the challenge there are some actions we can take that support better eating at school/Kindy:
1. The more familiar a food is, the more likely it will get eaten. The lunchbox is not the best place for learning. If we do this at home first we can then gradually change what's happening away from us.
2. Looking to tick boxes for our child in terms of temperature, texture and taste. Often small changes can be a make or break.
3. Making foods manageable in terms of accessibility and size. Easy to open pots or packages mean our child can manage solo. Small offerings are less overwhelming than larger items eg. a mini muffin v a regular sized one.
4. Presentation is important (oh how well do we know this if we have a picky eater??!). We do eat with our eyes first, so without creating a Bento magical world, making sure the food looks appetizing is important.
5. Offering choices empowers our child and helps get them on board. We can maintain control whilst still giving some autonomy over what goes into the lunch.
6. The more relaxed we are, the more likely we are to eat. Anything that gets us anxious, angry or upset will impact on eating. How can we manage some of the situations that may impact on our child's comfort?
7. Time limits for lunch and needing to eat before play can put a lot of pressure on our child. This may not be something we can control but knowing it can be a factor may enable us to help manage it.
8. Having rules around what must be eaten first can also result in certain foods becoming more challenging to consume. This may be something we can discuss with caregivers/teachers.
9. Being mindful of how our emphasis can affect our child. The way we inventory the returning lunchbox can change the dynamic from "success" or "failure" to "let's see what extra is needed for tomorrow". The lunchbox should never be a test that is passed or failed.
10. Knowing what is happening whilst our child is away from home in regards to food is critically important. What do they eat from shared food options? Are there noises, smells or peer/teacher interventions that make things challenging? Do they feel uncomfortable eating in front of others? Are they too busy playing to eat?
Having open lines of communication can give us surprising insight into what's happening and potentially give us ideas as to how to better support our child to eat well away from home.
Judith is passionate about good food and is even more passionate about enabling other people to enjoy the wide variety of fresh food available today.