August 14, 2019


Dear teacher, I need to tell you something important about me…

Dear Teacher,

I love being in your class. I love learning and I have lots of fun everyday with you and my friends but I need to tell you something important about me. This is about my lunch box, the food I bring to school and how I eat each day.

Please don’t assume…
– that because I have a larger body and I’m shovelling food into my mouth that I’m a glutton; I just want to go outside and play.

– just because I have ‘lots’ of packaged foods and that I eat in a way that seems ‘unhealthy’ to you, doesn’t mean my parents don’t care or love me. This might be their way of showing me their love.

– that because I eat lots of processed foods that my parents are neglectful, maybe they don’t know how to cook or it’s all they know. They may be having a tough time in life at the moment and not able to afford better food.

– that because I have a very limited number of foods in my lunch box each day that my parents are lazy; little did you know that I had a tongue tie and this has affected my ability to chew and my feeding development.

Please don’t…
– tell me that I need to eat everything in my lunch box; my body is pretty good at telling me when I’m full and my tummy hurts when I eat too much.

– make me eat the ‘healthy food’ first; my parents have given me a choice of food for a reason and I can decide what to eat and how much.

– judge the fact that I eat lots of white or bland looking foods, this is all I will eat and my parents are doing their best to introduce new foods but I reject them.
– teach me that some foods are bad and some foods are good; I get really confused and think that I’ll get sick if I eat all those bad foods.

– teach me that sugar is bad; I don’t understand how something can be so bad when it tastes so good. How can I be such a bad person if I eat some lollies, cake or chocolate?

– take my food away or throw it out because it doesn’t comply with the school healthy eating policy. Have you ever thought that your policy may be flawed and more harmful than helpful? I feel it’s more important that we learn more about how ALL FOODS can be ENJOYED as part of a HEALTHY BALANCED DIET.

– send notes home to my parents about the contents of my lunch box. Do you realise that my parents may not be incharge of packing my lunch box? This is my job. These notes can create fear in me eating certain kinds of foods and lead to catastrophic thinking as well as a poor relationship with food long term.

– reward me with food for doing something good in my learning. This makes me eat when I’m not hungry. Did you know that this can lead to me forming a habit of rewarding myself with food later in life, with my body misunderstanding an emotional connection with food and actual hunger?

– teach me that eating too much food causes obesity and fatness. It makes me feel sad when people talk about body shapes and sizes that are inheritable. All bodies are good bodies.

– teach me about calories and that the food I eat needs to be burnt off. I eat food for nourishment, enjoyment, satisfaction and survival. My body is not a bomb calorimeter, it’s a living thing that is making new cells to help me grow and learn.

– teach me to love food by helping me learn about it in a non-judgemental way.

– help me to learn about my senses and how I can use them to learn more about food.

– show me where food comes from.

– keep my learning experiences about food neutral yet positive. Talk to me about food in a matter of fact way without labelling it good, bad, healthy and unhealthy. These labels are hard to understand.

– teach me to love my body and what it can do.

– teach me that all bodies are special and they are made to work in their own way and move in a way that feels good.

Thank you for reading my letter. The more that we talk about this, the more we will learn to appreciate that health and food literacy needs to be addressed in a sensitive and supportive way.

A student who loves food.

This post originally appeared on Embracing Nutrition and has been shared with full permission

Kelly is passionate about changing people’s thinking about healthy eating and healthy relationships with food.

Kelly also recently shared a blog on lunchbox shaming saying, “As someone who has studied child development and now childhood nutrition, I implore a pull back on the approach of lunchbox policing and to reconsider the purpose of such policies.”

Read more – This Teacher Has Had Enough of the Lunch Box Shaming!

Share your comments below.

Kelly is a primary teacher and nutritionist, based in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne. She blogs at Embracing Nutrition. Or you can find her on Facebook.

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  • I really do think that as long as a child has food thats all that matters. Teachers should not be judging


  • Golden perspective!!


  • I can support an interest for nutrition but really it is the family’s responsibility, and also some comments can be inadvertently made without knowledge of circumstances and culture.


  • I never thought I would see the day where teachers are required to inspect children’s lunchboxes. I wonder if they struggle with it as much as we do?


  • I can’t love this enough. I totally agree that our kids need to have a healthy relationship with food, and shaming them for something that they have little to no control over is so damaging. As a parent, it’s up to me what I feed my child, not up to the teacher.


  • I am so lucky that my boys school did not judge or limit lunch box choices (other than allergies of course).


  • I’m so thankful that my school are not lunchbox police, the thing I’m not so happy about is not having access to their food and it being strictly by time. I struggle to make sure every kid is fed and if one is refusing I feel like I need to force my child to eat before they eat at 11am. Id love to see schools be more compassionate as my kids aren’t breakfast kids but not eat in until 11 is too rough too.


  • I get the idea that they are trying to teach the children but I think there should be a way it could be done without singling our people


  • I understand the reasons behind it, but I so do not agree with teachers judging and searching and confiscating “unhealthy foods” from kids lunchboxes


  • Great post. Let’s not forget there are many children who regularly come to school with NO lunch at all. I have seen it first hand and how heartbreaking. Imagine being that student watching your peers eat at recess and lunch and you don’t have anything. Yes this is Australia, let’s not forget poverty exists here too. Some wonderful points made in the article.


  • I don’t think schools should dictate what kids eat. That is the families decision.


  • Great article! I am horrified by the power schools think they weild over kids these days. I get that obesity is becoming a huge problem, but a kids lunchbox isn’t the issue. My kids had packaged food, along with fruit and yoghurt and sandwiches and salads etc. When they got home, they had a healthy tea and a healthy breakfast before going to school. Yet I’m sure if they went to school now with a lunchbox packed how I used to pack them, items would be removed and notes sent home


  • Loved reading this article and it really was food for thought.


  • I believe we just need better education around balanced diets. For parents and students.


  • Just have a balanced eating way


  • Number 1 tip: Communicate with your schools teachers – they will be so appreciative and you will have an amazing relationship with them in support of your child’s education.


  • Not good to judge people by what they pack in the lunch box but understand the need to keep a check on those that have ridiculously unhealthy choices.


  • I see both sides. I know that my homemade cupcakes have healthy substitutions, but the teacher doesn’t. At the same time, some kids turn up with half an old Happy Meal. That really does cross a line if it happens regularly – kids need nutrition to learn. But there is a right way and a wrong way to tactfully have a conversation with a parent.


  • Love this! Some teachers are parents too. What will they feel if other teachers do the same to their kids.


  • I absolutely love this! It needs to be sent to every school


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