Mum hits back at school over “healthy lunch” cards.
Natalie Thompson, a mother and practicing dietitian in Queensland, was disappointed when her sons school decided to slip a ‘We love your healthy lunch’ card in his bag.
The school sent a letter home to the parents explaining when and how each student could eat their ‘unhealthy’ snacks and what kind of food is appropriate.
Ms Thompson wrote a letter back, asking why ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terms were being applied to school lunchboxes.
‘On the second day of school my son received a card stating “We love your healthy lunch”. I also noted in a newsletter that “Only healthy food is allowed to be eaten at 1st lunch break. Treats and left-over food can be eaten at 2nd lunch break,”‘ she wrote on her website Delectable Dietetics.
‘Judging food as “healthy” and “treats” is assigning morality to food, which is a typical dieting behaviour leading people to feel a sense of fear, guilt and shame, particularly around their weight, body shape or body size. These feelings can result in individuals valuing themselves in response to what they have in their lunch box and what they have eaten.
‘Personally, my son was proud to receive the “We love your healthy lunch” card in his lunch box and naturally viewed his peers as less superior for not receiving a card. He now views foods as “healthy” and “unhealthy” and is fixated on receiving another card. As a concerned dietitian and mother, I am now working to repair the damage this school nutrition guideline has caused my son and our family. I am particularly concerned that if the next round of cards are given out and my son does not receive a card he will become distressed.’
Instead, allow children to make food choices based on their appetite. Children should be given the choice of ‘how much’ to eat and ‘whether’ they eat. Parents and carers are responsible for ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ the family eats. Read the full letter in the blog post, Dietitian Mum Breaking School Rules When It Comes to Food at https://wp.me/p6LHEX-1cz
Ms Thompson felt as though the card system being employed was a way of teaching parents about nutrition through their child – and was in no way ‘empowering’ families.
‘Feeding a child is complex and some parent struggle with providing a variety of food. Food shaming or shaming behaviour does not change behaviour,’ she said.
As a result, the school immediately stopped using the cards and spoke openly about Ms Thompson possibly featuring in their newsletter with her own nutritional advice.
We have previously shared Kelly Fullerton’s thoughts on lunch box shaming. The primary teacher and nutritionist based in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne. Recently shared a blog on this very matter – “Mind Your Own Lunch Box.”
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