Whether it’s at the start of your child’s school career or something that seems to have cropped up out of the blue, it can be very disconcerting when your child comes home with a full or partially full lunch bag on a consistent basis. You worry that he’s not getting the proper nutrition and that missing a meal will impact not only his growth, but his ability to focus and learn. You’re also frustrated by having to throw uneaten food in the garbage every week.
If reminding your child every morning to be sure to eat at school just isn’t doing the trick, here are some other tips that may make that bagged lunch more appealing:
- Allow your child to pick his own lunch from among a group of healthy options at the supermarket. Then, have him help you assemble the lunch the night before. Having more of a hand in his own lunch may make him more likely to eat it.
- While preparing lunch, help your child to make it more visually appealing – cut sandwiches into fun shapes, cut up veggies to make a face, etc.
- Limit the junk food in your child’s diet while at home. If he’s used to snacking on cookies at home, chances are he won’t be interested in his snack of carrot sticks in his school lunch.
- At the next PTA meeting, ask about whether the kids can be given time to run around before or after sitting down to eat. If there isn’t a designated time to eat during recess, some kids will choose playing every time.
- Explain that eating lunch will give him more energy to play and will make him feel better. Some kids just aren’t aware of the connection between that tired and sick feeling they get at the end of the day and choosing not to eat lunch.
- Pack foods for lunch that are easy and quick to access. When a container requires a lot of tugging or help from a teacher to open, your child may just decide to go play instead.
In the end, you can’t force your child to eat while he’s at school. It will one day dawn on him that eating makes him feel better. Until then, you can try what my mom did: hand over the uneaten lunch when he asks for a snack when he gets home. If the lunch seemed unappealing at school, it will be even more so a few hours later. Might as well eat it while it’s fresh!
Sources: fisher-price.com and thefeedingdoctor.com