My Lunchbox Sacrifices

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Sacrifice : the act of giving up something that you want to keep, especially in order to get or do something else, or to help someone.

Many times what you get is much smaller than what you sacrifice. At first sight at least. I learned quite a bit about sacrifices after I had kids because all of a sudden it’s all about those little persons in your life. While at first it was mostly sleep, later on you start giving up your TV shows, your late dinners (not necessarily a bad thing), a good chunk of your social life, your weekends, your breakable things, expensive things, sharp things… in order to make life safer for your little one. You baby-proof your house. I remember we added the little plugs into the outlets and although I bought some corner guards, they were so ugly, we only put one on a side table in a high-traffic zone. The cabinet locks actually came in handy later when I had to “lock” the refrigerator because these little hyenas kept leaving the doors wide open!

OK, back to the subject though: sacrifices. I can clearly say that time and money are my top sacrifices since having kids. But then I look at these little persons and know I would do anything for them. Anything to keep them happy,  and safe. And healthy. Healthy – that goes a long way for me. What I ate changed dramatically when I was pregnant and I read everything and more about what’s safe and what’s not. This continued for the food I gave my kids and I fully admit that I drove my husband crazy, and I think I still do.

Why do I care so much about the food I give my kids to eat?

Because I’m responsible for the health of their bodies way beyond the age of 18. Because what I feed my kids now will still affect their health many years from now. Because what they learn to eat now will lay the path of how they view food and eating later in life.

Let me stop for a moment here, because this thought can go either way. If you force your child to eat foods they don’t enjoy, not only will they resent these foods long after they’ve moved out, but they will also have a difficult time to enjoy trying new foods as an adult. They may have a hard time enjoying vegetables or healthy eating in general. They will love food, but mostly those foods you forbid them to have. Don’t force healthy eating – encourage it!

healthy real food kids meal

I love food. I love trying new foods and flavors, and textures, but I will tell you that if I don’t like it, or I can’t stand the smell of it, then I won’t eat it. The same applies to my kids: if they react to a new dish with “Ehw, I don’t want that!” they have to at least smell it and try one bite. Just one bite. And they have to chew it. We will never force them to eat their meal if they genuinely don’t like it, but they have to try it. There were moments when they put it in their mouth and spit it right back out…. trial and error. I guess that’s parenting. There have been many times when my husband or I made a new dish and we were fully prepared to get solid rejections, but then those buggers licked the plate. And the next day they refused to eat it. Sound familiar?

My daughter is 5 now and we are finally seeing the fruits of that labor: she is losing her picky-ness over dinner and her lunchbox comes home empty almost every day. She gets a say to what goes in her lunchbox from the things we have in our pantry and fridge. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s all about those darned squeezies again. I still buy them out of convenience, but at least I got down from 5x a week to 2-3 times a week only. Baby steps…

My kids are still in preschool so the peer pressure of who’s having what is really not an issue yet. Or so I thought… When we passed the Lunchables aisle at Publix a while back, my daughter about fell out of the cart, excitedly pointing to the familiar yellow boxes of stacked crackers & bologna. “Mommy, I want that. “so-and-so” has those at lunch!” I say no, and she keeps on pleading. So I blurt out the typical answer and can instantly hear my mom in my head: “We can make that ourselves at home. And they’ll be better too because these have all kinds of chemicals in them.” The conversation went on for a while longer, but eventually we kept walking and the matter was forgotten.

The “it has chemicals” card is the only one I have so far with my kids. I can’t explain to a 5-yr old what transfats or preservatives are, but one day I will. Until then, I hope that more parents would sacrifice their time and a little bit more money to actually prepare a healthy, and nutritious meal for their kid’s lunchbox instead of relying on packaged, dead, food-like substances like these:

Lunchables hot dogs

This is not a meal. Not for kids, not for anyone. Just because it says 9g of protein does not mean that this will give your child the nutrition it needs. There is nothing healthy in this and nothing that will help your child thrive in health, or in life, or at school.
What this does give your child is a slew of artificial, and in cases toxic ingredients that sacrifice your kid’s health for your time and money. How much is your child’s health worth?

Part of the reason I started this blog is to open other people’s eyes to how what they’re eating can cause serious damage, or can seriously help their health. Understanding why is they key factor, so some of my posts are sometimes a little lengthy and technical. I will do my best to keep this short and sweet :)

Here’s the ingredient list of the Lunchables box above:
Lunchables Ingred.1

I wonder how many parents have actually read this list from start to finish before putting it in their shopping cart.

Can you read this and wholeheartedly say: Yes, this all sounds good to me. I believe this is a good lunch for my child. ???

I can’t. I read this and ask: How can this be allowed? What happened to our belief system that we think this is ok to eat?

A while back I put up a glossary of artificial ingredients to avoid in which many of the above ingredients are listed, including why they’re used and the harm they can cause to your body. While reading this list, I realized that there are still quite a few that I haven’t researched so it’s even scarier! ALWAYS avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup (also called just corn syrup, or corn syrup solids)! It’s the major cause of heart disease,obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay, and more. Read more here.

I don’t want to make this too lengthy and boring, so to make it short I will just point out the harmless ingredients. Out of the 84 (!) ingredients it takes to put this “lunch” together, there are only about a dozen that are real ingredients, like water, whole wheat flour, tomato paste and the 6 ingredients that make up mustard.

The rest are additives that make the other few ingredients taste better, last longer, look brighter, and keep them from spoiling. With a list of preservatives and additives that is longer than 5 ingredients, you can be sure that the little bit of chicken and pork is of the worst quality. But it’s cheap. How else can Kraft sell these at a price of 2 for $6???

Is this the price for your child’s health? $3 a meal? Well, so what should I do instead, you ask? Time is limited and money is tight. I believe it’s a sacrifice worth making. I could start a whole other blog on that subject but there are already many of those out there. If you’re ready to put your family’s health before convenience, I suggest getting ideas from some of these sites for recipes, time saving tips, and much more. Just do me a favor: don’t forget about my little blog and come back again. Maybe let those bloggers know you found them through me :)

If you’re wondering what I DO pack in my kids lunchboxes, here’s a list of what they had this week (sorry, I didn’t take pictures and they’re not as fancy as some of these other bloggers’ lunches):

Monday: leftover roasted snapper with brown rice, red peppers, broccoli, and zucchini; organic fruit yogurt, whole wheat chocolate muffin, apple chips, water

Tuesday: organic shells & cheese with fresh spinach and broccoli, squeezie, apple chips, organic cereal bar, water

Wednesday: leftover meatloaf with red peppers, mixed with brown rice and cauliflower, organic cheese stick and crackers, kale chips, organic apple sauce, water

Thursday: tri-color rotini with Applegate hot dog, zucchini and broccoli, organic fruit yogurt, apple slices for one – apple chips for the other, raisins, and a pumpkin-apple-flax muffin (click for recipe)

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