I love the beginning of the school year. There’s a sense of anticipation and a certain excitement of new things to come. By the end of summer, New Year’s resolutions have come and gone and I always feel that this is my second chance to start anew.
So I am proposing a challenge, a fall resolution of sorts. I challenge each parent reader (including myself) to start the new school year off with the “One Less Challenge”. Each week, I challenge you to eliminate one processed food from your kids’ lunchbox. That could be any lunch or snack item that is highly processed and that could contain food colouring, preservatives, excess sodium and highly processed sugars and fats. Just one item per week.
Why am I throwing this out there? It all started when the Kid and I sat down last week and brainstormed about what he’d like to pack for his lunches and snacks this upcoming school year. The conversation over the last week has included what he’s observed in the lunchroom and at recess and he was concerned: “Mom, I don’t understand why kids bring food like pop tarts, chocolate coated granola bars, Kraft Dinner, Froot Loops, even Subway to school! It’s not healthy. How can their brains learn well on processed foods?” Good question.
I know I pontificate about the perils of processed foods often and you don’t want to hear me rant, so here are Lisa’s ten good reasons to eat less processed foods from 100 Days of Real Food (I can add more reasons, but I’ll leave that for another day.).
Trading processed foods up for more healthy alternatives doesn’t have to be difficult nor expensive. Going less-processed doesn’t mean you have to make everything from scratch either…there are a lot of store bought foods that fit the bill. Here are some easy, healthy snack ideas. and some healthy lunch ideas. Not sure of what ingredients to avoid? This will give you some guidance on reading ingredient lists.
Here are some popular processed foods to consider replacing:
-goldfish crackers, chips
-luncheon meats, vegetarian meat substitutes
-packaged granola bars, marshmallow crispy rice squares, soft cookies
-chewy fruit snacks and fruit roll ups
-pudding and jello cups
-juice beverages and cocktails
-frozen entrées and pizzas
Up for the challenge? I don’t expect you to deck out in tie-dye, join a commune and eat lentils all day. I just want you to think about what you’re packing in your kids’ lunchboxes, understand how those foods affect your kids’ health and see if you can include one less processed food by replacing it with something healthier.
Your kids will have much to gain by including one less. I promise.