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Bl**dy government/schools healthy eating, thou-shalt-rear-thy-children-on-lettuce-leaves-alo directives

85 replies

frogs · 23/02/2007 18:52

So there I am, clearing out ds's schoolbag of half a term's accumulated detritus of squashed bits of homework and out-of-date party invites when I find a snotty little note:

'Dear Parent/Carer
As part of our bid to gain Healthy Schools status we have been checking children's lunchboxes to support families in helping their children eat healthily. Earlier this term you were given a list of foods that should not be brought into school, and we ask you to respect these guidelines when preparing your child's lunch.
Thank you

The list includes, predictably enough, sweets, chocolate bars, biscuits(!), crisps, any drinks that aren't water or plain fruit juice and pretty much anything else containing sugar or fat. No playtime snacks are allowed apart from fruit.

Ds has been ill, on and off, since before Christmas with mysterious viruses that give him temperatures. He's always on the skinny side, but currently looks like gulag boy. Every rib and every vertebra is visible, he's deathly pale and he has little hollows under his cheekbones.

How, fergodsake, am I supposed to get enough calories into this child when the govt and schools are hellbent on persuading us we should be feeding them nothing but carrot sticks and apples? He has a healthy diet, eats lots of fruit and veg (when he eats at all, that is), we have nonsugary breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread, freshly-cooked suppers, no fizzy drinks and very few sweets. What is bl**dy well wrong with putting a packet of crisps and a penguin biscuit into the lunchbox of a very active, naturally skinny child who clearly needs to be fattened up a bit? Yes, I know there's a national obesity crisis, blah blah, but not in my family there isn't. And not in his class either, from what I can see -- all his friends look like twiglets on legs as well.

I'm not looking for advice really, just sounding off. Think I will include a note to his form teacher on Monday saying that if they want to discuss the contents of ds's lunchbox they can telephone me in person. I just really hate this idea they're giving the kids that there are healthy foods and unhealthy foods, and that everything containing fat and sugar is automatically bad for you.

OP posts:
PersonalClown · 23/02/2007 18:57

I hate these bloody announcements, incentives, drive, whatever.
I let my ds eat pure crap because he's autistic and I know that he'll eat. I'm so glad he goes to a special school that understands this.
Ds' paed has told me to let him eat what he wants as he's not malnourished, a little underweight and the battles of food are just not worth it.

tubismybub · 23/02/2007 19:01

I would send back a note saying " Thank you so much for checking the quality of my child's lunch on a daily basis, to help support the school in educating my son to a good standard I will be regularly sitting in on lesson and I ask you respect my expectations when preparing your lesson plans."

frogs · 23/02/2007 19:44

Thanks guys!

I was expecting an avalanche of 'crisps are the work of the devil' posts.

Bought a job lot of Wagon Wheels on special offer today, in the hope it will tempt the pasty one's little appetite.

OP posts:
tubismybub · 23/02/2007 19:47

oooh wagon wheels, fabbo!

Cappuccino · 23/02/2007 19:50

if he's really that poorly, ill and undernourished he needs to see a dietician

my dd has special desserts because she has feeding problems as a result of cerebral palsy; she was underweight and prone to viruses as a result - they have sugar in and are fine to send to school

I don't believe that you have to fill your kids up with chocolate to put them weight on

what's wrong with some greek style yogurt or would they tolerate a home-made oaty flapjack

Cappuccino · 23/02/2007 19:52

I should add that these 'desserts' are actually meal replacements with vital vitamins, proteins etc

you don't get that in a penguin

foxinsocks · 23/02/2007 19:55

Full fat yoghurts
Full fat rice puddings (ambrosia do snack pots now!)

I can't stand anyone telling me what to do BUT I imagine they are not trying to catch the likes of you but the likes of those who come in every day with a bar of choc, a packet of crisps and a fizzy drink and that's it - but then again, they probably don't read the newsletters and feel aggrieved!

frogs · 23/02/2007 19:57

There's only so many home-made oaty flapjacks a child can eat, Cap. He already gets one for lunch, so my plan was to slip him a little choccy biscuity thing at playtime and an extra bag of crisps for lunch. They all race through lunch anyway, cos they want to get outside for playtime, so anything that doesn't have immediate appeal tends to come home untouched.

We're not in malnourished, need-a-dietician territory, but he does looks a little weedy. I just get fed up with the implication that the healthiest diet is always low-fat, low-sugar blahdiblah.

OP posts:
Cappuccino · 23/02/2007 20:00

to put the other perspective, I try to keep my childrens' diets as healthy as possible

the last thing I want is them coming home after their lunch and going 'Sid gets a chocolate bar and crisps'

I don't want to appear awkward but a penguin and crisps is about as medicinal as my dad's whisky

AnnabelCaramel · 23/02/2007 20:02

Aaaaaaaaaaah your op made me want to cry. (And go and bake him a big sticky sugary cake!) Skinny little boys always have this effect on me...Give him whatever you feel best.

Saggarmakersbottomknocker · 23/02/2007 20:03

Capp - I'm interested in your dd's desserts. Do you get them from the dietician?

dd has health problems and her hard-working heart burns calories like mad. I struggle to keep the weight on her despite her huge appetite. Willing to try anything that might help.

Cappuccino · 23/02/2007 20:08

saggars yes

we got referred through the GP or her physio - can't remember which

they can either give little cartons of drink (which the guy I saw discounted after seeing how little she would drink) or these desserts

they are called Forticreme, they come in different flavours eg forest fruit, vanilla, banana, chocolate etc

they taste really nice, she likes them and they have really made a difference and have stimulated her appetite for other foods

and she's only been having them for 3 months

frogs · 23/02/2007 20:08

But Cappucino, he gets lots of nutrients in all the healthy stuff he has. He just clearly needs more calories, so it seems logical to provide him with high calorie food. The salt factor in crisps doesn't fill me with joy, but apart from that there's nothing intrinsically evil about them. Ditto choc. A choccy biscuit seems like a happy addition to an overall balanced diet in a child who is clearly not overweight.

Did anyone see Dr. Dee Dawson on that programme on anorexic kids last night? She was echoing my kneejerk reaction to these healthy eating drives, namely that there are no inherently healthy or unhealthy food, and that the focus on low-fat low-sugar was at least partly responsible for encouraging some of the anorexic girls to take things to the logical conclusion of cutting out all fat and sugar. My youngest sister has an eating disorder, so I may be oversensitised in this regard, but I would prefer them to talk about healthy diets rather than making children thing that fruit is the only truly healthy food.

OP posts:
foxinsocks · 23/02/2007 20:11

I agree with the whole 'healthy foods' thing but you are obviously providing him a balanced diet whereas there are plenty of families who only send their kids to school with snack type food and nothing else.

However, I guess it's arguable whether banning those foods will make a difference to those families if they don't have healthy diets anyway and don't take much notice of what the school says!

tortoiseSHELL · 23/02/2007 20:11

frogs, I so know how you feel - ds1 is skin and bone - he is just a horrifically fussy eater, and it is a real struggle to find anything with calories in that he will eat! His school is mercifully not too fussy over lunchboxes - I believe you're not allowed chocolate, so ds1 tells me, but otherwise anything goes.

I tend to give him a cheese or lemon curd sandwich, sometimes a hot cross bun instead or as well as, a jammy dodger, some little sausages and a little bag of grapes. He also has a 1/3 pint of milk from school at break time.

It's very stressful isn't it - I saw a child from Zimbabwe on the news yesterday who they were saying was very malnourished, and I KNOW they weren't necessarily meaning 'underweight' it was the balance that was wrong, but they looked so much more healthy than ds1 who does look a bit like a famine victim at the moment. The HV is speaking to the dietician (supposedly) to talk about possible physical reasons for his eating problems, so I really do understand your frustration!

Twiglett · 23/02/2007 20:11

I'm sorry but this generic note was obviously not directed at you personally it was directed at the kind of parent, and there are many sadly who would send their 5 year old child into school with a packed lunch of 2 chocolate bars, 3 packets of crisps and a can of coke .. this is a true lunch box I have seen

southeastastra · 23/02/2007 20:14

my ds(5) teacher told him his custard cream was unhealthy, it's the only sweet thing he has in his lunch, we're making our children paranoid about food

Miaou · 23/02/2007 20:15

It may not have been directed at frogs personally, but the resulting affect is personal - what is the next logical step, that her ds's lunchbox is held up as an example of a "bad" lunch because it contains crisps and a penguin?

Frogs - will he eat muffins? They're quite high in calories.

Miaou · 23/02/2007 20:16

effect - doh - pregnancy brain

frogs · 23/02/2007 20:16

Twig, I know, I know. But when you look at the kids in his class, or the school for that matter, you do wonder where the obesity stats come from. There is one slightly lardy boy in the class (and his mum and dad are short and rounded too), most of the others look like, well, twiglets.

And I slightly resent the school's holier-than-thou tone, the implication that we'd all be feeding our kids on panda pops and chupa chups lollies if we didn't have them to set us straight.

But I will choke back my irritation in the interests of the greater good and my reluctance to embarrass my child by Making A Fuss.

OP posts:
Cappuccino · 23/02/2007 20:16

agree with twiglett

and it's not just about improving the diets of those who won't be helped, it's about reducing peer pressure to eat unhealthy food

dd has a friend who has dairylea dunkers and a packet of quavers at lunchtime. dd really looks forward to sharing a packet of quavers with her dad at the weekend

cos of this girl she now thinks she should have a whole packet every day

Saggarmakersbottomknocker · 23/02/2007 20:18

Sorry for hijacking frogs.

Thanks Capp. She used to have calogen and maxijul added to her food as a baby and did really well. However she's 13 now and hasn't gained any weight for ages but she really can't eat more volume. Will look into it.

Twiglett · 23/02/2007 20:18

its affect is only personal if one chooses to take it that away

ok I'm an unemotional observer on this .. but what is the school supposed to do .. spend valuable time they don't have personalising letters

sometimes you just have to read a communication from school and think 'they don't mean me' screw it up and chuck it in the bin

and only an outsider can point that out cos if I'd got the letter I'd be seething too

Bozza · 23/02/2007 20:24

One way to get round this is to send them for school dinners. They have sponge and custard or rice pudding virtually every day according to DS.

juuule · 23/02/2007 20:25

I'm with Frogs on this one. We are in danger of making our children paranoid over food. I had to go into school as my 9yo got to the stage where she was refusing to put anything in her lunchbox apart from a bottle of water and a custard cream. Her reasoning being she could eat the custard cream quick before the dinner staff saw it and nobody could comment that what she had for lunch was "what she shouldn't be having". Prior to this she would take pasta - stopped that when she was made "to eat it all up and don't leave any" after she was full. So she wouldn't take anything of any quantity just in case she didn't feel that hungry at lunch. She wanted to hide what she was having for lunch for fear of being criticised or pushed to eat all of it when she didn't want to. I asked the school to let me know if they had any problems with her lunch and explained the problems it was causing us. So far she has been fine, is starting to take a more varied lunch and I've heard nothing from the school.
As regards the chocolate biscuit thing and children not taking them because it upsets the children whose parents don't allow them, I think that it is up to the parents to explain to their children why not and not for the parents who do allow them to stop.

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