Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Chats in the Van

On the way home from school today, Regina (8) and Veronica (7) were talking to each other about "eating healthy at school."  

Veronica: Yeah, so I took out my lunch and I said to all the kids "Okay, I know it's weird, and it's already embarrassing, so don't laugh." 

Regina: Yeah, I know, it's like they just like to laugh.

Me: What?  Are you guys embarrassed about eating good-for-you-foods?

Veronica: Uh, yeah!

Regina: Well... I'm not ashamed of it. But it is kind of embarrassing to explain to other kids why we have such different food.

Me: What does your food do for you?

Regina: It makes us healthy. It helps keep cancer away... and... um.. makes us feel happier.

Me: Good. So what does the school food do?

Regina: It makes you feel sick and tired. 

Veronica: It makes me want grains! (LOL)

I got distracted for a bit, and then I hear Regina say:

"Don't you think it's terrible the kids are all getting sick?"

Me: They are? With what... when did it start?

Regina: Well, I guess cancer, becaues all they eat is sugar! 


Me: Okay, but it's important to remember we don't say things like "you're going to get cancer!" to the kids, because that is not charitable. And it is up to their parents' as to what they eat. So you just eat your food happily, and let them eat what they have. 

Regina: Well, I told one kid [who has repeatedly made fun of her food] "at least my mom cares about me!" because, you don't want us to get cancer, but I think her mom doesn't care much about her, because all she eats is pudding and cheetos.

Me:  ACK!  I mean, thanks, but... yeah, we don't say that either. I am sure her mother cares a lot about her, but maybe doesn't know about food, or doesn't have the time to take care of it. So we should only say kind things, like "I'm glad you're interested, maybe I can bring you an extra piece tomorrow."  All parents really love their children, okay?

Regina: Oh. 

Veronica: Sooo.... can I have grains?

Me: No. 

Yeah, so I hadn't thought about what my girls would have to say to their friends about the radical switch in diet. I had said a quick word like "you tell people that it's a new way of eating that makes you feel healthier and happier."  

For years we've talked about food, its properties, and what it does for you, so they do know many benefits and they know why we eat the things we eat, but they are still embarrassed. Any thoughts on how to handle this?


  1. My kiddos go through the same thing in the lunch room. And they know why we eat the way we do and they know that it's not good to eat the way their friends do, but they just want to feel "normal" and like everyone else. It's shocking to me what kids bring to school, and I have been assured that my kids are the ONLY ones in the WHOLE school who don't bring a treat in their lunch (even though two girls in my daughter's class have Crone's disease and I'm sure don't bring in junk).

    We eat this way for our health, not because of a health issue, so I have allowed them each one "cheat" that they can bring in their lunch box to make them feel normal. They both chose pretzels. I have to pick my battles.

  2. Find snippets of information to help your kids understand why it's healthier to eat this way. Teach them about insulin and biology. If your children cannot understand AND explain the biological benefits, they will probably not make it a long-term change. If your children can bring the intelligence of others up, your children have won two battles.

  3. Love it! We've had so many embarrassing moments as parents of young children eating primal. But, maybe it will make others think about what they feed themselves, or their children. Hey, maybe we adults should stop censoring our own thoughts so much in our quest to be politically correct!

  4. Hi!
    I've wanted to write this comment for awhile. As a retired first grade teacher, I often had students who had allergies. Since comments about "weird" lunches are common, I had an "allergy" talk with my students every year. It sounds like it would be easier for your girls to say they are "allergic" to certain food. When they eat them they feel bad. Many other kids can eat the same foods and not feel bad. That's okay. I would describe my own food allergies (mangos and chocolate) to the students and describe what happens to me (swelling and headaches). I ask the kids if I should eat these foods if they make me feel bad. They all feel VERY bad for me about the chocolate. I tell them I would feel bad (or sad) if they made fun of me for not eating chocolate since its hard not to eat it already. Then I ask the students if they have any allergies. Almost every student either has an allergy or a parent or sibling who has an allergy. I ask each of them how they would feel if someone made fun of them for the allergy. You would be amazed at how common food allergies are! Obviously, this might not work for you, but it would help explain to the girls why they can't eat certain foods that others can.