Carrot sticks always come home uneaten? Here is an effective way to send a fruit and/or a veg for school lunch.

Packing school lunches is tricky. It’s one very demanding meal. And if you are already sick and tired of packing school lunch, know you are not alone.

School lunches are demanding to pack. Look at all the conditions the school lunch has to meet.

They have to be:

  1. Portable but durable (no crushing allowed)
  2. Creative—but not too time consuming to prepare
  3. Easy to eat
  4. Easy to eat quickly
  5. Palatable enough that your children won’t trade or dump what you pack

And then…maybe…# 6. nutritious.

No wonder packing school lunches can make perfectly healthy, normal and sane parents lose their cool. There’s a lot going on.

Regularly sending food that your kids won’t eat teaches kids to practice what I call, “Seek and Destroy.” It’s counterproductive.

On the other hand, it’s important for children to get used to the idea that fruits and vegetables are normal, go-to foods. They’re not once-a-day-at-dinner-when-you-fight-over-eating-them foods.

Rule 1 for packing school lunches: Talk to your children about what you’re packing and only send food they agree they’ll eat.

Of course you can, and should, have guidelines such as one fruit or one vegetable must be included. Or, you can have chocolate milk but only once a week. Or it’s ok to have a cookie but that is your treat for the day.

Rule 2 for packing school lunches: When it comes to fruit and vegetables, be happy with a Happy Bite.

The Happy Bite is the bite that your children are happy and willing to take before you intervene to ask them to eat more.

This means: Let your child decide how much you send. Ask, “Is this enough?” “Is this too much?”

It’s important to serve a fruit and vegetable every day — at every meal and snack—and that includes school lunch.

Here are 10 reasons to serve fruit and vegetable at every meal and every snack.

The most important reason, however, is that it implements the habits of Proportion and Variety. And if you consult your kids, it teaches the habit of Moderation as well.

1) Kids can’t eat what isn’t being served.  Every time you don’t serve a fruit and vegetable is another time when your child won’t eat a fruit or vegetable.

2) Eating is a matter of math. The more frequently you expose your kids to fruits and vegetables the more normal these foods will seem.

3) Putting fruits and vegetables into your feeding structure stops most of the conflict. When it comes to eating everyone will know exactly what to expect.

4) Fruits and vegetables will displace some of the other snack stuff you normally serve. This will upgrade your child’s diet.

5) By changing the ratio of fruits and vegetables to other tasty items you’ll point your kid’s taste buds in the right direction.

6) Fruits and vegetables will become a go-to food. That’s better than a once-a-day opportunity to fight.

7) You’ll introduce more fruit and vegetable variety. Peas, broccoli and string beans will only take you so far.

8) You’ll be content to serve smaller portions. A few bites really add up.

9) Your previously sane self will return becuase you will no longer have to be the food police.

10) It’s the right habit for a lifetime of healthy eating..

Read 10 Ways Improving Your Kids’ Snacking Will Improve YOUR Life.

To you naysayers out there—“That will never work with my kid.”—I say this:

Do it anyway.  (Waiting for your children to grow into eating more fruits and vegetables is like waiting for Godot. It might never happen.)

 ~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~