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Snack Attack

I am an Angry Mom. I'm the one who brings orange slices to feed the soccer team when it's my turn at snack and grimaces at the parents who bring potato chips and fruit-flavored drinks rather than 100 percent juice. I'm the one who reads food labels to my children to teach them the difference between ingredients they've heard of and those they can't pronounce. I'm the one who grows beans, cucumbers, tomatoes ... pretty much anything my one small sunny spot can handle.

Several months ago, I visited the kindergarten classes at the elementary school my son starts attending next week. It happened to be morning snack time, and the kids were eating Doritos. When I questioned the PTA representative walking us around about snack choices, she told me that was one of the better choices. Often, parents (who supply for the entire class in our school) bring cookies, she said. Further investigation revealed that some teachers do try to steer parents toward healthy choices, but clearly it's on a class-by-class basis.

Every time I think of all the good this school has to offer, including a lunch menu that has clearly changed to include whole grain products and baked rather than fried foods, it irks me that such snacks are the norm. Schools are changing, but many parents aren't. And that's the impetus for today's healthy snacks package in the Health section.

Sally Squires and I held a snack taste test with 29 Washington, D.C., public school students. The kids were excited to try every food put in front of them, even the ones they turned out not to like. And they had a lot to say about them. Each snack we fed them was packaged and easy to buy at the grocery store. Each had some nutritional value to them. And each stayed around the 100-calorie mark that's right for their age. You can see the results on this interactive graphic.

While I still prefer to feed my kids fruits, vegetables and nuts as a snack, some of these ideas will broaden their horizons.

So, today, I encourage you: Become Angry Moms and Dads, like Susan Rubin and Amy Kalafa. Pass along these links. Encourage other parents to think of food for kids differently. Talk to your school principal about foods allowed in the school -- not just those in the cafeteria at lunchtime. Supply fruits and vegetables when it's your turn to bring snack for a group of kids. Try a taste test at home with your kids and their friends and have them rank food and tell you what they like and don't like about the choices you've given.

What has most surprised you about the foods you see in schools or other activities? Have you tried any creative ideas to change the food choices available to children?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  August 21, 2007; 1:06 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers
Previous: Stop! Don't You Know That's Bad for Your Kid? | Next: Family, Family, Where Art Thou?

Comments


I'm pretty appalled at what my students bring in from school, but when I brought carrot sticks in for a few weeks, my kids were descending on my table like flies. When I taught them the beauty of fat free ranch or peanut butter to dip in, they thought I was a genius. A lot of the parents or the transport teachers (teachers who drive the kids from day school to after school) buy the kids crap, but the kids study nutrition since pre-school, and most are willing to try anything. Of course, these same kids gobble down dried cod strips and room-temperature tomatoes, both of which I can't really deal with.

Posted by: Kat | August 21, 2007 2:17 AM | Report abuse

"When I taught them the beauty of fat free ranch or peanut butter..."

Fat - free ranch and other "fat - free" foods are so loaded with chemicals, they should be put on the list of petroleum by-products and not on a shelf marked for human consumption. Taste like it too. Blech!

And peanut butter, besides the fact that most brand-name marketers take out the peanut oil and replace it with partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil and is loaded with corn syrup, can actually kill a kid.

Better stick with the Doritos!

Posted by: Lil Husky | August 21, 2007 7:20 AM | Report abuse

For years I suffered from what I like to call "Snack Performance Anxiety." I'd fret that the parents wouldn't think my choices were healthy enough or conversely, the kids would turn up their noses at "lame" healthy snacks. Usually I'd split the difference and spend way more than I wanted. (I won't go into how some families managed to avoid the snack sign up sheet all together. grrr.) Enough with the snacks! I can't tell you how relieved I was when the soccer coach last season (a mom, btw) decreed that it was every family for themselves in terms of snack. Amen.

Posted by: Anon | August 21, 2007 7:40 AM | Report abuse

My daughter starts preschool this week in a very well-run program we are excited about.

The teacher informed us that parents no longer provide the snacks, she provides the snacks (we pay a snack fee!) because in the past the parents brought C-R-A-P for snacks. She provides a healthy snack that covers ALL food groups (yes, this is just the morning snack!!) and then each week we get a list of all the new foods the children have tried.

I can't tell you what a great idea I think this is. Several of our friends have said their picky eaters really learned from this and became good, adventurous eaters. I'm just glad there are people out there in the world who are still interested in providing healthy food for children!

Posted by: viennamom | August 21, 2007 8:31 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see this topic, but I have to say that I didn't really find all the "healthy" snack options (though convenient) all that great - fat-free pudding? Cinnamon chips?

Nature packages some snacks pretty well: clementine oranges, bananas, apples. What's wrong with those?

Posted by: Shandra | August 21, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

One thing I've had some difficulty with in "snack times" is that the organizers do not seem to know if there are eating restrictions (kosher, vegitarianism, etc) that should be followed. Take the example of nut allergies or soya allergies: that eliminates a lot of foods that you can serve, healthy or not.

With that in mind, I tend to agree with Shandra that most fruits are a solid and safe choice. Just remember to buy in season (and local if you can!) to keep the cost down.

Posted by: David S | August 21, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

My DD goes to a Montessori school. The school emphasizes healthy foods and parents are not allowed to bring in unapproved items. A list of acceptable snacks is posted and you sign up to bring in one of those. I've brought in fruit, yogurt, veggies, flowers and coconut meat.

Posted by: olney | August 21, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how they'd work for preschool snack, but my toddler devours freeze-dried fruits and veggies. They're expensive, but they're easily portable, they don't go bad, and the manufacturer claims that they retain all of their nutrients.

Even with the freeze-dried stuff available, I find snacks difficult. I'm always looking for non-perishable, healthy foods that won't be crushed in the diaper bag. And DD has to be willing to eat it even when the other kids at playgroup are chowing down on Goldfish and "fruit snacks" that are basically gummi bears. I'm not looking forward to how much harder it will be when DD enters preschool.

Posted by: newsahm | August 21, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

My one-year-old daughter's daycare is great in every respect but the snacks. They think they're so sneaky about it, too. Don't they realize that toddlers are little parakeets?

When she comes home saying "Cookie! Cookie! Cookie! Cheetos! Cheetos! Cupcake! Cupcake! Cupcake!" I'm right there the next morning saying, "No more crap! No more crap!"

My only hope is that when she's at daycare, she's saying, "Carrot! Carrot! Carrot!"

Posted by: Bob | August 21, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The only problem with fruit is getting to it! You can't pre-cut apple and bananas unless you add lemon. Orange segments are easier, as are strawberries, and grapes are a no-brainer.

Fat-free food is disgusting. I'd much rather give my kid the full fat experience than bizarre chemicals and added sugar. Simply Jif is yummy, with much less sugar. It actually tastes like a peanut. Not that nuts or nut products are allowed in school anymore. Nuts and cheese are my standard go-to snacks. I don't see why people give kids so many processed carbs. I guess it's just easy and available. Fruits, veggies, nuts, cheese, and yogurt, those are my votes, even if the yogurt is a bit sugary.

Posted by: atb2 | August 21, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

We switched daycares recently in part because of the food situation. The old daycare had great people, but the snacks were Doritos and cupcakes and the meals were fast food crap. We got a sugar-pumped kid every afternoon. Now he goes to a place that has a great program and a great menu -- whole grains, fruits, healthy variation. He accepts that just as readily as he accepted the other. If you're stuck at a place without healthy options, don't feel like you have to cave at home when they ask for junk food.

Posted by: VaToddlerMom | August 21, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Fat free food is not disgusting. Open your eyes, expand your horizens, try different brands.

And you can buy peanut butter with the oil in it. Again, open your eyes.

Posted by: Tired of the excuses | August 21, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

I couldn't cave when she gets home even if I wanted to. There are no cookies or cupcakes in my house.

The biggest problem is, like you said, the sugar high and low. She comes home all jazzed up, and then she crashes and becomes very cranky. The daycare doesn't care because they don't have to deal with the results of their actions.

And before anyone asks, no, it's not normal toddler crankiness. She's fine on the weekends when she isn't eating garbage.

Posted by: Bob | August 21, 2007 9:48 AM | Report abuse

We are a healthy snack family and always provide healthy snacks when it is our turn on the snack roster be that for school, soccer or Sunday School. However, the whole no cupcakes for birthdays is a bit much for me. Singing happy birthday around the carrots and dip is just plain odd. I think like everything else people get extreme and then the idea loses meaning.

Posted by: Howard | August 21, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

The thing about snacks is that with everything in moderation then everything can be part of a healthy diet.

My son's halloween candy haul still sits in his pumpkin because he's allowed one dessert per night and he'd rather have strawberries or watermelon or orange slices or cake or cookies or ice cream or popcorn or chips than candy. I found that many kids under age five dislike candy.

There are many sweet foods that are much better for kids than others. What is better in a kid's bag, a granola bar or white flour cookies? A granola bar. Do the kids care? All the kids I've met act like a granola bar is more sophisticated or cooler than oreos. Kids I know think that sting cheese is cooler than doritos.

Part of the secret is to cook real food at home. If you cook with real produce every day and never rely on more than one prepared food item (like frozen corn or chicken nuggets) per meal then everything is fine. All of our friends and daycare parents make fresh dinner 4-5 nights a week and for the second night of lasagne we make sure we have fresh green beans or salad sticks or something like that.

Some days we go through the rainbow rule, that everyone in the family has to eat something of each color: Red, green, yellow, orange. If it means carrot and celery sticks every night in March then that's what it means.

Sure, my son refuses to eat eggplant zucchini that wasn't battered and fried, but he will eat broccoli every day for 3 months in the winter. Sure my son begs for chicken strips, buffalo chicken wings, breaded pork chops, ribs, burgers and other less-than-ideal cuts of meat but nothing stopped me from making fried chicken at home. My hands aren't broken.

Posted by: DCer | August 21, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

My four year old and 15 month old think that raisins are a great treat. The little boxes are portable and last a long time - plus, they're sweet tasting (and healthy), so they look forward to them.

Posted by: South | August 21, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Not that nuts or nut products are allowed in school anymore.
-----

anyone actually experience this for real? It always seems like it was "somewhere else"

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I've found a great snack to be canned black beans and dark red kidney beans (rinsed off, and the organic kind if you can find them).

Easy to pick up with those little fingers, not really messy, and great nutrition! The key is to start very young with these...

Americans tend to overlook beans, but they are full of protein and other good stuff, iron, etc. Mix them with corn and some brown rice, and you've got a wonderfully nutritious meal, too.

Posted by: goodhome631 | August 21, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

No amount of coaxing will get me to eat fat free foods. (And why would I want a fat free vinagrette? There's nothing wrong with olive oil, vinegar, and S&P.) I don't have a fear of fat. I'm much more aware of corn syrup. Fat free foods tend to compensate with corn syrup. Not only does it taste funny, have a funny texture, and not satisfy, it's unhealthy.

Posted by: atb2 | August 21, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

While I appreciate the idea of feeding children healthful foods, I just have to wonder what the big deal is. You're feeding your child healthy meals and snacks several times a day - it's really not going to kill them to have a cookie or a handful of potato chips a day (or likely less than one a day because there will be parents who bring healthful snacks.)

The problems with childhood obesity come from being immersed in an environment of inactivity, fried foods at every meal, unhealthful snacking in front of the television, etc. Not from a cookie at kindergarten.

Posted by: oldmom | August 21, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I also hate fat-free food. I think it's better to eat greater quantities of food that are naturally fat-free (like fruit), and just eat smaller amounts of fatty foods.

Also remember that toddlers need a LOT of fat in their diet for brain development- I read that the average 2-3 year old needs about 45 grams a day.

My DD usually gets fruit or yogurt for a snack (I make her a yogurt smoothie if we're going out). Her one "junk food" indulgence is that pirate's booty stuff, and frankly that's mostly just corn meal and dehydrated cheese, so nothing too terrible in it (apart from the salt, I guess). I am dreading the days of "shared snacks" because so much of this stuff barely even qualifies as food- it's mostly just dye and sugar. Frankly, the stuff grossed me out when I was a kid myself, and I really don't want my DD to have to eat it, either.

Oh, and unfortunately most granola bars aren't any better for you than cookies. They have just as much sugar and not much else. Unless you are making them yourself from scratch, they are pretty much glorified candy bars.

Posted by: reston, va | August 21, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"plus, they're sweet tasting (and healthy),"

I've read that raisins are just as damaging - maybe moreso - to teeth as candy, because they are so sugary (natural sugar is still sugar) and are so sticky.

Posted by: oldmom | August 21, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"it's really not going to kill them to have a cookie or a handful of potato chips a day (or likely less than one a day because there will be parents who bring healthful snacks.) "

I disagree- it's these insidious little calorie bumps that DO cause people to gain weight. Also, I don't want my kids to get the idea that cookies and chips are the kind of food you eat every day. And I really don't want them to develop a taste for koolaid and other pseudo-foods.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

"I don't want my kids to get the idea that cookies and chips are the kind of food you eat every day. And I really don't want them to develop a taste for koolaid and other pseudo-foods."

Well then, perhaps you need to find a school for your children that doesn't have community snack time so you can control every little thing about their lives.

If you let go (lighten up!) a little, your children will surprise you with their intelligence and ability to not gorge themselves on snacks and to make healthful choices in life.

Posted by: oldmom | August 21, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I've read that raisins are just as damaging - maybe moreso - to teeth as candy, because they are so sugary (natural sugar is still sugar) and are so sticky.

Posted by: oldmom | August 21, 2007 10:55 AM

oldmom - that's what toothbrushes are for.

Posted by: south | August 21, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Yep, and we all know that people are brushing their toddlers' teeth after they have a snack.

Or maybe the uptight Angry Moms are?

Posted by: oldmom | August 21, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Oldmom - what is with the nasty attitude? I simply added a post with an option for a toddler snack. Having a bad day?

Posted by: South | August 21, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

By Anonymous at August 21, 2007 10:25 AM

"anyone actually experience this for real? It always seems like it was 'somewhere else'"

There are several occasions that I have noted "no peanuts or anything made with peanut oil please" on instructions for various gatherings that involved bringing food. And if you have flown recently you've probably noticed that pretzels and other salty snacks have been replacing peanuts on airplanes.

The reasons are simple, peanut allergies are very common and most reactions are very violent. Even slight contact, such as being in a space where something is/has been fried in penut oil can cause it. I know if I was planning an even where I did not know about the allergies of those involved I would try to get rid or penut products as well.

I mentioned Soya earlier, which is another bag of beans entirely. It is nowhere near as common as peanut allergies, but speaking from personal experience soy products are in everything from snacks to soap. It is misery dealing with it.

Posted by: David S | August 21, 2007 11:13 AM | Report abuse

"I've read that raisins are just as damaging - maybe moreso - to teeth as candy, because they are so sugary (natural sugar is still sugar) and are so sticky."

It's stuff like this that makes it so confusing to eat healthy and to feed one's kids healthfully. There's so much contradictory information out there. One source says raisins are bad for kids' teeth (I've read that before, bot just here). Another says raisins are great, but don't let your kids drink juice. Yet another says juice is fine, but certain fruits and veggies barely even count as such because they have too much sugar/starch or too few nutrients (I've read warnings about watermelon, bananas, corn, peas, potatos, salad greens, frozen veggies, fresh veggies, etc).

With all of this confusing info out there, it can be really difficult to figure out how to create a balanced diet. It's no wonder some parents end up reaching for the Hi-C. At least it's fortified with vitamins.

Posted by: NewSAHM | August 21, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

When my twins were four, they were diagnosed with celiac disease and we switched to a gluten-free diet. I relaxed my standards, because so many foods were already off-limits. Now, we eat fresh and healthy the majority of the time, but I don't worry about a treat now and then. I focus more on making sure they get lots of exercise and have limited screen time.

Posted by: taylor.amy | August 21, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

The reasons are simple, peanut allergies are very common and most reactions are very violent.
------

I've never heard peanut allergies were anything but exteremly rare. When I talked to my pediatrician about it for my sons she said they'd never had a kid in their practice so far who had a real peanut allergy, but to not give them peanut butter before age 2. She said it was an urban myth.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"...However, the whole no cupcakes for birthdays is a bit much for me. Singing happy birthday around the carrots and dip is just plain odd. I think like everything else people get extreme and then the idea loses meaning."

I totally agree and sent a bundt cake for my son's birthday to his Montessori today. Sugar and white flour and everything. We don't often have that stuff but birthdays are a good time for it.

For people wondering about nut-free, our Montessori is nut-free snacks only (and healthy too, for which I'm grateful), but we can still make homemade.

Our local PS is nut free as in "you cannot send homemade baked goods to school," which I find upsetting if it's a blanket policy. If there is a kid that allergic there right now, fine (I'll personally worry about it when we get there :)).

Posted by: Shandra | August 21, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

by taylor.amy at August 21, 2007 11:19 AM

"When my twins were four, they were diagnosed with celiac disease and we switched to a gluten-free diet."

Talk about another substance that seems like it is in everything! A friend of my wife developed a gluten allergy and had to toss out many things, including her beloved pizza stone.

by NewSAHM at August 21, 2007 11:19 AM

"It's stuff like this that makes it so confusing to eat healthy and to feed one's kids healthfully."

I complained to a co-worker of mine who is a (former) nutritionist about this just the other day. She was commenting on the fact that my dried cherries do not really count as fruit (I was talking about eating fresh fruit, relating to a conversation on this blog). I took issue with the statement, as they sure seem like fruit to me, and as a reply she commented that it was mostly just a distinction in jargon.

If you ask me, it is an inequality problem (there's bit of a math jargon for you). [Calories burned] > [Calorie intake] should probably be simple way of promoting weight loss (if necessary). Otherwise, try and keep the equation balanced. If you want to add complexity by figuring in other dietary concerns, that is good, but otherwise keeping the equation is focus can help to keep it simple.

Posted by: David S | August 21, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Posted by Anonymous at August 21, 2007 11:25 AM

"I've never heard peanut allergies were anything but exteremly rare. When I talked to my pediatrician about it for my sons she said they'd never had a kid in their practice so far who had a real peanut allergy, but to not give them peanut butter before age 2. She said it was an urban myth."

You may be right. According to the Mayo Clinic:

"Peanut allergy affects approximately 1.5 million people in the United States. As the most common cause of life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), peanut allergies account for 80 percent of fatal or near-fatal allergic reactions each year."
http://www.mayoclinic.com/print/peanut-allergy/DS00710/DSECTION=all&METHOD=print

Since the US population is about 302 million that would be just under 1 in 300 people. Not that common I guess, but common enough that most public elementary schools will have at least one child with it.

The thing that gets me is the high risk factor since peanut allergies have such violent reactions and the ease at which those reactions can happen. Again, in the theoretical situation where I need to organize some sort of food event, if I can't know for certain, it's easier for me to just avoid peanuts.

Posted by: David S | August 21, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

My daughter's school is nut free and one grade is dairy free due to an extreme allergy. My daughter was in the same division as this child two years ago. The head of school sent a note dictating that children could no longer eat breakfast in the car on the way to school. Breakfast should be consumed at home and then faces and hands thoroughly washed with soap and water.
What is more interesting to me is years ago it was the parent of the allergic child's problem to maintain the kids safety. I have a cousin with allergies, my aunt and uncle had to teach him to avoid the triggers. Now parents seem to expect the whole world to bow to their kids issues. Finally, I'll probably get blasted for saying this, but in my experience the allergic kids have fairly, um, mature parents.

Posted by: 21117 | August 21, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Oldmom-
Sheesh! You need to lighten up. My DD is 2. She can't possibly make choices about what she does or doesn't eat, and is incapable of making "intelligent choices". That's why I don't want other parents forcing crap on her. A few cookies now and then is fine, but if stuff like that becomes a daily part of the kids' diet, it's generally replacing other foods that the kids need for nutrition.

Why are you being so nasty, anyway?

Posted by: reston, va | August 21, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Being a Tribeca parent of twin girls it is important for us to help them make good choices in food. The girls are in grade 4 in a private school uptown. The food is wonderful and my wife and I are so pleased that they took foie gras off the menu. So fatty and hard to clean off their Polo sweater sets. It was replaced Baby Skate with a Mushroom reduction. The girls love it. And they are also fond of the organic duckling in a lavender honey with sweet pea risotto.

But you know we are lucky these past few years have been good to us and the growth in the Hedge fund business with the bonuses etc. Thank god we passed all the subprime off on other bank's. We try and teach the girls that there are people who can't eat like we do and have to eat PB&J or chips or chicken nuggets or diet soda... my gosh what is the world coming to. Sometime we take the girls to MacDonalds and let them sample the food just so they value what they have. It is always good to see how others live. And when the girls act up and want to eat crap we tell them we are going to send Ashley their little poodle to Michael Vicks for the weekend.

Posted by: NYC | August 21, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Some of these woman are probably big time dieters and scared to death of anything that might make THEM fat. Let's teach our kids to start dieting from an early age. ROLLING MY EYES

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

You know, I agree with you, Stacey, about the foods, but I find this post rather ironic after yesterday's post. Yesterday was all about people worrying too much about things that might hurt their children. Today, you've taken the exact opposite tack -- worrying about kids getting cookies. You can't tell me that you worry more about cookies than mercury, do you?

Posted by: Ryan | August 21, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Some of these woman are probably big time dieters and scared to death of anything that might make THEM fat. Let's teach our kids to start dieting from an early age. ROLLING MY EYES

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 01:31 PM

Actually, that is a very good point..some parents don't realize it, but they do push their food issues on children at a young age. Teaching kids good eating habits is good, but making a huge deal over a cookie? Not so good.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

"The thing that gets me is the high risk factor since peanut allergies have such violent reactions and the ease at which those reactions can happen. Again, in the theoretical situation where I need to organize some sort of food event, if I can't know for certain, it's easier for me to just avoid peanuts."

Totally. I would never, ever want someone to lose their child just 'cause I had to put nuts in my cookies. I know the whole argument about personal responsibility, but it seems to me that with young children, asking a community to help out with such a serious allergy is not unreasonable.

Peanut allergies are on the rise, and where my SIL lives (Montreal, Quebec) the rates are insane - 1.5%, as opposed to the North American average of 0.5%. I read a study a while back that linked asthma in parents to peanut allergies in their kids - if that's true, the Great Lakes region would be likely to have more since it's the asthma capital.

Posted by: Shandra | August 21, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Hey fat children are tastier. Heck global warming, ruined economy, waning America, Balkenized America, and our new class system all point to the rich will soon be dinning on poor chubby children.

Wake up! There are real issues to face not cookies and peanuts to prove you are a better parent... golly gee who cares about your entitled spoiled spawn they will do nothing to improve the world

Posted by: Cynic | August 21, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Some of these woman are probably big time dieters and scared to death of anything that might make THEM fat. Let's teach our kids to start dieting from an early age. ROLLING MY EYES

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 01:31 PM


Patrick- not sure if this was directed at me or not. I can tell you I am 30 years old and have never been on a diet. I don't worry about my wieght at all. Believe it or not, my desire to feed my DD healthy foods has basically nothing to do with my fear of fat (I actually don't have a fear of fat). It has more to do with my basic disagreement with the way our cuture treats food- there is little thought or effort made concerning meals and snacks- everything is just fast and easy.

I don't like to eat a lot of preprocessed junk because there's no benefit in eating it- is has no value, and it tastes awful. I don't like the idea of feeding my toddler a bunch of artificial crap because it isn't going to help her grow and develop- she NEEDS the stuff in the healthy foods. And the trend now seems to be toward filling kids up on all kinds of empty calories from carbohydrates without any thought as to making sure they are getting enough vitamins, fiber, protein, and (yes) fat. Maybe I am just anal, but nutrition is important to me. And I want my dd to learn to prepare and enjoy foods, not just scarf down something from a package without any regards to taste or nutrition, just because it's easy.

Posted by: reston, va | August 21, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

"golly gee who cares about your entitled spoiled spawn they will do nothing to improve the world"

and what are you doing? Oh, that's right, you are sitting on your butt on the internet vilifying parents who want to do right by their kids. If you have enough free time to spend commenting on random blogs, maybe YOU should be do something to improve the world. Or do you think making snarky comments to strangers counts?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"golly gee who cares about your entitled spoiled spawn they will do nothing to improve the world"

Actually I wish more parents cared more about their spawn... maybe yours missed the mark there.

Posted by: Shandra | August 21, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: reston, va | August 21, 2007 02:12 PM

No, it was not. it was directed at two types of people, the dieter women and the food police people who think every cookie is bad,every dorito is bad, pizza is bad etc. No one generally eats perfect all the time and kids having an occassional cookie or dorito is not going to harm them.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"Now parents seem to expect the whole world to bow to their kids issues. " Well, 21117; hopefully you will never have a child with a life threatening food allergy. Think about it, a cookie can kill a child with a peanut allergy, you better believe I will take every precaution to protect my daughter. I don't expect anyone but my wife and I to care about my daughter and/or her allergy. What I do expect is to be given information when I ask questions. It's very frustrating to be waved off or ignored when I ask for a list of ingredients, or if anything made with nuts will be at the birthday party/wedding shower/etc. we have been invited to. Let me reitirate this: I am not asking that peanuts be banned from these events; just a listing of what is there so that we know what to avoid. Even this request is too much for some people.

Posted by: ope7189 | August 21, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

NYC = Funny.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Yay healthy snacks! As an adult I am finally forcing myself to eat better and really have found a whole new world of yummy snacks that ARE healthy also.

I don't think cupcakes or cookies or chips at an occasional monthly party is wrong at all.

But when it's a birthday/holiday/sports practice/recognition dinner once a week, then it gets too much. Go healthy!

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | August 21, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

ope- The truth is, most parents would be more than happy to accomodate your daughter at a party, etc. Anyone's who's nasty about it is just a nasty person. On the other hand, kids should be able to eat whatever their parents pack them at school, your daughter included. I think we all grew up with the one kid who was allergic to peanuts. He just ate what he brought. If your child has an allergy so severe that she can't be in the same room as a PB&J, that's a different issue, but most allergies aren't that bad.

Posted by: atb2 | August 21, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

To ope7189 -

This really is a sincere question and I think more people should be educated on allergies :)

How do you and your wife handle your daughters allergy in public situations? I think the schools should notify other parents about a childs severe allergies to things like peanuts or milk but I would think the parents who have allergy free children might slip up (accidentally) every once and a while. And peanuts seem to be in everything so if a parent gave their child something with peanut oil in it and they grabbed your childs hand to run outside -then what?

It seems almost like children with severe allergies (those that can be allergic to peanut dust in the air for instance) are almost condemned to a life of homeschooling. Does the allergy become less severe over time?

Posted by: Wondering | August 21, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I have been thinking about this issue a lot since our 13-month old started eating table food. The nutrition info we got in the mail unsolicited from Gerber & Beech-Nut says that children develop most of their food preferences before age 2 which is why this age is particularly important for offering lots of healthy foods, esp. vegetables and limiting junk food. (Both companies hypocritically sell tons of baby desserts--why on earth would any baby need that?!)

Our problem is that my son's day care offers the same food for all the kids age 1-5, and it's very heavy on the kinds of stuff that unadventurous 5-year-olds like, such as french fries, burgers, pizza, & mac & cheese. I am not worried so much about fat since we're a thin family and my son is so young (although I was not happy to find that he ate french fries), but the heavy rotation of these items that are also easy to make at home and that my husband likes means I need to think of healthier stuff to make for dinner in a hurry.

I am also irked by the proportion of afternoon snack that is cookies & teddy grahams. What kids really need to keep them going in the afternoons is protein, to avoid a sugar crash upon arriving home, so I would prefer if the day care offered more substantial less sweet snacks such as cheese. The principal said they are planning to revamp the menu to make it healthier, so we'll see.

Again the main reason why so much of the day care food bothers us is because of the prospect that it is shaping our son's tastes during this critical window of when he's not (yet) finicky.

Due to allergies and other dietary restrictions with a lot of kids, there are no nut products and no red meat, but it would still be good if there were fewer breaded & fried things and less sugar at snack time. Sugary snacks are especially bad in away-from-home settings like day care where the teachers/chaperones don't have time to brush kids' teeth and the kids are too young to brush their own teeth.

The other problem in day care settings is that some of the favorite snack foods of older preschoolers, such as raisins & popcorn, are choking hazards for kids under age 3.

Posted by: Erichan | August 21, 2007 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to re-post so soon, but I just saw that last question about allergies. My limited understanding is that a lot of food allergies in young children, including nut allergies, can be outgrown but in order to outgrown an allergy it is very important for the allergic child to not be exposed to the allergen. While peanut allergies are not that common, they seem to be getting more prevalent and they are such a bad allergy for kids who have them that my son's pediatrician recommends that no kids under 3 have peanut products, but says tree nut butters are OK at age 1 if there is no family history of allergy. Again, no whole peanuts or tree nuts, allergies or not, to kids under 3 due to the choking hazard.

Posted by: Erichan | August 21, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"What kids really need to keep them going in the afternoons is protein"

When my DD was very little and still napping, I quickly realized that when she ate a good quantity of protein for lunch, she'd take a good nap and wake up happy. If not, she would wake up screaming and be crabby the whole afternoon. I quickly figured out to start giving her meat or cheese with lunch, and to make sure she didn't fill up on too many carbs which just don't have enough staying power. So when I went on preschool visits last spring and saw them giving the kids cookies and juice for their snack, I thought, "Oh, crap." She'll be really happy for about half an hour until the blood sugar wears off!

Posted by: W'burg | August 21, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

At my child's daycare, they brush teeth after lunch, before nap.

Everyone brings their own lunch. Snacks are a good mix of healthful and not-so-healthful items.

Posted by: Wioleta | August 21, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Our allergist has told us that children do not "grow out" of peanut allergies, this is simply a myth. We have switched to a daycare that is peanut free and does not allow any outside food to be brought in. This is very important, as wondering stated parents with allergy free children are not as aware of the dangers and consequences of this allergy and I do not expect them to be; The center provides all food and takes precautions to make sure that items containing peanuts are not present. Exceptions are made for religious purposes and B-day treats, but these items must be prepackaged with a listing of ingredients, no homemade items. We have been very lucky in that it seems her reaction is limited to ingestion, She has been in the same room as items with nuts prior to her diagnosis and did not show any symptoms. Public situations are very stressful and take advance planning, as she gets older the challenges will change, I hate thinking about the sleepover invitations; weekends with friends families, etc, that surely are waiting down the road. We are already looking into the school districts policies and at parochial private schools in our area, even though school is ~4 years down the road

Posted by: ope7189 | August 21, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Think about it, a cookie can kill a child with a peanut allergy, you better believe I will take every precaution to protect my daughter
------

What if the allergy is false and a representation of a neurotic parent's self-obsession, sort of a Munchausen-By-Proxy type neurosis? At what point do you stop paying attention to the parent of the allergic kid who is also the gifted child who is also the star athlete unfairly not let in the game enough byt he awful coach who is also the artistic genius who can play piano at age 4?

Yes, I doubt peanut allergies are real. I might not sign my name to this post, but every "allergy" I ever had I grew out of. bee-stings, cats, pollens, etc. I wasn't supposed to grow out of bee allergies, but I did.

I had three friends in college that became very publicly allergic to "off-gassing carpets," wheat gluten and perfume. Lots of complaints about other people not respecting their "allergy" or "disability." In each case they succumbed to panic attacks or a breakdown and had to leave school. Maybe those experiences made me overly cynical about allergies. My "allergies" were more or less ways to escape doing yardwork at my parents' house and cleaning the litterbox. My friends' allergies were part of a downward spiral into panic attacks.

Obviously not every single person in the entire world uses allergies to mask major or minor mental illness, but I know from personal experience that when someone wants to overcome allergies as an adult they mysteriously overcome allergies. I don't know why that's the case, I only know I've seen it in me, in my wife, in my family, in my friends.

So... peanut allergies. I don't respect them and I pay no attention to the attention-craving parents demanding I change because of their child's allergies. I'm sure some of you will be upset by this post, but by the sheer fact that no one's gotten sick from me yet means that maybe the allergies they claimed were more or less voodoo.

ok, you can flame me now.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

to reston:

I need to lighten up??? I was telling the food police to lighten up - the people who are having a huge cow about their child, who eats a healthy diet for 3 meals and 2 snacks a day, having the occasional less-than-healthy treat or snack.

If your daughter is only 2, then she shouldn't be in a situation where you're not providing her snacks; or if she is, you should be right there saying "I'd prefer she not have that." Your child isn't the demographic we're talking about.

We're talking about school aged children who occasionally will be given the less-than-healthy snack. A child who otherwise eats healthily and gets plenty of exercise will not be adversely affected by a few potato chips or a cookie. That same child will also have a taste for healthy foods because that's what they're given the vast majority of the time. They're not going to become addicted to Koolaid because they have it once a week at preschool. It's not crack, you know.

If you have a problem with the snack policy of your child's school, there's a simple solution. Choose a different school, one that dictates exactly what you may and may not bring.

And just for the record, I'm not the cookie-bringing mom that you all loathe. When it's my turn for snacks, I bring healthy foods. But I also don't have a cow about those who don't because I know that my kids eat healthful foods the other 95% of the time.

Posted by: oldmom | August 21, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

My nephew has severe allegries, to nuts and any kind of dairy food. He has been to the emergency room and his mom and his preschool have epipen for emergencies.

DD age 5 has been learning well from her healthy preschool. Last night I asked her what she wanted for dessert and she said strawberries and cherries. We did have "sweets" in the house but she wanted the real food.

I hope those good habits will guide her into kindergarten next week.

Posted by: shdd | August 21, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

hey, shdd: you'd be surprised. I only have a 5YO too - but really, I hear all the time how kids are SO different when you're not there, and I think it's SO true. They don't want you to know they've been listening, but they really have. They always want to test to see that you say the same thing, I think (i.e., cookies are bad - cookies really are bad...), but they listen better/behave better/eat better, when we're NOT around...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 21, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

"So... peanut allergies. I don't respect them "

My daughter is allergic to wheat. When she eats it, she breaks out in hives all over her body. There is some chance she may outgrow this, but then she may not- we just won't know until she's older. Explain to me how this is a product of my neuroses? Why in the world would I pick this for my kid? Do you have any idea how much I would love for her to just have some animal crackers like all the other kids? Or to be able to play with regular playdough? Or eat someone else's birthday cake?

" I know from personal experience that when someone wants to overcome allergies as an adult they mysteriously overcome allergies. I only know I've seen it in me, in my wife, in my family, in my friends."

And this is representative... how?

Please. Grow up. Seriously.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I know from personal experience that when someone wants to overcome allergies as an adult they mysteriously overcome allergies. I only know I've seen it in me, in my wife, in my family, in my friends."


Why some people perpetuate this old wives tale is beyond me.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Explain to me how this is a product of my neuroses? Why in the world would I pick this for my kid?
----

I know many kids whose parents hand picked disabilities for them. Don't act like it's rare, that's silly. I personally know a mother who convinced the principal her son was autistic so he'd get a free tutor and had to pull him out of public school to get his record switched to "not autistic." She is probably reading this.

I'm not trying to judge YOU- I can't possibly know you- but don't think for a minute that I don't know via my childhood, my mother's teaching career, and my children's friends at least two dozen kids who were told by their parents that they were something that they were not. Or told something was the truth (let's start with an obvious example like racism) when it wasn't. At the beginning of the school year, every year, my mother had a kid with some illness, allergy, affliction, handicap, or learning disability that somehow disappeared by the second week of school.

How many examples could I write before someone believes me? Ok, one kid supposedly was lactose intolerant, violently. He trades for cheese. My mother calls mom, mom freaks out, mom rushes to pick up healthy, happy kid and curses out teacher, kid freaks out and throws up. Same thing happens again. Same thing happens a third time only then my mother pretends she didn't see it happen and the kid is perfectly normal. She never tells the mother, who dutifully packs soy milk every day, that the kid eats cheese and drinks chocolate milk. Kid exhibits zero problems and mother reports zero problems.

Did the kid throw up over the milk or because he thought he was supposed to throw up when his mother told him he was allergic?

But then again, I'm sure I'm the one who has to grow up and my ability to be stung by a bee with minor ill effects is an old wive's tale.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

"DD age 5 has been learning well from her healthy preschool. Last night I asked her what she wanted for dessert and she said strawberries and cherries. We did have "sweets" in the house but she wanted the real food. I hope those good habits will guide her into kindergarten next week. "

So why are you assuming that she's learning those habits from her "healthy preschool"? And if she IS learning them from her "healthy preschool", why on earth is she learning them there and not from you? Are you incapable of teaching her good habits?

This ties in perfectly with the parents who are freaking out over the very few times per week their child eats something that isn't provided by them. It is not the school's responsibility to teach your child good habits - it is YOURS.

Posted by: oldmom | August 21, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

"So... peanut allergies. I don't respect them and I pay no attention to the attention-craving parents demanding I change because of their child's allergies." good for you, the fact thta you choose not to use a name says a lot. Hopefully you will learn what it is like to live with this type of condition in your family

Posted by: ope7189 | August 21, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"I know many kids whose parents hand picked disabilities for them."

I don't understand what you're trying to say. That no child has any kind of allergy or disability? That all these parents are just making this up for attention? Let's just say you're right, that a bunch of parents ARE making this up. What about all the families whose children really do have life-threatening allergies? You are basically saying that all parents who have a child with ANY special need are suspect, and are likely just neurotics who are using their children to get attention.

I have heard stories about people with attitudes like this before. Usually they take it upon themselves to "prove" that the allergy is fake by secretly sneaking some of the allergen into someone else's food. Of course, this usually ends up somebody getting sick or going to the ER.

Are there parents who make stuff up? Probably. But how are YOU going to tell them apart from all the normal parents who just got some bad luck? And unless you somehow *can* tell, by lumping everyone together you are spiting in the face of a lot of parents for no reason.

I sincerely hope that you never have a child with any kind of "special" need.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 21, 2007 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I had problems as a kid because I had a milk sensitivity AND I hated it straight up (I still enjoy my cereal perfectly dry). I'd get lots of questions and dirty looks from the cafeteria ladies when I'd go ahead and eat ice cream and have cheese pizza, but never get the yucky white or chocolate milk in the cartons. Not very nice to do to a 8 yo who doesn't even understand herself exactly why she can't drink milk straight and is a picky eater.

I do think a lot of parents are over sensitive, I do think the allergy issue is becoming an epidemic and I have no idea why.

But I also think there's only so much reasonable cooperation you can expect from the outside world before it becomes interfering and gives way to entitlement. They aren't responsible for making sure your kids special needs are taken care of- but I think most people want to help others and have everyone enjoy what they can.

Posted by: Liz D | August 22, 2007 1:09 AM | Report abuse

To flamebait: "Yes, I doubt peanut allergies are real. I might not sign my name to this post, but every "allergy" I ever had I grew out of. bee-stings, cats, pollens, etc. I wasn't supposed to grow out of bee allergies, but I did."

Riiiight. A good friend of mine growing up had an extreme (scary-rare) peanut allergy. I'd like to know how someone can fake their throat closing up and hives, please? In middle school, some kids (maybe kids like your kids, if you're teaching them this drivel) put a peanut in his locker as a prank, because it couldn't really hurt him, right? He brushed it without even knowing it was there and ended up in the ER. Found out about it later because the kids were bragging.

His mom is a nurse, he lived an (otherwise) mostly healthy childhood, and his folks really tried to minimize how his allergies affected him (he had others, peanut was the most severe). It still played hell with his social life (he was "the weird kid who can't have peanuts," he had to be careful in restaurants, had to leave parties if there were peanuts out, etc) and has given him and his whole family several bad scares.

I have another friend who has two sons, a toddler and a baby. The baby had a rash for months, the doctor couldn't figure out why and they tried neutral soaps, lots of neutral skin lotion in case it was just dry skin, and anything else under the sun. We're talking raw, oozing skin, and occasional digestive issues to boot. Finally got an allergist's appointment and found out he reacts to peanuts and milk. Cut both from his diet, and he's not perfect but a hell of a lot better. All this went on while her husband was out of a job, and she worried herself sick about how they would schedule & afford specialists' appointments and prescriptions. And you have the nerve to suggest that she was faking it for some sick enjoyment?

Posted by: Three of Five | August 22, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Part of the frustration parents have about restricted snacks sometimes comes from poorly communicated and/or illogical policies. My sense is that the overwhelming number of parents are willing to make reasonable accomodations to insure the safety of all the students in their children's schools.

This year, we received a "safe snack" list for our child's school. It excluded foods containing peanuts and tree nuts. I assume this applies to snacks sent to be eaten in the classroom, not lunches to be eaten in the cafeteria, though this was not explicitly stated. At a spring orientation, the principal described the separate table set-up in the cafeteria.

The "safe snack" list also excluded foods containing any milk products (milk, yogurt, cheese, some crackers, some pretzles). The list that appeared in the Student Handbook appeared to have been cut and pasted from a list submitted by a parent. It was poorly edited: "We can provide frozen fruit. . .we will supply a safe bagel, etc." This suggests to me that we have one student with severe dairy allergy. This list is being applied to ALL classrooms. I can understand banning peanut products. This allergy is more prevalent than it used to be, and severe reactions in many allergic persons can be triggered by skin exposure.

My understanding is that there is a lot of misunderstanding of dairy allergy vs. lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is not life-threatening. A true milk allergy can be but except in very rare cases, the milk would only cause a severe reaction if ingested. Most persons truly allergic to milk would not go into anaphylactic shock from casual exposure (i.e., skin contact).

In this case, it appears that there is one child in the school who would be endangered by casual exposure. ALL classrooms are being asked to follow dairy restrictions, yet the dairy restrictions are not being applied to the cafeteria. I don't understand the reasoning behind this. How will dairy present in a classroom other than this one child's endanger him more than dairy present in the cafeteria?

It seems that a lot of parents are jumping through hoops without good reason in this case. Basically, protein sources (other than meat) are being eliminated as options for snacks at this school. I'll go ahead and use the opportunity to get a fruit/veg serving into my child's diet. However, if the idea behind snack is to give the children some staying power to help them make it to lunch, it's a shame not to be able to include some yogurt or cheese. I'm not that interested in giving the empty calorie carbs as a stand-alone morning snack.

Posted by: marian | August 23, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Hi Marian -

What age range are you speaking to at your child's school? I'm curious is part of the recommendation is that it covers younger children who are less likely to concept their allergy and want to eat their friends food because its different/cool/looks good/tastes good and the school is trying to get around it by banning it all together.

Like you said not all milk allergies are severe like peanuts (I'm actually allergic to milk - makes my body look like hive city) but I can be around milk, touch milk, smell milk without a reaction. Not the same for peanut or other nut allergies.

Posted by: noname1 | August 23, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

noname--

This school has children from grades 2-5. I'm not sure what age the child(ren?) with milk allergy is (are?). One thing that confuses me is that it seems to be ok for kids to bring milk products for lunch in the cafeteria but not to any classroom for snack. I could see not having the offending food in the classroom of the affected child. It could be that the child(ren) with the most extreme allergy doesn't (don't) even eat in the cafeteria. It could also be that there is a monitor closely supervising the "allergy table." I would think that a second grader with an allergy would have enough understanding to follow the rules about not eating another child's food but can understand not trusting him to do so when the stakes are so high. Again, why the other classrooms?

I don't know the numbers of children of elementary school age affected by true milk allergy (not lactose intolerance). My understanding is than many children with milk allergy (approx. 60%) outgrow the allergy by age 6, 80% by age 8. This just seems overkill to apply the dairy ban to all classrooms. Peanut allergies seem more prevalent and more extreme in terms of non-ingesting contact.

I realize that I posted without all the facts, but I do see a problem with how this school is communicating and wouldn't be surprised if the same problems with communication exist in other schools. I think even more parents would be understanding and compassionate if schools took the role of educating us more thoroughly when imposing what might seem on the surface to be overreaching rules made to avoid liability/inconvenience to school staff.

Posted by: marian | August 23, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Yes the cafeteria versus no cafeteria does seem to be odd. And I think that better education is definately called for especially since there are parents like the anonomyous person above that was convinced allergies were caused by neurotic parents and kids would outgrow them.

Interestingly I had lunch with a co-worker who said her son's elementary school has a floor dedicated to children with peanut allergies and I believe covers k-5 students. There are signs posted as you enter the floor that this is a peanut free zone etc.

Posted by: noname1 | August 23, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse


Okay...all allergies are fake, right? So i guess the labs and allergists are all in on that? B/c I have photos of severe reactions to allergist administered skin tests and RAST blood test results that show class V allergies.

The truth is that you just can't understand unless your kid has life threatening allergies and you have to deal with it on a daily basis. I didn't.

BTW - Healthway is a great place to shop for gluten [wheat]free snacks and flours and stuff. I can give specifics if anyone is interested. Plus if you tell them it is for a gluten free diet, they give a 10% discount.

Posted by: dbsaywhat | August 23, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

dbsaywhat - not sure if you are reffering to my post since it was right before yours but I didn't say allergies were fake. My reference was to some other nut who claimed 2 days ago that allergies were fake.

Posted by: noname1 | August 23, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

I long for the days when my kids attended daycare (which also had a private school up to sixth grade) that prepared, cooked, and served only organic vegetarian food. To this day, they still ask for one of the schools staples, baked tofu!

Posted by: DadofTwo | August 23, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Why has it been 3 days since this blog was updated?

Posted by: Anonymous | August 24, 2007 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I am very conscious about what my children eat. We do whole grains, fruit, protein veggies etc. The day care always gave a list of approved snacks - cereals (whole grain) goldfish, etc. BUT, the elementary schools have gone even further. For class parties, parents are no longer allowed to send in sweet snacks. Also, they have implemented a "no cupcake" policy for birthdays. I think this is going too far. I think ruling out all sweets is overcompensating and that there are appropriate times for sweets. Cupcakes for the birthday. That is a time honored tradition. Carrot sticks just don't seem to have the same effect.

Posted by: Fromer NoVA Mom | August 24, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

So peanut allergies aren't real? I'm so excited! Now I can go tell the parents of the girl in my high school who died from her peanut allergy that she is secretly alive somewhere. Maybe she was spirited off to a desert island by the pretzel lobby?

Posted by: acorn | August 24, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Marian,

Can I ask if this is a public or private school? My DD has allergies, and I actualy worry a bit that the school I send her to will have too many restrictions on what she can eat. She's allergic to wheat and eggs (and I am currently suspecting tomatoes as well), and if the school told me they won't let her have dairy, either, that would be a real problem.

That's one of the problems with banning certain foods from schools- at some point it becomes too much to ask of the other students and their families. I certainly would never try to get wheat banend from my dd's school (can you imagine?) though I do think that asking the kids to wash their hands after lunch, assuming the allergy is severe, is a reasonable accomodation.

Posted by: va | August 24, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Every good parent wants the best for their kids, and to protect them from anything (and everything) harmful. I'd like to suggest that some prudence and judgement is necessary.

Our goal is to raise children who grow up to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted and productive adults - and for them to have a good childhood in the process. Part of that is developing a healthy attitude to food. Having raised a child who developed an eating disorder as a teenager (and is, blessedly, pretty much over it now), I can say with confidence that a "healthy attitude" means more than just eating healthy food. In fact, an undue concern about food can be damaging.

Some of our relatives are quite heavy - that's not something I want for my children. But I've seen a teen obsess over weight and eating, and rapidly drop down to an unhealthy weight - and become obsessed about eating only the "right" food in the process. Frankly, I'd rather have a pudgy child who's happy and well adjusted than a skinny one who's miserable about himself or herself.

Are too many cookies bad? Absolutely. Will the occassional cookie seriously harm a child? No. Is obsessing over what you eat healthy? No.

I really, really wish that people would understand that adults who place tremendous stress on "only eat this, don't eat that, and don't even bring that in the building" food decisions are contributing to the eating disorders of other people's children just as surely as a parent running down a school hallway flinging peanut products around would contribute to the allergies of other parents.

Posted by: Older Dad | August 24, 2007 4:25 PM | Report abuse

New to this blog. Had no food allergies in my family. My husband has many food allergies, but he basically ignored them until a few years ago when he decided to get healthy. Avoiding those foods has made a tremendous difference in his life. One of our two children has mild food allergies (peanut is one). So when the next child came along, I was careful to avoid all peanut products during pregnancy and breastfeeding. He had a RAST test as a baby because he was so rashy, and he tested positive for peanut. I figured it was like his sibling, a little rash at most if he ate them, but I never gave him any. Fast forward to age three, he accidentally eats one tiny bite of hummus in which a friend substituted peanut butter for tahini. We had to rush him to the doctor because he couldn't breathe. He was vomiting and gurgling (and we gave him Benadryl before we left). Most frightening experience of my life! Don't know why so many allergies, so many theories out there. I'm just glad we homeschool. It is one less thing to worry about with the food. Not the first reason for this educational choice, but a side benefit is no junky food from teachers or other parents. Our preschool experience taught us that a school might have a healthy food policy, but that some parents do not know what healthy food is. I don't consider blue fruit snacks to be food, but some parents do. Same for blue artificial drink.

We eat whole foods and even grind our own wheat for bread. We feel so much healthier than when we ate processed food. We do eat some junk occasionally, but no food dye. We also belong to two food co-ops, which helps us to find healthy food products that are not so easy to find in the grocery stores.

Thank you for the thought provoking post.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2007 1:39 AM | Report abuse

"They're not going to become addicted to Koolaid because they have it once a week at preschool. It's not crack, you know."

Did you know that stuff actually dyes your insides? True story- lots of people use koolaid as fabric dye- it's that permanent. I can't believe anything like that is really safe to consume, no matter what the FDA says. I'd rather give my kid almost anything than that junk.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 25, 2007 7:40 PM | Report abuse

I believe Doritos have MSG in them as well ( which makes people a little crazy..) I am also under the impression that there are @ 10,000 food additives that do not "have" to be declared on the ingredient list- is that an urban myth? And the "No Trans Fat" thing is a big fat lie - it turns out - and this one I checked with Nabisco- that if a package states "No trans fat" then that is what it means. If the label reads "0g trans fat" than it can still contain up to .49%. This is b/c the company is allowed to round down instead of up on their numbers. Not a large amount BUT when I see no trans fat I think none. If it feels like a lie and it looks like a lie....

Posted by: sp | August 27, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Late on this-- I think it can be pretty silly what people get angry at. Snacks? Kids having a little bit of fun? When I did my first team snack for my first-born I went all out on healthy. The parents laughed at me and said there's no way they were going to follow my lead -- too much work. Should I have gotten angry? Several years and lots and lots of snack days later I don't put that much into it. I tend to splurg on real juice but I get stuff the kids like to eat. They've worked hard and they've earn it.

The same is true of birthdays. Should I get mad at a mom for serving birthday cake? Bringing cookies to school? We're going to be spending years with the same folk and it's nice to relax and get along. You have plenty of control over what your kids eat. Lighten up on trying to control everyone around you.

My youngest is a serious athlete and by now we don't do team snacks. I prefer grapes to orange slices -- better energy source, less acid to harm the skin in the hot sun and less mess. I'm very particular about how she eats before a game and especially tournaments where she plays multiple games in a day. But at the end of the day, she's welcome to pig out on whatever she wishes.

Joy often comes in small packages -- why are we so intent on killing it?

Posted by: free bird | August 27, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Maybe "angry" was only a bad word choice, but if anyone actually gets angry over snacks at school rather than merely annoyed, they should get some perspective, save their anger for something more deserving.

Kids won't turn into winded pudgeballs if their every snack isn't certified organic broccoli florets grown with extra special love by a farmer who read poetry to his crop. A parent who has ever described an Oreo as "toxic" needs to take a deep breath.

It seems like such a parent, if he or she acts similarly in other situations, might convey to their offspring, intentionally or not, the notion that the world is not an array of opportunities and pleasures to explore, but a collection of threats against which one must be perpetually on guard.

Where is the border between showing reasonable concern for a healthy diet and being a holier-than-thou PC food Nazi? Discuss.

Posted by: H20 Girl | August 27, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

All-organic mamma needs something else to do with her time. Sounds like she has a giant stick up her, um, nose. Sunchips, Wheat Thins, Baked Lays etc. are all easy to transport and few are allergic. Cubes cheese and lunch meat rolls, oatmeal cookies, low-fat choc. milk or sports drink are other ideas with few refraining. Helicopter parents with snotty attitudes are a pain - please go form your own teams and leagues. I note from my Honda Fit (40 MPG hiway) that many of you arrive loaded with your yam slices and gummy homemade granola in huge SUVs. Have fun eating spinach in a smog haze...

Posted by: No Birkenstocks | August 27, 2007 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the parents should provide healthier snack choices, however, from the teacher's perspective, they're probably glad that the parents are involved and sending anything at all.

Posted by: marhwv | August 30, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure no one is reading this one anymore, but just in case, check it out:

Certain artificial food colorings and other additives can worsen hyperactive behaviors in children aged 3 to 9, British researchers reported on Wednesday.

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=healthNews&storyID=2007-09-05T223234Z_01_N05201032_RTRUKOC_0_US-HYPERACTIVITY-FOOD.xml&pageNumber=0&imageid=&cap=&sz=13&WTModLoc=NewsArt-C1-ArticlePage2

I don't worry nearly so much about fat and sugar as about this crap. I know plenty of stories about children who have reactions to all these chemicals- my DH was considered severely hyperactive until a doctor suggested to my MIL that she stop feeding him anything with any artificial coloring, and within a week he was like a different kid (not sure why she thought it was a good idea to give him this stuff in the first place, but that's a different story).

Posted by: va | September 5, 2007 10:47 PM | Report abuse

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