There is nothing more frustrating for a parent than to spend time packing a healthy lunch for your child to find that it comes back home untouched. There are several common reasons why your child might not be eating lunch at school.
- Your child doesn’t like the foods you are packing. Your job as a parent is to provide a balanced and nutritious meal for your child. If you are choosing foods your child doesn’t like, however, those healthy foods aren’t doing much good. Ask four your child’s feedback when packing lunch. If he or she doesn’t like carrots, perhaps there is another vegetable that would be more acceptable. Bring your child to the grocery store and let him or her have input into the nutritious foods that are provided.
- Your child doesn’t have enough time to eat. The lunch break at many schools is only 20 minutes, which may not be enough time for some kids to finish their meal. It is easy to get distracted and spend the time chatting with friends rather than eating. You can help your child by packing bite sized foods that are easy to eat. In addition, be sure the lunchboxes containers and food packages are easy to open. When recess is right after lunch, your child may be rushing through lunch in order to get outside to play. Some schools have switched to scheduling recess before lunch and have found that this results in kids eating more.
- Your child isn’t hungry. You may be packing serving sizes that seem appropriate, but kids have smaller stomachs and don’t need to eat as much as adults do. Rather than a full sandwich, a half sandwich might be more realistic. Ask your child to help pack the lunch and have input into the amount of food that is provided. Food that is left over from lunch can be saved for an afternoon snack.
Don’t be too worried if your child doesn’t seem to have a big appetite at lunch time. Be sure to offer a nutritious breakfast, after school snack and dinner to ensure that your child is getting all the nutrients he or she needs. Remember to keep offering balanced meals, and when your child is hungry or going through a growth spurt, he or she will eat. If you have concerns about your child’s growth, reach out to a Registered Dietitian or your child’s physician for more suggestions. �