Updated: Oct 6, 2021
Before diving in, I want to note that what I’m sharing is my way based on my beliefs and experiences (which are subject to change!). That doesn’t make it the right way and this is not meant to shame others who have a different way. We are all doing the best that we can with the tools that we have!
So…someone asked me recently why I put “Oreos” in my kids’ lunchbox.
1. The Public School Dilemma
My kids go to public school where everyone brings a different lunch or they get the school lunch (with a side of chocolate milk).
Rather than have them covet the treats they see other kids bring to school, I put a “healthy” treat in their lunch box. Things like Annie’s Organic “Oreos,” mini chocolate chips, or dried fruit.
2. Processed foods aren’t going anywhere.
In general, I don’t believe kids need or should have a lot of processed snacks or added sugar. But my kids will encounter these things when I’m not around (at friend’s houses, in college, when they’re adults), and I see it as my responsibility to help them understand how to consume processed foods and sweets responsibly.
I encourage them to listen to their bodies. I encourage them to eat the Oreos AND all the other whole foods in their lunchbox (for the record, their lunchboxes come home empty 99% of the time).
3. You Ban it, they want it.
I believe that if you ban something completely, most kids will just want that thing more. By saying "no, you can never have it," you're basically putting that food on a pedestal.
This was my experience growing up. I wasn’t allowed a lot of soda (candy, etc.) and then I went NUTS for Diet Coke and junk food in college. 😂
4. Teaching Mindful Eating
As someone who has had an eating disorder and had a lot of disordered eating in my 20’s and early 30’s, I don’t want my kids feeling like they can’t have something because it will make them sick/fat/ugly/fill in the blank.
I want them to understand what’s good for their bodies and how their bodies feel after consuming something. I want them to grasp the concept of moderation and balance.
I believe that if we can help our kids develop a healthy relationship with the “bad stuff,” then we are setting them up for more positive eating behaviors down the road.
Now…I am NOT perfect at this. Have I bribed my kids with treats before? Yes. Have I let them gorge themselves on candy? At least once. Have we had ice cream multiple summer days in one week? Absolutely.
But in general, they request blueberries with yogurt and honey as a desert. They eat carrots and hummus as an appetizer before dinner. And sometimes they’ll even give me back a piece of cookie if it’s too much. They’re learning.
And that’s why I put “Oreos” in my kid’s lunchbox. To help them learn.
Curious to hear alllll your thoughts in the comments below! 👇