I was really interested to discover a fantastic blog, by a nine year old British schoolgirl, Neverseconds. She’s been taking photos of her school dinners and posting them onto her blog. As someone with a passionate interest in nutrition, but no children, this is such an interesting insight. The blog obviously isn't written from a Paleo standpoint, but it is very interesting to gauge just how far away school dinners are from (what I would deem) optimal.
Images from NeverSeconds
For young children, good nutrition is absolutely crucial; they are growing and more importantly their brains are still developing. It’s becoming accepted that fat is extremely important in the nutrition of children; yet these lunches are clearly following the outdated low-fat “wisdom”. I find it concerning that young children eat their dinner staring at a big “LOW FAT” label, such as on the yoghurt. Even subconsciously this will lead to a long, deep held belief that fat must be avoided. As well as fat, the dinners look to be very low in protein too.
I also find the amount of refined carbohydrates concerning. After lunch the children will have grossly elevated blood sugar levels – leading to a crash probably during their next lesson. A crash in blood sugar levels isn't conducive to concentration and alertness!
There are so many processed foods, very little looks entirely home-made (perhaps just reheated). When cooking for large numbers as in a school setting, it should be perfectly possible to cook nutritious lunches from scratch, using local produce, on a budget.
Surely good nutrition should be easy with children? They don’t have a choice and aren't in the position to research and understand about nutrition in the same way adults are. What they eat as a child is likely to set their eating behaviours for life. It is so sad to see how these children are fed, by the very people who should be setting them up with good nutrition.
Do you have school aged children? I’d love to hear what the rules are at their schools – and what they are served. Are you able to insist your child eats Paleo at lunchtimes? How do you navigate a Paleo child and a conventional wisdom school lunch menu?