Aug. 26, 2011

When I started this blog I was excited about the prospect of sharing what I do with lunches and using the blog as a platform to share what I've learned about food and nutrition especially as it relates to children. However, I had no idea what the response would be, if any, to a blog like this. I hoped it would be well received and that readers wouldn't think I was out of my mind.

Now I watch the statistics on my site and am continually amazed by the number of people from around the world that read the blog. It's so encouraging to me knowing there are parents out there who desire more for their kids when it comes to school lunches and that more and more people are beginning to understand just how much the quality of food we feed our children affects their mood, behavior and overall health.

I love that with site statistic programs I'm able to see when other bloggers link my site to theirs. I've been pleasantly surprised by the enthusiastic response to my blog, but just as I suspected there are a few naysayers out there who don't share the love. People have commented with things like,"She's teaching her kids to play with their food." or "She's overindulging her kids and their expectations when it comes to food are going to be way too high." or one of my all-time personal favorites..."She must not have a job and has WAY too much time on her hands!". While a little hard to swallow I do my best not to let those comments deter me from doing what I do here on This Lunch Rox. Here's why:

As a working mother of two young boys I find I have very little time to do something I love. Some moms find creative outlets in projects like scrapbooking, quilting, card-making, beading or other activities. Making and preparing creative lunches for my boys happens to be my passion and it's an activity that makes me truly happy. In the book,The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin writeshappiness research predicts that making time for a passion and treating it as a real priority instead of an extra to be fit in at a free moment (which many people practically never have) will bring a tremendous happiness boost. I couldn't agree with her more. Working on these lunches brings me so much joy and allows me (a person who rarely makes time for myself) a chance to do something I love! There is something gratifying about taking making the time for myself to do something that I love and that is so important to me. If you go back and read this post I go into much more detail about the alarming statistics regarding the health of the children today in the United States which is added incentive for me to continue doing what I do.

The reality is this...my lunch creations serve as my creative outlet all while fulfilling my desire to nourish my children with healthy foods. In the beginning, it was a way for me to entice my kids to choose cold lunch over the greasy, syrupy, sugar-filled trays they were tempted with on a daily basis at school. Over time this has grown into a hobby for me and I find a lot of joy in planning & creating fun lunches.

That being said, I want to take this moment to answer a few frequently asked questions and respond to some of the comments I've read on-line:

1) Do I make lunches like this every day? NO! There are plenty of days when my kids have what I call "quick and easy" lunches. I usually make a specialty lunch 2-3 times per week (sometimes less) depending on my schedule. Here are a few quick and easy lunches I've thrown together on busy mornings...I'm going to try to post more of these types of lunches throughout the school year so stay tuned.

2)Are you or anyone in your family gluten-free? Nobody in my family has an allergy or sensitivity to gluten, but I do limit the amount of gluten we consume on a daily basis. Over the years our society is consuming an extraordinary amount of wheat. The average American consumes appx 67% of their calories from just THREE foods...corn, soy and wheat. To put this in perspective, the caloric intake from these ingredients by our ancestors ranged somewhere between 1-5%. My kids do love sandwiches on wheat and lavash bread so, considering that most of the convenient, pre-packaged foods contain some derivative of corn, soy and wheat (high fructose corn syrup, corn oil, wheat flour, soy protein, etc...), I try to avoid those as much as possible to keep the percentage of calories consumed from corn, soy and wheat more in line with our ancestors than today's average American. If you are interested in this topic you can read morehere.

3) Do the lunches you make really stay together by the time lunch rolls around? Not always. In the beginning we had a lot of failed attempts! The lunches were still edible but there was very little resemblance to what we started with in the morning. After a lot of trial and error I've found some strategies that work really well keeping the lunch in place until lunch time. If you readthis post you'll see how I was using toothpicks to hold sandwiches together and placing a folded napkin over the entire lunch to keep things from shifting. Since then I've found mini cookie sticks which I think will work really well holding pieces together (you may have to cut them down to fit in the lunch box, but with a strong pair of scissors or wire cutters that shouldn't be a problem).

4) Do you work? I can't imagine having the time to make these kinds of lunches?! Yes. I have not one job, but THREE! I own two small businesses that I operate with my husband and a VERY lean staff along with a business consulting job. I do a fair amount of traveling with my job(s) which means I have to be diligent with grocery and meal planning. Like I said earlier, this really isn't about taking the time to do what I love...it's making the time.Here's me doing my thing outside of the kitchen:

5) Do your kids really eat what you put in the lunch boxes or do you end up throwing a lot of it away. My kids DO eat most of every lunch I send with them. Occasionally they get distracted during lunch and they leave some behind, but my growing boys like to eat so that doesn't happen often. Because I want my kids filled with foods to sustain them for the rest of the school day I try never to include foods that I know they won't eat in their lunch boxes. I will say that when we first transitioned from our old eating habits getting my kids to try new foods was a bit of a challenge. You can read this post where I explain some tactics I used to encourage them to try new foods. I'll be the first to admit that this transition wasn't easy, but it was worth all the effort and then some!

6) Are you worried that you are teaching your kids that food is a toy and not food? Not at all. I try not to take myself too seriously when it comes to these lunches...it's just me having fun and giving my boys something to smile about during the day. However, it is my hope is that by doing this my children will grow to be mindful eaters. You can read more on Mindful Eating in this article. The basic idea is that there are benefits for those who eat with all 5 senses. In this hurried world it does pay off to look, notice and taste food rather than just mindlessly consuming it. Creating fun lunches for them and using a variety of colors with fruits and vegetables will hopefully encourage them to stop and notice the food they are about to eat.

AuthorShauna Niequist writes in her book "Cold Tangerines", "...feeding the people I love is a hands-on way of loving them. When you nourish and sustain someone, essentially you are saying that you want them to thrive, to be happy and healthy and able to live well." Those words really hit home for me and helped me understand that what I'm doing goes beyond just putting a cute lunch in a box. So, with that I'd like to say a big thank you to all of you who continue reading my blog. I'm looking forward to another year of fun lunches here on This Lunch Rox.

Oh, and don't forget to enter the Sheer Addiction Jewelry Giveaway if you haven't already! You can also find a $10 coupon code to her on-line store in that post!

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