With the onset of a new school year, it was time to start thinking about establishing healthy school-time routines especially in the area of nutrition. After dining on cold cereal and pop corn all summer, it was time to reacquaint my kids with foods that don't come with toys or have cartoon characters on the back of the box-or for that matter, foods that don't even come in a box.
Upon preparing to enter the seventh grade, my daughter announced that she wanted to pack a lunch to school. After toting a lunchbox all through grade school, I thought she would be ready for school lunch. Then she told me what she wanted to have in her lunch. Together, the items she requested for her lunchtime menu had all the nutritional value of a screwdriver.
Encouraging my kids to consume a healthy diet has been particularly challenging to me because I can't exactly lead by example. The "do as I say not as I do" command lost its effectiveness long before I had the opportunity to use it. I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. My kids are aware that I regularly go running or cycling because they insist that I hose myself down and pass through a decontamination chamber before entering the house after a workout. While my diet is pretty nutritious, my mouth doesn't exactly water at the prospect of a veggie burger with a side of tofu. And I do my best not to get within 10 miles of steamed broccoli.
Over the course of six years, I've gone the rounds with my oldest daughter about eating at least some of the lunch I packed. I tried threats, bribes, and episodes of getting on my knees and begging. Each day her lunch was either completely untouched or looked like she used her lunch box as a footstool with its initial contents mangled beyond recognition. Nothing worked. She either starved herself during lunch or graciously accepted handouts from her classmates. I was ready to give up. However, in order to prevent myself from being added to the guest list of child protective services for starving my children, I still made sure my daughter had a nutritious sack lunch in her backpack each morning. I even ended all discussion about whether she ate her lunch or not.
Eventually she started to soften. I started seeing partially eaten sandwiches and fewer carrots in her lunch box after school. I wouldn't say that I'm the suspicious type, but my daughter's dentist would because I showed up at his office with a half-eaten sandwich to have him confirm that the bite marks were actually my daughter's. He also thinks I'm a little strange.
Through all the arguing, tantrums, and threatening to hold my breath until I turned blue, it turned out that patience and letting my daughter make her own decisions worked the best. This doesn't mean that following a nutritious diet is no longer an issue, but we have made great progress. I think as long as I silently maintain a healthy lifestyle (and don't get caught snitching the multi-colored cereals), the kids might just catch on and make a healthy choice.
David Jensen is a freelance writer with expertise in article marketing, copy writing, journalism, press releases, and employment. To see more of his credentials and services, visit [http://www.ascensionwriting.com]