Category Archives: food

9 Strategies Guaranteed to Save Your School Lunch Sanity

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I can’t think of anything worse than making school lunches. Oh, wait. I can. Opening my kid’s lunchbox at the end of the day when the ice pack is lukewarm to discover he ate nothing. NOTHING. And all of it has to be tossed. ALL. OF. IT. Yeah, that’s worse.

I get it. The cafeteria is loud and overwhelming. There’s a lot of activity and socializing happening. It’s easy to forget how quickly 30 minutes pass.  I can totally relate to forgetting to eat.

Hold up. That’s crap. I can relate to forgetting a lot of things, like where my glasses are (on my face) or why I walk into a room (I have no clue), but I never forget to eat. Ever.

My child’s refusal to eat his lunch at school could send me to an early grave…if I let it. But there’s too much to live for, including the second season of “Stranger Things.”

If you have a school lunch pain in the butt abstainer like I do, you’re going to need a better plan than mindful breathing and a stiff cocktail to survive the year, which is why I’ve devised nine strategies guaranteed (maybe) to save (or squash) your school lunch sanity.

1. Make your kid buy lunch. I don’t know about your school, but I’ve seen the taco meat in my kid’s cafeteria and I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Not even my (ex) pediatrician who asked me if I was pregnant again six months after giving birth to my second child because I didn’t lose the baby weight fast enough for his taste. (Perhaps I’d wish it on him.) After a few days of this tough love, your kid will beg you to make him a turkey sandwich. He might even take a few bites.

2. Don’t pack a lunch. He’s not going to eat it anyway, so why waste your time, energy, money, food, and valuable hot coffee drinking time. Feed him a hearty breakfast and an early dinner and trust that his body can sustain itself from the giant bowl of Goldfish, three bags of fruit snacks, and four waffles he ate right before bed the night before.

3. Let your kid pack his own lunch. Don’t helicopter this one, Mom. Let your kid learn some new skills and appreciate the effort you put into this daily shit show. Independence is golden (until your kid prepares himself a bowl of microwave popcorn for breakfast). This is a great idea if you’re not a morning person and don’t mind if your kid packs cookies, chocolate bars, and stale candy from deep in the pantry from last Halloween for lunch.

4. Pack the foods you want your kid to eat. You know, sliced banana and sun butter sushi rolls, white bean hummus and quinoa chips, mixed berries, and lightly salted edamame. Be sure to put an extra ice pack in there so it’s still cold when it comes home untouched.

5. Ask your kid what he wants to eat for lunch. See #3.

6. Pack what your kid will actually eat for lunch. Also see #3.

7. Bribe him. Remind him to look for the knock knock joke, spider ring, and Lego minifigure you hid in his lunchbox next to the sliced seedless watermelon, Kefir smoothie, and American cheese sandwich on whole wheat crustless bread.

8. Make threats. Some parents pack notes in their kid’s lunches that say things like, “I hope you’re having a great day!” or “Good luck on your fractions quiz!” My lunch notes say things like, “Eat your effing lunch!” and “Eat or I’ll tell Santa!”

9. Compromise. I’ll pack popcorn if you eat your cheese squares and crackers. I’ll make you a peanut butter sandwich if you promise not to sit at the nut-free table in the cafeteria. We’ll bake homemade brownies after school if you eat your grapes. I promise not to run out the back door never to be seen again when you refuse to eat the bagel and berry cream cheese I packed for lunch if you promise not to beg for a bagel and berry cream cheese for dinner. I won’t drop you off in an extra-large basket at our local fire station if you throw your half-eaten yogurt tube in the garbage instead of leaving it in your lunch box to become a sticky, strawberry crime scene that has to be hosed down in the backyard. Deal?

If all else fails, ring the dinner bell as soon as you get home from school so you can fight over how many bites of chicken your kid has to eat before he can have a snack. Hang in there. There are only nine more months until summer vacation when you will still have to make lunches every day.

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Filed under food, school

When My Kids Wanted to Drink Soda, I Said Yes

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I have two children with sensory processing differences. Both are picky eaters. Both are sensory picky eaters. One is a severe sensory picky eater. Certain tastes, textures, and smells are deal breakers. Entire food groups are off the table.

Mealtime at home is tricky. Elsewhere – at school, camp, birthday parties, sleepovers, and vacations – it’s grueling. I am that mom and my kids are those kids, and it breaks my heart.

They’ll grow out of it.

I hear this a lot. Sometimes, it’s from well-meaning people who don’t know what else to say. Other times, it’s from parents who have stood in my uncomfortable shoes. I hold on to their optimism as my kids quickly approach the upper age limit on children’s menu items and gain more independence in their social lives.

I do my best to make sure my kids eat as healthy as possible within their limitations, and I encourage (but not force) them to explore new foods whenever possible. I say yes to whatever they want to try because I never want them to say no out of fear, and I’m not just talking about food.

Perfect parents need not read any further.

If my kids asked to try a Happy Meal, I would drive to McDonald’s in the middle of the night.

If my kids asked to try pizza, I’d have it delivered for breakfast.

If my kids asked to try a Slurpee, I’d say, “What flavor?”

When we eat out, I ask my kids if they want soda with their plain spaghetti no sauce, no butter, no oil with parmesan cheese on the side in case it tastes like the inside of a balloon.

I don’t want them to drink soda, but I want them try soda. I want them to know what an ice cold Coca-Cola tastes like, and I want them to know if they’re on Team Pepsi or Team Coke. But they never want it.

When my kids unexpectedly told me they wanted to try Mountain Dew, I was suspect. The thing about having picky eaters is that excitement and disappointment go hand in hand. It’s hard not to be enthusiastic about the potential to add a new food to their diet, but it’s equally difficult to anticipate the disappointment of “I don’t like it” that comes 99.3% of the time.

Their curiosity for the carbonated beverage came from an unfortunate infatuation with the YouTube sensation, Pink Sheep. Despite the annoying inspiration, when new food requests surface, I listen. At the grocery store, I bought strawberries, grapes, bananas, and a liter of Mountain Dew because a mom can dream.

All afternoon, my boys said they couldn’t wait to try Mountain Dew…later or in a while or tomorrow.

They were scared. “Why wait? Let’s do it!”

I alleviated their anxiety. “Mountain Dew is sweet and fizzy. It will make your tongues feel funny, but it’s okay.”

I threw in some healthy eating advocacy for good measure.  “Soda is fun to drink but it won’t fuel your body and brain, and it won’t make you healthy and strong. If you like it, you can drink it sometimes but not all the time.”

I put ice in two glasses and warned them of the hissing sound they would hear when I twisted the cap on the bottle. They smiled when they heard it. I poured a small amount in each glass. They marveled at the sparkling bubbles.

They sniffed. They pulled back. They sniffed again. They sipped. They winced a little bit and smiled.

They liked it. They liked it!

A few days later, I gave my kids money for the snack bar at our community pool. They came back with an ice cream sandwich, a soft pretzel, and a giant styrofoam cup filled with Mountain Dew.

I rarely feel like I belong when it comes to feeding my children, and I finally had something in common with the other parents when I proudly and firmly called my kids out. “I didn’t say you could buy soda! You didn’t ask for permission! No more soda!”

 sensory blog hop

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo!Want to join in on next month’s Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!

Want to read more amazing posts in the August Sensory Blog Hop? Just click on this adorable little frog…

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Filed under eating out, food, food issues, sensory processing disorder

Looking for me?

Good morning, Mamas!

It’s a busy day here at the Runaway Mama headquarters!

My essay, “Muscle Memory,” about reigniting my motherhood spark, is on Mamalode today. Yay! It’s a daily practice to connect with my kids, and it isn’t always easy, but I’ll never stop trying because there’s way too much at stake. Here’s the link: http://mamalode.com/story/detail/muscle-memory

Also, I’m also honored to be on BonBon Break (for the first time…yee haw!) with my essay about coping with picky eaters during the holidays. That’s right, my dear friends, ‘tis the season! You probably won’t come up for air again until mid to late January, so check out my tips before you dive into the holiday madness. Here’s the link: http://www.bonbonbreak.com/7-tips-cope-picky-eaters-holidays/

As always, thank you for reading and sharing and commenting!

Talk soon,

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Filed under food, food issues, motherhood