Me versus Lunchables

I am certainly not perfect in my nutrition, and I’m far from perfect in my parenting, but I do have strong opinions surrounding both.

What really gets me are the weekly pizza days and the school program chocolate milks and the kid’s menus at restaurants.  It’s the never-ending Halloween candy and the overloaded Easter baskets and the individually wrapped, over-processed “snack foods.”  What used to be treats have become a part of everyday childhood nutrition.  It seems that everywhere I turn, unhealthy food is being marketed to my children as a healthy choice, and I’m tired of feeling duped.  “But Mom, it says these gummy fruit snacks are made with real fruit,” my seven-year-old read to me recently.  And off I go into a discussion of “made with real fruit” versus actual “real fruit.”

The other day, a patient was lamenting to me about how he’s put on weight due to his poor diet.  “I’ve been eating all of her stuff lately,” he said, referring to his five-year-old daughter, “all goldfish crackers and Bearpaws and Lunchables.”  But why are Lunchables even a thing?  Have you read their ingredients?  Take a look:

3

I can’t pronounce half of these words, and I certainly wouldn’t eat this myself, let alone serve it to my still-growing, ever-impressionable children.  I cannot see one redeemable ingredient in this entire list; it’s full of chemicals and fillers and oh-so-bad-for-you stuff.  So WHY are we allowing this product to succeed?  We have a voice with our spending patterns.  If no one bought Lunchables, Lunchables would cease to be.

I’ve written about kid’s menus before, but their content still angers me.  The truth is, I think that kid’s menus should actually be healthier than adult menus; after all, their bodies are smaller, their development level much higher, and their potential much greater than ours.  Should we not be giving them the best start that we can, instead of filling them up with Kraft dinner and french fries and chicken nuggets?  Let’s teach healthy eating as we would teach any other life skill, and we will grow our children into adults who think choosing an apple is more normal than choosing an apple fritter.

This is a borderline rant, or perhaps well into a full-blown rant, so I must finish up here.  Yes, I agree that treats should be enjoyed and celebrated sometimes, but not all the time.  And I understand that we’re all just doing our best, trying to make the best choices for our family’s nutrition (in fact, many would argue against my huge egg intake), but I can promise you that the healthiest choices do not come pre-packaged with several-year shelf lives.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

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8 thoughts on “Me versus Lunchables

  1. Rob Cooper says:

    Bravo, Dr. Worobec. Food companies are taking advantage of how busy parents are by saying “Here, we’ll make your kids’ lunches for you” – and then wrapping their chemicals in kid-luring packages. You’re right that a mass boycott would work – but these companies also bank (literally) on the fact that inertia will prevent a large-scale boycott.

  2. Davin says:

    Awesome post Ash… We don’t eat out all that often at home but it amazes us how garbage “kids menus” are… Everywhere.
    Chicken fingers
    Pasta
    Cheese pizza
    Plain Hamburger and fries
    Repeat in any other order

    Why isn’t the “kids menu” anything on the menu in a half size?
    My personal beliefs? Too many parents cave at a young age, either out or at home because they “don’t want to make a scene” They give whatever their kid wants to keep them quiet. It’s a shame. It’s a shame because I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it as well at some point. I for one would stand and applaud if I heard someone make their child eat something with good nutrition instead of “fries and ketchup” as their main course. One of theee best things my wife ever did was feed our kids vegetables and fruit as their first food experiences. Not packaged, not processed. Our kids are 7 and 5 and love vegetables, not because they are in any way different than other kids, but because that’s what they have eaten their whole existence. They don’t know how not to like them if that makes sense.
    Thanks again for sharing

    • drworobec says:

      I could not agree more Davin! We recently went on a Disney cruise and I had heard about how great the food was beforehand- well, the adult food was great, but the kid food was still burgers and fries and Mac n cheese! All week long, with different Disney character names attached! Unbelievable.

  3. I could not agree more! And to think, other countries prevent food marketing to children. But not the US!

  4. Sandy McCarthy says:

    I couldn’t agree more!! You nailed it!! We are st the mercy of the food industry who play on children who wear parents down. Everyone needs to learn to cook and prepare food from real food not from a box that is not recognizable as food.

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