Starting school can be a bit of a minefield at the best of times. Remembering the many things the school has advised can be troublesome and none more so than ‘snack’.

Katie’s school has called for a ‘significant’ snack but it must be nut free and must be ‘healthy.’ We also need to pick something that is dairy and soya free… so it’s all a little tricky.

I’m more than happy to follow a nut free policy – it makes absolute sense given the severity of some kid’s allergies. But the ‘healthy’ thing does bother me a bit – what makes a food unhealthy? Surely no food is truly unhealthy if a sensible portion size is consumed and if it’s balanced with other foods. Crisps may be nutritionally quite empty – but many brands have sought to low saturated fat and varieties that are marketed for kids aren’t particularly high in salt either. Obviously all sweets are out of the picture too – but I can think of other things that are much higher than sugar too. Is it really right to say that foods are out of bounds? What does that really teach our kids?

Obviously, this pondering is not going to change any policy so I’ve been working with Katie to find something that works for her. We’ve continued to use her Yumbox for lunch most days but I was very surprised to find food uneaten. At first Katie just said she didn’t have enough time but also admitted that she was also full from her snack. It was evident that I was providing a bit too much substance!

As a consequence, rather than trying to provide a little of something from every food group – I’ve been focusing on variety. Some days we provide something that’s more fruit or veg based, whereas other days I’ll pop in some left-over pasta salad.

I think it’s also important to realise that some days she’s just not as hungry – and that’s ok – but it doesn’t stop me from trying to find things that she can enjoy eating. Below is a wee list of the types of things Katie claims that other kids have been eating (and many that we give Katie too):

We’re obviously really careful to check food labels for allergies but I hope we’re succeeding in a at least providing some variety. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with packing the same thing each day – I like that Katie is still happy to eat a variety of food. In fact, I would be overjoyed if she’d widen her repertoire a little! Some kids in her class have sushi –  but even though I know she loves all the components –  she just won’t touch it! Any advice on getting her to try it would be gratefully received – as would any other school snack inspiration!

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