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Surviving lunch
Page 2: The lunches
Saturday, September 1, 2001

Faryn's pick: Coolcuts carrots and ranch dip
Photo: Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail
Faryn's lunch: Cheestrings, vanilla sticks with chocolate fudge, a box of apple juice, Coolcuts carrots and ranch dip, Fuzzy Peach candies, Snack Pac chocolate pudding, Body Smart candies, NutriGrain strawberry and cream cheese twist, Mickey Mouse fruit peelouts and Kraft Lunchables nachos.

The expert: Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based dietician and author of The Enlightened Eater (MacMillan). She says navigating your way through the supermarket these days is a minefield. "Kids see the stuff on TV and parents are under pressure to buy it for them.

"Most of these foods are high in fat, high in sodium, and we're seeing an increase in levels of obesity." Schwartz says that a steady diet of the prepared foods that are so cleverly marketed at children "changes their palates forever. And if they're not eating well at lunchtime, they'll be sleepy in the afternoon and cranky after school. When a child's blood sugar is low their adrenalin level rises." According to Schwartz, the kids with the inadequate lunches are often the discipline problems.

Islay's Pan: Oh Henry milkshake.
Photo: Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail

So what's a parent to do? Your kid won't eat anything but bread and cheese. You're not there to make sure they don't trade their carrot sticks for a Twinkie.

"Cheestrings are okay," says Schwartz. "So is yogurt and raisins and nuts, if your school allows them." The point is to become an avid label reader and to involve your children in the process of buying and preparing their lunches. She advises parents not to be too rigid. "Go ahead and let them have the chips and the chocolate bars, but tell them that they've got to have something nutritious too or they're not going to feel well." Above all, don't give up. If your child says he doesn't like whole-grain bread for instance, make a deal with him - once a week he has to try. Or compromise - make a sandwich with one slice of white and one of brown.

"Keep offering them different things," she says, pointing out that kids' tastes change. "Parents so often just say `well, he doesn't like that' and that's it. I didn't eat tomatoes or grapefruit until I was 18 because I thought I didn't like them. The trick is not to give up."

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