August 14, 2019

Dear teacher, I need to tell you something important about me…

Dear Teacher,

I love being in your class. I love learning and I have lots of fun everyday with you and my friends but I need to tell you something important about me. This is about my lunch box, the food I bring to school and how I eat each day.

Please don’t assume…
– that because I have a larger body and I’m shovelling food into my mouth that I’m a glutton; I just want to go outside and play.

– just because I have ‘lots’ of packaged foods and that I eat in a way that seems ‘unhealthy’ to you, doesn’t mean my parents don’t care or love me. This might be their way of showing me their love.

– that because I eat lots of processed foods that my parents are neglectful, maybe they don’t know how to cook or it’s all they know. They may be having a tough time in life at the moment and not able to afford better food.

– that because I have a very limited number of foods in my lunch box each day that my parents are lazy; little did you know that I had a tongue tie and this has affected my ability to chew and my feeding development.

Please don’t…
– tell me that I need to eat everything in my lunch box; my body is pretty good at telling me when I’m full and my tummy hurts when I eat too much.

– make me eat the ‘healthy food’ first; my parents have given me a choice of food for a reason and I can decide what to eat and how much.

– judge the fact that I eat lots of white or bland looking foods, this is all I will eat and my parents are doing their best to introduce new foods but I reject them.
– teach me that some foods are bad and some foods are good; I get really confused and think that I’ll get sick if I eat all those bad foods.

– teach me that sugar is bad; I don’t understand how something can be so bad when it tastes so good. How can I be such a bad person if I eat some lollies, cake or chocolate?

– take my food away or throw it out because it doesn’t comply with the school healthy eating policy. Have you ever thought that your policy may be flawed and more harmful than helpful? I feel it’s more important that we learn more about how ALL FOODS can be ENJOYED as part of a HEALTHY BALANCED DIET.

– send notes home to my parents about the contents of my lunch box. Do you realise that my parents may not be incharge of packing my lunch box? This is my job. These notes can create fear in me eating certain kinds of foods and lead to catastrophic thinking as well as a poor relationship with food long term.

– reward me with food for doing something good in my learning. This makes me eat when I’m not hungry. Did you know that this can lead to me forming a habit of rewarding myself with food later in life, with my body misunderstanding an emotional connection with food and actual hunger?

– teach me that eating too much food causes obesity and fatness. It makes me feel sad when people talk about body shapes and sizes that are inheritable. All bodies are good bodies.

– teach me about calories and that the food I eat needs to be burnt off. I eat food for nourishment, enjoyment, satisfaction and survival. My body is not a bomb calorimeter, it’s a living thing that is making new cells to help me grow and learn.

– teach me to love food by helping me learn about it in a non-judgemental way.

– help me to learn about my senses and how I can use them to learn more about food.

– show me where food comes from.

– keep my learning experiences about food neutral yet positive. Talk to me about food in a matter of fact way without labelling it good, bad, healthy and unhealthy. These labels are hard to understand.

– teach me to love my body and what it can do.

– teach me that all bodies are special and they are made to work in their own way and move in a way that feels good.

Thank you for reading my letter. The more that we talk about this, the more we will learn to appreciate that health and food literacy needs to be addressed in a sensitive and supportive way.

A student who loves food.

This post originally appeared on Embracing Nutrition and has been shared with full permission

Kelly is passionate about changing people’s thinking about healthy eating and healthy relationships with food.

Kelly also recently shared a blog on lunchbox shaming saying, “As someone who has studied child development and now childhood nutrition, I implore a pull back on the approach of lunchbox policing and to reconsider the purpose of such policies.”

Read more – This Teacher Has Had Enough of the Lunch Box Shaming!

Share your comments below.

Kelly is a primary teacher and nutritionist, based in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne. She blogs at Embracing Nutrition. Or you can find her on Facebook.

  • I hope a lot of other teachers read this and take note. My son would always bring his lunchbox home with most of the food still in it. To make sure he ate something I let him choose what he wanted. All he would eat was muesli bars while at school. When he got home he’d have a salad sandwich and at night he’d have a proper nutritious meal. I tried making healthy alternatives for him but it always ended up in the bin. Luckily they never used to police lunch boxes when he went to school


  • I think that needs to be stuck to every staff room wall across australia( heck even the world) of every school, daycare centre.
    I got “ the letter” home once, reminding me of the allergy policy( no fish, eggs, nuts etc). I was stumped as I hadn’t included any of those, when I asked what the problem was she said it was the tuna wrap.
    I had given my son a pulled pork

    • I know right ? I once got a note about a raw chocolate spread my child had on her sandwich (it didn’t have nuts or sugar) they just assumed it was Nutella and unhealthy


  • Wonderful letter – so pleased that a teacher can see the good and bad side of lunch policing. The sooner this is outlawed the better in my mind.


  • I don’t know many teachers that check lunch boxes.


  • It is a hard spot for teachers seeing what they consider “unhealthy” foods. I remember talking to a teacher that attended a professional development day where they conducted an experiment where instead of serving the usual stuff (wraps, sandwiches, fruit, etc) they only served packaged foods that typically come in kids lunchboxes. The feedback all round was that trying to learn at the PD was very difficult and that everyone felt massively tired and hard to concentrate by the end of it.
    I don’t necessarily think that teachers should be judging lunchboxes, but it certainly makes it hard for teachers to see some of the content of lunch boxes knowing that these children are likely going to be affected by what they are eating. No, teachers are not nutritionists, but they do spend a lot of time and energy worrying about our kids and wanting the best for them.
    I have experience with children in multiple settings and it is sad to see a child with a lunchbox full of packaged foods, there were even some parents bringing in McDonalds for lunches.
    The key to all this is education: educate EVERYONE about nutrition and healthy choices, educate about balanced diets.


  • such a lovely article. thanks for the lovely read…from a mother who likes to make yummy food for my family :)


  • I’m grateful that our school isn’t like that. They suggest a healthy lunchbox and give some great ideas and suggest what not to pack but they don’t check up on you.


  • I have seen many teachers comment many times that ”teachers should be allowed to teach”.
    Well, parents should be allowed to parent.
    This is a parenting-led thing. It is great to have an involved teacher who is genuinely educating.
    However, a teacher is not a parent. A teacher is not a nutritionist. A teacher is a teacher.
    Send healthy eating guidelines out in notes to parents. Have health meetings with a nutritionist or dietitian once a year as part of parent-teacher night. Do NOT involve the children.

    Let teachers be teachers. They focus on curriculum.
    Let parents do the rest.


  • I absolutely love this. Starting to dread the preppie going to school next year for fear of this and other feedback. Surely it’s up to me to decide what I send in my child’s lunchbox?! Maybe a better idea is to have information night’s at school where parent’s can learn more about it and make their own decisions…


  • I love this letter, No teacher should be judgemental regarding food in children’s lunch boxes. Every family is different and with some time dire reasons as to why some children have ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods according to today’s standards. Most parents are doing the best they can. Let’s give them credit.


  • A very interesting article with some important points to consider. I don’t believe teachers should have a right to interfere with and prevent a child from eating the food in their lunchboxes. I also don’t believe in shaming parents for the ‘bad’ food choices as there may be several reasons why they choose those foods. Educate don’t shame.


  • A good article. I believe a healthy diet is very important but the odd treat is ok too. Teachers have no right to interfere with lunches. That is only a matter for parents.


  • I absolutely love this article and think it should be shared widely.


  • Not sure I agree that the parents show their love through processed foods. But as a Mum that has had my daughters snack returned uneaten with a note from the teacher I agree with the overall thought


  • Kids should be shamed for what’s in their lunchboxes. Every family makes different choices in regards to food and that should be respected. That being said I sometimes look with concern myself when I see kids get fed a lot of junk, but knowing this can all different types of reasons I tell myself not to judge.

    • Sorry typo: kids shouldn’t be shamed !


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