Lately, I've been mulling where to give wiggle room. For my 2 year old, there is none. She has sensory processing disorder and speech/developmental delay, and is on a gluten free dairy free gut-healing diet.
But my 5 year old kindergartner? She is now coming up on halfway through her school year. I've come to grudgingly admit that my glory days of packing her uncompromising real food lunches for preschool have to be adapted into a more self-aware social context. She's already reported to me that cafeteria tablemates have made fun of her Wholly Guacamole 100 calorie packs, teasing her by saying they look gross.
(Side note: Parents, can we all agree to train our kids to never make fun of other kids' lunches? I know it's hard to do, but it's worthwhile. Thanks very much.)
I've tried to continue the angle of her holding her own, saying that she should joke around with them that it's like she's eating slime, ewwwwwwwwww. Deviled eggs - seemed pretty innocuous to me - are also being reviled.
It's never been my goal for my kids to feel stifled by our dietary approach. I want my daughters to learn in concrete terms why we chose the foods that we do. I also try not to condemn foods wholesale, but to refer to foods as being along a spectrum in terms of healthfulness, and asking about what healthier choices might exist.
That said, lately I've given my 5 year old more of an 80/20 approach. Since she eats lunches away from her sister during the school day, she might get a handful of 6 or 7 gluten free pretzels in her lunch once a week, or once in a great while a tetrapack single serving of chocolate almond milk. I even had a day a couple of weeks ago when I packed her a slice of Chebe pizza leftover from a weekend gathering with grandparents -- and it so happened that pizza was on the menu in the lunchroom. I think these minor concessions go a long way to helping her to feel more like her friends without compromising too much.
How to you work the 80/20 angle for your kids' lunches? Do you have a household where different food standards apply among your kids based on their individual physiological and social/emotional needs?