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Dietitian Mum Slams School For 'Shaming School Lunches'

Dietitian Mum Slams School For 'Shaming School Lunches'

A mother from Queensland, Australia has accused her son's school of 'food shaming' children after she found a note from teacher in her son's bag when he came back home one day.

Interestingly, it was a note complimenting the food she'd packed for her son that caused Natalie Thompson - an accredited dietitian - to take to her blog, Delectable Dietetics.

After she saw the 'We love your healthy lunch' card in her son's bag, she wrote a post offering advice to teachers about supporting families and the choices they make for their children's packed lunches.

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"I believe this concern over lunch boxes is the reason we are hearing so many stories of food-shaming in schools," Ms Thompson wrote.

"Students are at school for six hours out of 14 hours waking hours," her post continued. "That's two meals out of on average five meals, or 40 percent of the dietary intake out of the whole day being at school. We don't know what's going on behind the scenes in the student's family household."

Ms Thompson said that unless a teacher is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) it is 'not within their scope' to 'provide dietary advice or attempt behaviour change' and that she would instead ask teachers to encourage children to 'trust and listen to their bodies'.

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Credit: Instagram
Credit: Instagram

"Your opinion of lunch box situations is just that...your opinion only," she wrote. "Your opinion does not give you permission to police lunch boxes or students' dietary intake."

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Her concerns about her son's school policing what its students ate started last year when he brought home a letter stating when and how students could eat 'unhealthy' snacks and spelling out which foods were appropriate.

That caused the dietitian to write a letter to her son's school asking why the terms 'good' and 'bad' were being applied to lunchboxes.

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"On the second day of school my son received a card stating 'We love your healthy lunch'," she wrote.

"I also noted in a newsletter that 'only healthy food is allowed to be eaten at 1st lunch break. Treats and left-over food can be eaten at 2nd lunch break'.

"Judging food as 'healthy' and 'treats' is assigning morality to food, which is a typical dieting behaviour leading people to feel a sense of fear, guilt and shame, particularly around their weight, body shape or body size."

Credit: Instagram
Credit: Instagram
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While Ms Thompson admitted her son was proud to have received the card, she also said that he 'naturally viewed his peers as less superior for not receiving a card'.

"He now views foods as 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' and is fixated on receiving another card," she said. "As a concerned dietitian and mother, I am now working to repair the damage this school nutrition guideline has caused my son and our family.

"I am particularly concerned that if the next round of cards are given out and my son does not receive a card he will become distressed."

After her letter, the school stopped using the cards immediately and even mentioned the possibility of Ms Thompson featuring in their newsletter with her own nutritional advice.

Featured Image Credit: Instagram

Topics: Food, Children, Community, Health

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Mischa Pearlmen

Mischa is a freelance journalist usually based in either New York or London. He has written for Kerrang!, Record Collector, NME, the New York Observer and FLOOD magazine, among others. Contact him at [email protected]