You could understand being snack-shamed if you sent your child to kindy with chocolate or chips. But sultanas?
A mother has shared on Facebook a note she received from her daughter’s teacher. The mother sent her daughter to kindy with some sultanas, along with a sandwich roll, two boiled eggs, an orange and a kiwifruit.
The daughter came home with a note reading, “The sultanas packed for your child today is unacceptable at kindy due to its high sugar content.”
Understandably, the mum was “seriously not happy”.
Dietitians aren’t happy either. Julie Gilbert, who is an accredited practising dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians’ Association of Australia, has come out in defence of the humble, sweet sultana.
“Remember those days when you used to be able to put sultanas and cheese in your lunchbox, how great that combination used to be?” she says. “It’s a part of childhood, I reckon.”
Gilbert describes sultanas as a “great” idea for a children’s snack.
“Our own healthy eating guidelines recommend children to have one to two serves of fruit a day, and one can be actually dried fruit. We can have up to that one little tiny box of sultanas.”
Parents just need to remember, in terms of portion size, that one sultana is equal to one grape.
Gilbert says kids love sultanas because they’re a little burst of sweetness. But there are other reasons why they’re such a good choice for children to take to school.
“It’s easy for them to pick up in their hands, whereas other fruits can be a bit messy. And it’s one of those things, too, that keeps really, really well in lunchboxes. It doesn’t need refrigeration. Mums love it too, because it doesn’t gets squashed in the bag like a lot of fresh fruit can do.”
She doesn’t have a problem with kids snacking on tinned fruit, either, as long as the pieces aren’t canned in a sugary syrup. “If you’ve got fruit canned in a natural juice, that’s still a really great choice to have,” she adds.
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Gilbert believes that teachers may not always be aware of a why a child has been sent to school with sultanas.
“For all we know, the child may have some toileting issues, may not be getting enough fibre, and that may be the only way. There are a thousand reason as to why parents choose the food that they do, and the teacher should not be shaming that parent.”
If, for example, a child keeps turning up to school with chips or chocolate for lunch, Gilbert still thinks a snack-shaming note is not the way to go.
“If it’s a regular thing, you talk to the parent, find out what’s actually going on. We shouldn’t be shaming our parents. I just don’t think that’s going to result in behavioural changes. I think we are much better off educating.”
Meanwhile, another dietitian, Kathryn Hawkins, was so horrified by the sultana-shaming note that she took to Facebook today.
“I have a VERY strong professional opinion about all this note sending and food shaming: IT HAS TO STOP!” she wrote in a Facebook post. “It is absolutely crazy and does nothing but upset and stress out already tired mums who are trying their best.”
She says sultanas are high in fibre and potassium, and contain B1, B2 and other vitamins and minerals and parents do not have to feel “one bit guilty” for putting them in their child’s lunch.
“Most Australian mums are doing the very best they can in a country that does not support working mothers, does not offer hot school lunches as part of the course, demands that women have 10 balls in the air and don’t drop any, and has created a society of nosey know-it-alls when it comes to feeding our children - so PLEASE LEAVE THE BOX OF SULTANAS ALONE!”
Have you ever been lunchbox shamed by your child's school?