As a parent, you've probably heard a lot about bullying and your child may have even experienced it firsthand. But bullying can happen in other places besides the playground and the classroom—it can also happen over food in the lunch room.
Bullying over food has probably existed since kids first started bringing lunch to school, but the time may be especially ripe for it now. After all, we're feeding our kids in many varied ways now, so the lunches in school cafeterias may look quite different from each another. Some kids eat all organic, others go gluten-free. Some are vegetarian, others do Paleo. Many children have allergies and sensitivities. There are lots of families who struggle financially and just do the best they can.
Food has also become a hot-button issue, and everyone seems to have an opinion. That rubs off on kids. If you rail against processed foods, your child may do the same to her classmate with a packaged lunch. Same goes for negative remarks about "health food". Even grown-ups can be food bullies with each other! I've heard adults say their coworkers or friends tease them for packing a healthy lunch--or on the flip side, for eating fast food.
When I asked the community on my Real Mom Nutrition Facebook page if their child had ever experienced bullying in the lunch room, here's a sampling of the stories I got:
Here's what you can do about food bullying:
Has your child ever experienced food bullying?
Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, educator, and mom of two who blogs at Real Mom Nutrition. You can follow her on Facebook Twitter Pinterest, and Instagram. She collaborated with Cooking Light on Dinnertime Survival Guide, a cookbook for busy families. In her spare time, she loads and unloads the dishwasher. Then loads it again.