Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Finding the time to eat

Every evening when I come home from work, I ask my son about his lunch. Most days he gives it high praise: "It was double fantastic awesome!" Some days he gives me helpful criticism: "Please pack the crackers and the cheese separately so the crackers don't get soggy." Our deal is that he has to bring home everything that he didn't eat so I can make sure that he is consuming enough healthy food.

One day he brought home more than half his lunch, because he didn't have enough time to eat it all. His lunch that day had required some assembly on his part, but in retrospect, I could see how he had difficulty in assembling and devouring it during lunchtime.

In my son's school, they only get 20 minutes for lunch. And I worry that the short window of time is encouraging him to eat too fast (which I already have a problem with). But at least I am sure he is getting the full 20 minutes.

A study of Seattle schools across one district found that none of the schools gave their students the required 20 minute break for lunch. The study discovered that the average eating time clocked in at 13 minutes.

That is clearly not enough time to eat.

There are lots of rules in my son's school (like silent lunches) that force students to focus on eating. And my son is still in love with the fact that he brings a packed lunch to school every day, so he doesn't have to spend his eating time selecting his hot lunch. All of this reading about short lunches now makes me pay attention to what I am packing: Easy-open containers, no assembly required and portion control have become my routine. If I do my job right, he won't be ravenously hungry by the end of the day.

How long does it take you to eat lunch? Share with me in the comments. 


  1. I had similar problems with short lunch periods when my daughter was in public school. She had twenty minutes and sometimes the teacher took them in late. She then had to get her milk if she was packing, use the microwave if she was warming something up, or get in line if she was buying her lunch. All of this ate into the precious little time she was allotted.

    My daughter has always been a slow eater, so this just made things even worse. The recess teacher on duty wold come to collect the kids and if they weren't done eating, that was just too bad. At one point, the lunch lady took my daughters salad from her while she was eating, handed her the brownie that was left,and told her to take it outside and eat it. I was so livid I had a lengthy talk with the principle and my child was then allowed to finish eating and walk herself to recess when she was done.

    Now that we home school, it is no longer an issue. I give her thirty minutes to eat (we set a timer) and it doesn't start until I place the food in front of her. She always manages to finish and usually has a few minutes to spare.

    Your non assembly and portion control sounds like a great idea for children in public school. Good job mom!

    1. Thanks Aileen! It's scary how quickly some children are forced to eat, and if they don't finish in time then they can go hungry for the rest of the day. That makes for some very grumpy kids!