Lately, it seems like a lot of my teenage clients have been having issues with eating in school. Lunch times can run the gamut, with some students having lunch as early as 10:40AM and others not having it until 1PM or later. And, each individual student’s lunch schedule can vary daily, meaning that she might have Monday lunch at 12:30PM but Tuesday and Thursday lunches are at 11AM. In my opinion, all of this unpredictability around lunchtime can create or worsen eating issues in kids, especially those struggling with eating disorders.
In addition to the lunchtime disorganization, many of my patients tell me that they are not allowed to eat snacks in the classroom. I understand that eating can be disruptive during class, and I am not in favor of letting kids just snack willy-nilly during algebra. But, if a student is having lunch at 10:40AM and doesn’t get out of school until 3:30PM, that’s a huge stretch of time to not have a snack. This can lead to large dips in blood sugar, which causes lethargy, brain fog and in some cases dizziness and fainting. Oftentimes, my patients will tell me that they are starving by the time they get home and those who struggle with overeating tend to binge.
I really think snack time should be incorporated into the school day, even for older students. It would help them to concentrate better, feel more energized, and would also help prevent reactionary overeating later in the day. It wouldn’t need to be a long snack time, maybe just 15 minutes, but I think it would be helpful. I think it would be beneficial not only for the students without eating issues, but for those with eating disorders, it would normalize snacking for them.
What are your experiences with school lunches or eating in school?