A mom revealed on TikTok that she was shamed by his school after packing chips in her son’s lunch. In a TikTok video, mom, Megan (@peaveymegan), wondered what she should do after receiving a seemingly snarky note on her 3-year-old son’s leftover “trash” from his school urging her to stop sending him with “unhealthy” snacks.
Not only did the mom find the note itself inappropriate and passive aggressive, she also explained why using words like “healthy” and “unhealthy” when talking about food can have detrimental, lifelong effects on a kid’s relationship with food.
“I sent my son to school with Pringles, which is a very age-appropriate snack for a three-year-old,” she began.
“And this is what the school sent, ‘Please help us make healthy choices at school,’” she reads off her son’s empty Pringles container. “They snack-shamed my three-year-old. They snack-shamed me by writing that passive aggressively on his trash.”
She explains that she messaged the school and expressing how taken aback and frustrated she was with the note, saying that in their household no food is deemed “unhealthy.”
“At our house, we do not label things as ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ because that starts eating disorders,” she said.
She then asked her followers if they, too, thought the entire scenario was “ridiculous.”
The video soon went viral with thousands of TikTok users commenting in solidarity with Megan.
“I beg you to confront the teacher asking for her dietary credentials or certifications in childhood nutrition. She can’t tout her opinions as advice,” one TikTok user wrote.
Another user agreed, pointing out that teachers often will give out “unhealthy” snacks to children as incentives.
“Hi… school custodian here!! Believe me when I say the amount of candy these teachers are giving your kids… lollipops and jolly rancher wrappers every day. Yes, even in elementary schools!”
Another user had a great idea for a clap back and wrote, “Send Pringles the next day that say ‘when you buy it, you can decide what the snack is.’”
When the video went viral, Megan explained in a follow-up video that the attention became overwhelming and she decided to delete it. However, once she heard back from the school regarding the passive-aggressive note, she re-uploaded the clip.
“So I dropped my son off at school today. I checked him in, and I saw that the director was there, so I initiated the conversation. So, I just shared how I was disappointed with how, you know, it was handled. I wish that they had reached out to me directly. I said it was kind of passive aggressive to write it on his empty Pringles Cup,” she said in the follow-up video.
Megan then explains that the director responded, claiming that she was actually the passive-aggressive one for continuing to send Pringles in his lunch after they had sent the note home.
She clarified that yes, when they first enrolled in the school, there was literature sent home about packing “healthy” foods for their children, but she said Pringles didn’t come to her mind.
“I didn’t consider Pringles to be this unhealthy snack,” she said. “I considered things like Cheetos, Doritos, Milky Way bars, things like that to be an unhealthy snack. So, I would, of course, pack like Pringles with granola bar, yogurt, fruit, all that kind of stuff. So I didn’t really think it was applicable to me. I didn’t think that those messages applied.”
She said the school did not apologize or acknowledge that the note on her son’s lunch trash might have been a bit inappropriate, instead the school escalated the situation.
“My son’s been [at this school] for quite some time, and we had him registered for their summer program for three days a week. And at the end of the conversation, she shared, ‘We no longer have a part-time spot for your son this summer.’”
Megan promptly removed her son from the school all together.
Even though she doesn’t even need to explain why she packed chips, Megan explains in another video that she is a working mom who has limited time to pack lunches. “Sometimes it’s easier for me to just throw in a freaking thing of Pringles, okay?” she says.
“If we’re sending food that we think is is good for our children, then why can’t they just let them have that?”
She reflects on how out of control the situation got, leading to her three-year-old leaving the school early, losing his summer spot, and no longer seeing his friends from school. However, when it comes down to it, Megan knows that she’s doing what’s best for her son and his relationship with food.
“We don’t put weight on food in this house. If my kids want a cookie for breakfast, it’s okay, great, and nine out of ten times they don’t even eat the cookie but they will focus on that if you say ‘no.’ We don’t say, ‘This is healthy, this is unhealthy,’” she says.
“We don’t want them programmed like that. I have a background in mental health counseling. I am not gonna let my kids get a freaking eating disorder because of a school labeling things as ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy.’ That, to me, is unhealthy.”
And she’s totally right. Not only is the language her son’s school used problematic, but classifying foods as “good” or “bad” is also classist. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 13.5 million U.S. households were food insecure at some point in 2021.
Low-income households tend to eat less nutritious diets than other households. On average, they do not meet Federal recommendations for consumption of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, and they consume fewer servings of these nutritious foods than other households.
“It’s not a lack of knowledge; it’s a lack of money,” Corinne Eisler, a registered dietitian and pediatric nutrition expert explained to Today’s Parents. “A child should never be shamed because they don’t have an optimal eating plan.”
Several dietician experts have spoken out in recent years against trying to restrict certain foods and label them as “unhealthy” or “bad” for children.
Restricting “unhealthy” foods is not the answer to getting kids to find “better” alternatives. In fact, that might even have the opposite effect.
A 2002 study published in the American Society for Clinical Nutrition journal revealed that girls whose diets and access to junk food were tightly controlled by their parents when they were five were more likely to overeat at age seven. The girls who overate were also 4.6 times more likely to be overweight when compared to their peers who were more in control of their snacking.
It’s all about balance.
“It’s important for our kids to understand it’s OK to occasionally have a treat,” registered dietitian Jodi Holland told Today’s Parent. “It’s also important for them to understand why it’s best to fill up on healthier foods the majority of the time.”