Food Is Not Your Enemy

At Last: Better Lunches for Students
January 26, 2012, 3:05 pm
Filed under: food politics, Fruits, Vegetables, weight loss | Tags: ,

In an effort to reduce the rampant problem of childhood obesity, the White House has announced its long-awaited changes to school cafeteria meals. Kids can expect more fruits and green vegetables on their breakfast and lunch trays, and a whole lot less salt and fat. Great news.

Pizza Sauce To Count as a Veggie?

Echoing the days when President Reagan declared that ketchup counted as a vegetable on school lunch trays, now it’s looking like the sauce on frozen pizza may be headed for the same distinction. Thanks, lawmakers. At a time when our nation’s childhood obesity rate is skyrocketing, should we really be looking to cut corners like this, and find ways to ensure that our kids are served no extra veggies and fruits with their school lunch? Do we really want to pat ourselves on the back for serving our kids frozen pizza, justifying that this is a healthy option?

UPDATE: And…. yes, the House of Representatives has in fact now voted to protect pizza as a vegetable.

The Success of the All-Carrot Vending Machine

I love this story! A vending machine containing nothing but baby carrots was placed in a school in Ohio. Did the carrots shrivel and mold in there, while the kids sought out candy elsewhere? No! The kids bought the carrots, and the gutsy experiment proved to be a success.

It seems that when kids are hungry, they will eat whatever is made available to them. So instead of candy and Fritos, how about stocking schools with, in addition to baby carrots, such snacks as roasted peanuts, trail mix, raisins, Larabars (whose only ingredients are fruit and nuts and sometimes unsweetened chocolate), and string cheese?

Happy Meal Toys To Be Banned?

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is going after McDonald’s and demanding that they stop including toys in their Happy Meals, saying that these trinkets lure children into eating unhealthy food.

As with the ice cream truck wars, I have mixed feelings about this. Parents can simply say no to their kids and refuse to go to McDonald’s. But the problem is, too many parents don’t say no, because they don’t really see what the big deal is about eating there. It makes their kids happy, so why not?

The problem is that USDA scientists have found that people eat 500 more calories on days they consume fast foods compared with days they don’t. Eating just one fast-food meal per week WILL lead to weight gain over the course of the year.

So maybe we do need a crackdown here. There are regulations now about advertising junk foods to children on TV, after all. Isn’t including a Buzz Lightyear toy in a box with a fatty hamburger, fries, and a soda a way of advertising junk food to kids?

Are You In It for the Soccer, or the Donuts?

Love this piece from the National Action Against Obesity blog about how sideline snacks have seemingly taken on greater importance than the actual soccer game or other sport kids are playing on a given day.

I have experienced this myself, and felt it was crazy that parents assumed my daughter’s AYSO soccer team couldn’t go for one hour without stuffing food into their mouths. And I did wonder if it was the donuts, not the game, that got some kids excited to come to the field each weekend.

Should Doritos, But Not Homemade Carrot Cake, Be Allowed at Bake Sales? Parents Stage Protest

In an effort to tackle the rampant problem of childhood obesity, New York City officials have decided that homemade baked goods should no longer be allowed at school bake sales. Bwuuuah?

Even weirder, what IS allowed are such processed, unhealthy foods as Reduced Fat Cool Ranch Doritos and Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips. Why? Because these products have nutrition labels and meet city Health Department guidelines on calories, fat, and sodium.

By banning homemade products, the city is, perhaps unintentionally, endorsing junk food made with such suspect ingredients as MSG and high-fructose corn syrup, ingredients you won’t see in any cupcake or muffin made by a parent at home. The fact that these foods come with a nutrition label does not make them any better for our kids.

Laura Shapiro, a food historian and author, told The New York Times that the city’s argument was “exactly the kind of thinking that sent us down the road of packaged, industrial junk food in the first place.”

Many parents are outraged by this new regulation, and are staging a “bake-in” at City Hall on Thursday in protest.

How Overweight Children Affect Their Families
February 12, 2010, 4:59 pm
Filed under: Chronic Disease, weight loss | Tags: ,

Interesting article in The New York Times today about childhood obesity. Successfully changing kids’ habits boils down to this:

“It is nearly impossible for your child to change habits if the rest of the family does not. You cannot reasonably tell a child he is allowed only one soda a week if you keep two-liter bottles of Coke and Sprite in the refrigerator.

Most children react well to change … as long as they do not see it as a punishment. If you explain to your children that by eating better and exercising more, they will have more stamina to play sports and will take fewer trips to the doctor, your children may actually embrace your healthy lifestyle plan.”

This makes good sense. You can’t expect your child to change without you changing. And, of course, it’s in a parent’s interest to drop excess weight as well. When I work with children, I expect that they aren’t the only ones in their home who will benefit from making dietary changes.