I am very frustrated of late with the perspective most of our society has about children’s nutrition. It’s as if we are clueless as to what we put in their bodies, yet so many Mom’s micro-manage their own calories and food quality.
Restaurants routinely offer soda or lemonade as a drink included with the cost of the child’s meal. I see kids being served a large glass of Sprite at dinnertime as the parents are under the misunderstanding that clear soda is better for their kids than Cola (dark soda). Sugar is sugar and both contain as much as 17 spoonfuls — and in the case of Mountain Dew, there’s still caffeine even in a clear soda.
The other day at my daughter’s school awards ceremony (in the morning mind you) they offered chocolate chip cookies and lemonade as treats. My response of “sugar and sugar?” was met with offensive glares. I said I would have gladly paid for the purchase of water, but that fell on deaf ears. These are probably the parents who bought the concept Nutella tried to sell us that the chocolate spread was healthy for breakfast because it had nuts and milk in it.
My best friend recently informed me that Los Angeles Unified School District (the most screwed up school district ever) has made it mandatory that children have breakfast in their cafeterias during first period, noting that many households haven’t the money for food. As great as that sounds, they’re only offering the likes of processed and shrink wrapped pastries (sugar, fats and unhealthy carbs) or pizza rolls (sugar, fats and unhealthy carbs). Network television routinely touts statistics of our increasing percentage of childhood obesity then they cut to a McDonalds’ or Coke commercial. It’s all so frustrating!
Then there are the thousands of parents who claim there’s no time or money to make food at home and eat healthy. Well to those nay-sayers, I say: being short on time is no excuse for feeding your child (or yourself) a crappy processed-foods breakfast, or no breakfast at all! It’s, as always, a matter of priorities. 15 minutes the night before or in the morning to make and eat a healthy breakfast is doable for everyone! With proper planning and routines set into place time and money does not have to increase (see last week’s blog “Healthy Nutrition Made Easy).
Calculate what you spend on gasoline driving to and sitting in the car-line at McDonalds’ or Starbucks, along with the cost of the food. Then take that money, and buy a dozen eggs, a package of whole wheat tortillas, some deli turkey and a bag of pre-washed organic spinach. The cost will actually be less, the food can be cooked ahead of time, and in the morning heat up a healthy egg burrito for all of you. Soda and fruit juices should be saved for “treats.” Water is essential to everyone’s health and it’s cheaper (if not free).
A school mate said to my daughter one day “hey how come your Mom doesn’t give you Lunchables (as he ate his Oscar Mayer Lunchables)?” She looked at what he was eating and said “I have the same thing only better.” She had low-sodium organic turkey meat, all-natural sliced white cheddar (no orange dye), sea-salt rice crackers, grapes, carrots, cucumbers, a dollop of humus, and one Hershey’s kiss. Compare that to salami, dyed cheese (known to cause headaches and allergies), Ritz crackers (made with HFCS & sugar), no veggies, no fruit, and two Oreos — a usual Lunchables. Compare the cost too! I can feed her my homemade lunchables all week the cost of 1-2 pre-packaged Lunchables filled with stuff I wouldn’t eat, and I suspect neither would you.
Clearly I’m on a soap box today, but this really gets under my skin. No matter the age or school level, all kids need to eat six (6) small meals all day long, and get off their bums at regular intervals to move, stretch and expel energy. Only if parents commit to making this a lifestyle for their entire family, will we end the rampant obesity besieging our Nation.