Hey parents, knock it off with the snacks!
Being a parent is really tough. Actually, being a really good parent is really tough.
We need to make sure they’re sleeping enough, getting to school on time, pick them up, drive them to games and activities, feed them, do homework and get them to bed. That’s a lot of stuff that has to happen just to do the basics. In all this running around just trying to fit the bare essentials into our busy schedules we tend to neglect one major thing.
The quality of the food the kids eat.
Some parents do a fantastic job at this. Some kids just have a propensity for real food and make it easy on parents while other kids (my kid) only seems to like stuff that was made in a laboratory. If it doesn’t taste like sugar, these kids refuse to eat it. OR some parents just don’t realize what’s in some of these “foods” we are feeding these kids.
It’s not just the parents fault. Our government has been completely ineffective in their efforts to recommend healthy foods. Their food pyramid was complete shit. They still subsidize all kinds of garbage that is making this country fat and sick. Either they have no clue and recommend foods based on bad science, they don’t want to admit they were wrong, or they are paid off by corporations.
I’m not a conspiracy theory guy but I just can’t imagine a scenario in which we are the most powerful country in he world and we have let this problem get this bad without some kind of financial misbehavior. Somewhere around a 1/3 of the population are obese and are well on their way to becoming diabetic if they’re not already. How has this happened? Well here’s a good place to start.
This is the breakfast menu for my daughter’s elementary school. I don’t know if anyone could design a shittier breakfast. I take umbrage with this menu because they had the nerve to write “A good day starts with a balanced breakfast “. WTF is balanced about this breakfast? This is dessert not breakfast.
I know people still say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but from my knowledge there isn’t much science to support that. I’m sure that they didn’t have Honey Buns and Fruit Juice in mind when the nutritionist recommended breakfast.
Let’s do some math. If you add the sugar of the Honey Bun + a 100% Fruit Juice Box + a banana, it equals approximately…
For many of us, grams is a unit of measurement that we can’t relate to. So 4 grams of sugar will equal 1 teaspoon. 3 teaspoons equals a tablespoon. If my math is correct, a can of Coke would have around 3 tablespoons of sugar per can. Maybe this video will help put it into perspective.
Most parents would not allow their children to have a can of Coke for breakfast. It’s high in sugar and devoid of any nutrition. Well, if my math is correct, the school breakfast program is giving kindergarten – 3rd graders TWICE the amount of sugar of a can of Coke.
Good new is they get some fruit which does have some nutritional benefits. Bad news is you just gave children a butt load of sugar. But worst of all is they have instilled a thought in the kids that this is good for breakfast. Sugar can lead to similar symptoms as drug addiction. They are creating a sugar addiction early on by feeding them mini doughnuts and telling them it’s part of a balanced breakfast.
I understand why there is a school breakfast program. Some kids don’t eat at home for one reason or the other. I would argue that skipping breakfast may be better than not starting your day off with Pop Tarts and a juice box. Or, skipping the dessert and just providing the fruit for them, which Kiwanis Club “Fruit of the Room” project thankfully does for snack everyday here in Sandwich. Instead of the desserts for breakfast, how about Oatmeal and an egg?
You could provide a breakfast of Oatmeal an egg plus fruit for about 20 cents each day. Throw in a handful of blueberries and maybe a small squirt of honey and you would be somewhere around a quarter for a kids breakfast. Although it’s probably not the perfect breakfast, it’s far better than the current meal.
This is the point where parents will say – “kids won’t eat that and it will go to waste”. I KNOW BECAUSE WE HAVE DESTROYED THEIR TASTE BUDS, AND THEY HAVE COME TO EXPECT A MINIMUM OF 76.5 GRAMS OF SUGAR TO BE SATISFIED! I would rather dump wasted food in the garbage than give them a bunch of shit that is making them sick.
Luckily the school lunches do look a little more balanced. They provide some foods with some level of nutritional worth even if minuscule. But often times the kids will get a treat later in the day if it happens to be someone’s birthday or any other occasion that calls for cupcakes.
Then after school if they happen to play sports the parents are expected to bring treats for after the game. Great job at Soccer kid! Now grab a cookie and juice boxes. Your team won, let’s go get ice cream!
In our hypothetical day, a kid would start off with our “balanced” breakfast with 76.5 grams of sugar. A snack at some point of the day would consist of an apple which has around 20 grams of sugar (at least fruit contain an array of nutrients such as minerals, vitamins, fiber and antioxidants). Maybe a low-fat yogurt or applesauce (both junk food by the way) for lunch would add another 20 grams of sugar. It’s little Emma’s birthday and she brought in cupcakes which is another 30 grams of sugar. The Gatorade at tee-ball is around 40 grams. Then top it off with ice cream after the big win and we are looking at a total of approximately…
234.5 grams of sugar
In case you don’t know: 4 grams per teaspoon and 3 teaspoons per tablespoon. That’s 59 teaspoons or 20 tablespoons of sugar in one day.
Care to guess what the recommended daily
intake of sugar is for children?
The American Heart Association has set lower guidelines for sugar consumption: Children up to age 8 should take in no more than 3 to 4 teaspoons of added sugar per day.
Well it looks like we just slightly missed that recommended target by about 55 teaspoons. I’m writing this not as a perfect parent that feeds my children only Organic Kale and Salmon salads. In fact I kind of suck at this part of parenting. I love to take the kids out for ice cream but if I know they already had a few other treats earlier in the day….
Oh screw it. I’m strugglin to even finish up a cohesive thought to end this article/rant. I’ll just leave you with these.
Getting kids to eat very well is a difficult task. Getting kids to play and be athletic is much easier. If you want more information on developing fit, athletic kiddos. Check out my Kid’s Athletic Class!