Equal to my passion for fitness is encouraging, uplifting, educating, and empowering teens.
Teenagers are cool beings, often misunderstood, and just want to be heard. No different from when we were adolescents. How soon we forget. I don’t know of anyone who miraculously jumped from age 13 right into “wisdom” and “maturity.” Heck many adults are still trying to find themselves.
Anyway, I was preparing to talk to a group of teens. While I spoke, they ate their breakfast, which included this stuff.
“Delicious Essentials!” Seriously, what’s essential about this? Read the label.
Graham Cracker’s for breakfast?
It was early morning and my curiosity got the best of me. I always read food and product labels. I already suspected the food had little nutritional value and was high in sugar, but wanted confirmation.
I picked up the packages squinting and straining to gain focus to read the small printed labels (reading specs were not on hand).
Aloud I say Nooo!! Seriously?!! The “food pusha” that I am, the name given to me by a colleague, was appalled by the nutritional value of the package.
In just one meal, the breakfast almost exceeds the American Heart Association’s new daily sugar guidelines for pre-teen and teens.
One prepackaged breakfast included cereal, juice and animal crackers. Yes, animal crackers! Smh!
|Golden Grahams Cereal||5 grams||220||110|
|100% Apple Juice||12 grams||10||60|
|Whole grain animal crackers||7||90||110|
|Total||24 grams||320 grams||280|
While this “meal” is low in calories, the sugar content is high.
“A recent AHA (American Heart Association) study found 14-18 year old children intake the most sugar on a daily basis, averaging about 34.3 teaspoons a day.”
A large number of sugar consumed by these kids come from sodas and juices. This number can be drastically decreased by replacing juice and soda with water. To add natural flavor to water, add lemon wedges, strawberries, or cucumber.
So back to the package… The “great breakfast” is produced by E.S.Foods. “Nourishing our future” is the tag line under the logo. Umm… aaahhh…. (Twisting my lips to find the right words)… animal crackers, juice and Golden Grahams are not my idea of feeding my son a nutritious breakfast in the morning.
Here’s another breakfast favorite that was included in the stash.
Who believes that there is actually fruit in this bowl? Want to to talk about food coloring? Ugh!!
Before anyone gets upset here, I get it!
“A” breakfast is better than “no” breakfast at all. True.
But seriously, I really wanna know does the company genuinely want to help nourish kids or is it the same old bullshit that revolves around profit and a network of business minded folk and or politicians exchanging favors.
With the kids in mind, my thoughts are,
“How can the quality of the package contents be improved?”
“How can real fruit be incorporated into this process?”
I’m not naïve and understand the shelf-life of fruit is limited. The complexities of getting fresh produce out to kids will mostly likely be more complicated and cumbersome. I also know, due to shrinking family budgets, that not all kids eat or have even been exposed to fresh fruit.
Why not offer more fruit in schools and places like the Police Athletic Leagues, YMCA’s, and The Boys & Girls Club of America?
There has to be a better way. I’m not here to judge any business, organization or institution who chooses to buy the product, I am simply pointing out facts and asking questions.
What if the manufacturer removed the cookies and substituted the cookies with a fruit coded voucher (similar to coupons redeemed from smart phones) for fruit redemption in the food line in school?
Certainly they (manufacturers & suppliers) know the value and cost of each bag of cookies.
What if the manufacturer partnered with a local produce vendor or grocery store?
What if those grocery stores and markets provided fresh fruits to the vendors who buy the pre-packaged breakfasts and reimbursed them based on consumption up to an agreed upon amount? What if the local vendors partnered with agencies and institutions that serviced children?
High blood pressure, diabetes, and hypertension—are diagnosed at much earlier ages than in previous decades.
I am a football mom. At the start of each season, I sit and repulsively observe over-weight and out of shape players struggle to complete one lap around the football field. The boys are literally wheezing, gasping for air, and crying! These boys are pre-teens and too young to be unfit and unhealthy. It’s insane!
Years ago kids spent endless hours playing outside. Electronics (TV, computers, games, smart phones, iPads, and other fun gadgets) replace the outdoor physical activity.
Throughout the school day only God knows what the kids eat. Furthermore, many of them do not eat dinner before soccer, football, cheer, baseball, lacrosse, or whatever their chose activity is. By 8 O’Clock at night, the kids are hungry and will wolf down anything resembling food.
Cheese fries, hot dogs, or chicken fingers from the concession stand or a slice or two of pizza from the local pizzeria is not my idea of dinner. Most often parents think they do not have the time to prepare balanced home cooked meals. But the key is meal planning and meal prep (just like in body building).
Consuming less processed foods and more fresh fruits and vegetables is essential. I know that it is expensive to eat healthier. But don’t forget healthcare costs are rising too and American’s are also paying more for healthcare. So, why not try to make small changes that will have better long-term affects on the health of our children?
So between these “healthy” breakfast offerings, school lunches, and on-the-road dinner, its no wonder childhood obesity and chronic illnesses are rising.
The solution? Education. Education. Education.
Start by reading food labels. If you don’t know how to read labels, resources are available online. Here too. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, google it online and keep reading until you understand what the ingredient. Further research the ingredient. When you find something that isn’t healthy (or repulsive to you), make note of it (put it in notes on your phone) and avoid buying food with the product or buy foods that have lower amounts of the ingredient.
Policy makers. They can’t just campaign for healthier foods, sign off on legal documents, slap their hands together and call their job done. “Healthy foods” needs to be defined so that everyone is on the same page. Healthy to me certainly differs from someone else.
Banning candy and soda in school is fine, but not when the food is replaced by packaged food that say “healthy,” “low fat,” “low calorie,” and “low sodium” but is laced with sugar (as much or more as the candy) and other artificial and genetically modified organisms. Oh my Gawd!! My head is spinning.
Parents Wake up! Learn better habits so that you can do better. Read and educate yourself about the food you buy and serve your children.
I am not saying they can’t eat candy, chips, etc… What I am saying is that this “junk” that is often masked, as nutritious food should not be a child’s primary source of food.
While speaking to a group of teens I used my favorite car analogy. I asked about their dream cars. Maserati! Lamborghini! Mercedes! Range Rover! I further inquired about the type of gasoline they’d fuel their car. “The best!” “High octane!” What about tires, I continued to probe… They named outlandishly expensive tires and rims that I’ve never heard of. Lastly I asked if how they cared for their dream care would affect the car’s performance. They agreed it would.
So why would you take better care of your car than your body?? I could see the light bulbs going off! Lol! Will it change the way they eat? Maybe. Maybe not. I tried to help them make a connection between diet and performance (mental & physical). If nothing else, they left the discussion with a little more insight with respect to what they eat.
All I can think about is Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative. What would FLOTUS say about these meals? Remember, I am not judging and know the process is not easy. I am however, asking important questions, looking for better solutions and challenging parents to do the same.
Thanks for stopping by. Have a fabulous day! 🙂
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
U.S. National Physical Activity Plan Note: The U.S. National Physical Activity Plan is not a product of the Federal Government. However, a number of Federal offices were involved in the development of the Plan