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Monday, April 11, 2011

Children and Food

As a Kindergarten teacher, it can be disturbing for me at times to see children that are already showing signs of being overweight. It can also be somewhat upsetting to see what the children are eating. In my class, we have two eating times: one is a "snack" time and the other is a "lunch" time. It's really interesting to see the variety of foods that come through the door. It's also, at times, alarming.

Growing up, I was immersed in a processed food world. It is no wonder to me that I struggled with my weight and became an obese adult. Meal times were irregular at my house and we never sat down to eat a family meal. My Father ate his meal regularly and it often consisted of the same thing: meat, potato (often fries) and corn. He was a shift worker so he ate at all hours of the day. My Mother (who also battled a weight problem) rarely ever sat down to eat a whole meal and mostly, grazed throughout the day. If she were to sit down with me, it would be for a meal of takeout, Chinese and pizza. My Mother *hated* to cook.

Dinner for me was often junkfood: toasted bacon sandwiches (I kid you not), hotdogs, Kraft dinner, hamburgers, takeout etc. We never really ate vegetables other than potatoes (fries mostly) or corn. The only time that we really even kind of sat down for a meal was on Sundays when Mom actually cooked a roast. But often that involved her and I eating in front of the television.

Is it no wonder that I struggled with my weight growing up?

I see a variety of trends with my students. I've been pushing "brain food" the last month like fruits and vegetables. It's starting to help a bit. My one boy student who struggles with attention issues ( changes might help) is forgoing the junk food and brought a banana today. I had a child today who brought in kiwi (the other children gathered, flabbergasted by this strange green fruit).

I see too many lunchables. With children it is a sad status symbol. I see a TON of processed carbs (granola bars, nutrigain bars, 100 calorie packs, cookies). I see lunches that consist of these all thrown together with no protein at all! Scary! I see a ton of juices laden with sugar (have also been promoting water as the best drink ever), and koolaid jammers (ick!). I've seen parents coming in and bringing KFC, MCDonalds etc. Thankfully they seem to know it is a treat and don't do it that frequently.

But on the positive side, I've seen children eating some nice garden salads!! Real yogurt, fruit salad, strawberries, etc. I am seeing more and more fruit coming in! I can see already that for some children, it really does make a difference.

I have a real problem with these companies that dumb down their products. Think of KD, who introduced Kraft dinner made out of cauliflower. Sounds healthy right? Not til you read the package. I hate that the local Macs store is carrying those stupid milkshakes that have no nutritional value whatsoever. I wish our society would be more critical of these products.

Oh well, rant over :)


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