I was having lunch the other day at a local cafe to burn some time between meetings. I had my laptop, my cell phone, my client paperwork and was ready to get some work done. I had ordered a salad and was skimming through some emails while I was waiting. I sat at the large community table in the middle of the cafe so I could spread out, eat and work.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a large table with a group of about 6 young kids sitting around it. The kids were being very polite and well-behaved. They were just sitting there chatting among themselves like little adults. Out of the other corner of my eye, I noticed a smaller table with four moms sitting at it. I thought to myself, ‘How nice is this?’ and went about my business.
Not sure why, but I could not help but glance up to notice that each one of the kids had a juice box sitting in front of them very nicely, that had in BIG letters (so much so that I could clearly read it from where I was sitting) “100% juice”. Being a nutrition coach, these types of things tend to pop out at me.
Going back to my work, I could not help but to look up again. This time my glance was caused by the commotion of the lunches being delivered to the table by the server. It was an exciting time for the kids making sure they got the right meal.
All of the meals got delivered the the right child and everyone was happy! So nice, it just warms your heart to see kids so happy! Anyway, being cursed by what I do, I could not help to notice what each child was having for lunch. It ranged from macaroni and cheese, to a turkey sandwich on sourdough bread with just meat, to grilled cheese on white bread. The one thing that really struck me is that the entire table was very white. There was not one vegetable on the table and essentially no fiber.
Now I became somewhat interested in this situation as research. I continued my work, but I started paying some attention to this situation a little bit more. I was noticing as the meal progressed all of the kids became more antsy and more vocal and they all started wiggling and moving around. I noticed that one of the kids halfway through his meal stood up and opened a bag of goldfish crackers. The mom of the young boy requested he sit back down and at least eat some more of his meat from the sandwich.
Not much longer after that, it was obvious that the meal was over. None of the kids were in their seats anymore. Instead, they were starting to run around (kids will be kids, right?).
Well, this is when something needed to be done. Action must be taken to control the situation. So, out come the ring pops! Low and behold it worked! The kids stopped running and came back to the table. Very politely, they each picked their color and were on their way.
Hey, they ate most of their meat and bread. They had a serving of fruit juice. So, they deserved a little treat. What is the harm, right?
The second these kids got that ring pop in their mouth, they were literally bouncing off the walls. These kids could not sit still. They were dancing and running around. I was fascinated with this. But, this extra activity was not caused by the sugar from the candy. It did not have enough time to kick in yet. The one boy was dancing so much he could barely get the candy in his mouth
This energy – this sugar high – came from their lunch.
I know you are saying, “Their lunch?” But that was a healthy lunch!
That is what I use to think as well. The reason I can call these moms out on this is because I used to do the EXACT same things to my kids before I learned this stuff. First of all, a juice box has about the same, if not more, sugar as a coke. Ok, so we before these kids were even served food, they were given 30 grams of sugar from the juice. Next is the white pasta, white bread, and essentially white crackers (they were just colored with chemicals to make them gold). All these white things when they enter your system very quickly turn to sugar in your body.
So, essentially these kids were having sugar (juice), sugar (white bread pasta), a little meat, sugar (goldfish), and since they were so good by eating most of their sugar, they get more sugar in the form of a ring pop. To be honest, I would be dancing around too if I had that much sugar rushing through my body. Needless to say, the moms knew it was time to go because they could not keep track of their kids. So, they started packing up and wrangling the kids in.
The thing I found most interesting is that while all of this was going on, each of the moms had a nice big salad for lunch. I thought to myself, why did the moms get this great health salad and why did the kids get the lowest quality food, made from the cheapest ingredients, that is basically lacking in any nutrients the child actually needs? These particular moms were in decent shape. They had the salad because they knew it was good for them. So why would they give their kids anything less?
I think we tell ourselves, “Oh our kids are young. They will just burn that right off. They don’t have any weight issues. I am older so I have to watch what I eat so I stay healthy.”
Well, here’s the dig. Our kids are human just like us. In fact, they are still growing and developing so proper nutrition is even MORE important!
So, why do we feed our kids low quality food? Well, we do it because our kids don’t like healthy things – right? That is what we used to tell ourselves, too.
Here’s the real question, though. Does it really matter if they like it or not? What if your kid really liked cocaine, would you say, “Okay, you can have some, but you have to finish all your beer first.” You would be locked up in jail. Who is raising whom?
Before you get all mad at me, let me tell you – I do not blame the parent. (Remember, I used to do the same thing.) There has been a significant change in the food landscape in the last 30 years and we are just finding out recently that it is a problem for our bodies. So, it comes down to a lack of education and, maybe even more so, a bunch of confusing advertising, misinformation, and downright bad information. If the parent truly understood about food and nutrition, there is no way they would feed their kids that type of food, not even on occasion. I do not blame them at all – where the heck do they get educated on nutrition?
So, how do you fix it? How can you help your kids eat better? Well, it all starts with the parent. The parent has to get educated on proper nutrition. Then they have to slowly start making small changes for themselves and in the home. No one can change their habbits overnight and especially not kids. It takes small incremental changes over time to make long lasting permanent change.
If you are a parent with children, start today, subscribe to this free blog. I provide helpful information so you can start to become more educated on food and nutrition. I know you want what’s best for your kids and I know you’re probably overwhelmed about how to make the changes. But, it can be done. We made the change in our household and you can do the same! The sooner you start, the sooner you will get there and the sooner your kids will benefit.
I’m also working on some classes that teach some of this basic stuff that parents just don’t know. If you’re interested in hearing about that, just make sure you sign up below for updates. I’ll make sure you get information about that when it’s released.
If you want to learn more on sugar specifically, here are a couple of posts I have done. I have a new one that will be out next week that I am super excited to share, too!