I think it is safe to say that, in our household, we go “against the grain” with our child’s lunches. Our focus for him is to provide a balanced nutritious meal in the form of real food. The average public school lunch is atrocious and the government requirements only contribute to obesity, brain fog, nutritional deficiencies, Type2 Diabetes, ADHD and more.
If we break down what the average American child eats during a school day, where they are forced to sit still for an average of 6 out of 7 hours, is it any wonder that we have an epidemic of adult problems in our children.
An American child usually starts their day off with a high carb processed meal of either cereal or toast or pop tarts. They are provided with added sugars in the form of low fat milk or orange juice (with little nutritional value). Some may benefit from the addition of an egg omelette. The more health conscious families may provide some low fat yogurt loaded with a fruity syrup. Before the child leaves home they have consumed more than 50 grams of sugars, with some possibly exceeding 100 grams.
School Snacks for recess, to refuel their sluggish brains and the hanger that they are developing from the dips in blood sugar, are horrible. Cookies, colorful candies chock full of artificial dyes, maybe more cereals, crackers, potato chips, or a healthy granola bar.
Lunch can’t come soon enough to refuel and is often resembling that of pizza, mac and cheese, some deli meat between 2 slices of bread, chicken nuggets, French fries. This is then washed down with a government sanctioned fruit juice or low fat milk. Dessert may be added and might look something like cookies, milk chocolate bar, fruit snacks, apple sauce, or something worse. Do these meals look familiar?
By the time 3pm rolls around the child has consumed likely between 200-300 grams of carbs, mostly processed and easily absorbed as sugar with little fiber, some protein and almost no fats. We are led to believe that:
1. This is a healthy diet
2. This is how our children are supposed to eat
3. This is “normal”
4. This is all that kids will eat
Experts will say that the children “will burn it off”. Referring back to my prior statement, they sit an average of 6 out of 7 hours at school. They are not burning it off. They’d have to run a 10k to burn all that energy off. After school many will find themselves in front of a TV or an electronic game console or an iPad or similar device, sitting for several more hours before they sit for dinner, which often looks very similar to lunch.
This cycle repeats itself, day after day, year after year. Suddenly the medical profession is shocked that we have an epidemic of diseases in children and youths. The government calls it a crisis and things need to change. Registered Dieticians, schooled by the USDA, rush to rescue our society from the ravages of these conditions by… recommending alternative carbohydrates as a substitute for the previous carbohydrates.
Can you feel the insanity? We are certainly fueling the insanity. Our children are provided with meals that are loaded with processed carbs, artificial dyes, rancid vegetable oils, damaged dairy proteins, recombinant growth hormones (in milk, cheese and yogurt from non-organic cows), poor quality proteins from processed meats, environmental toxins, all while being nutritionally depleted. This cannot be resolved by providing a colorful sugary cartoon character multivitamin.
It is inevitable that illness will follow. A body can only sustain the onslaught for so long before dysfunction develops. Following dietary guidelines from an organization that is heavily funded and lobbied by the food industry, and is managed and staffed by individuals that worked within the food industry, seems like a recipe for disaster and it has been. his will continue until a change is demanded. It may literally require a food revolution.
In my clinical practice I have now seen 10 year olds that weigh over 200 lbs and are morbidly obese, a 12 year old with a blood pressure of 180/100; teenagers with type 2 Diabetes. These are just the obvious conditions that we connect with diet. There are many [most] conditions of childhood that have all also markedly increased in prevalence that are not directly linked to diet but are connected just the same. Respiratory illnesses, recurring infections, ADHD, mood disorders, asthma, early puberty, hormone imbalances, headaches. This is where it begins.
You can make the difference. You can be the change. If you have children then you can implement changes in the home, voice your opinions to the school board and local government, make their lunches and snacks for them. Seek support from your family physician. Be proactive. Things won’t get any easier once they are teenagers and these food patterns will continue well into adulthood.
We all now live in a sick society. It may very well take a miracle to reverse it. The good news is that we don’t have to rely on anyone else to effect a change. We have more power over our circumstances than we give ourselves credit for. Be that change for you and your family. Not only can you prevent diseases, you may even be able to reverse some.