If I’m being honest, when I started our transition to healthier eating it had very little to do with the kids and everything to do with me. I was fed up with feeling tired, unmotivated and squeezing into jeans because I refused to go up another size. As I started making changes to my own diet I started to notice that I was much more focused and had a lot more energy than before. This peaked my interest in the topic of food and how it effects more than just our weight. This might sound silly and/or ignorant, but I had no idea the role food played in our brain’s ability to function. The deeper I dove into the topic the more interested I became in how food effects our kids…especially as their brains are growing and developing. Long story short, I’ve done A LOT of reading about pediatric nutrition and some of what I’ve found is really shocking.
What surprised me the most is that when I’m reading about what kids needs in terms of nutrition to grow healthy brains and bodies seems to be in stark contrast to what the USDA and other government programs promote as “healthy”. The other day I stumbled across this article and was in absolute agreement with the author. A peek at the obesity rates in the U.S. reported by the CDC reveal a disturbing trend about this epidemic.
In the article listed above the author discusses the importance of limiting sugar intake to keep insulin levels low and stable. High insulin levels not only effects weight gain, but can lead to other diseases such as Type II diabetes. The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to 4 tsp (20 grams)/kids, 6.5 tsp (32 grams)/women, 9.5 tsp (42 grams)men. The average American consumes 22 tsp/day (that’s 110 grams)! Last year as we were exploring healthier eating options, we recorded our average daily consumption of sugar. My kids were eating what I thought was “relatively” healthy, but when we got to the end of the week we discovered they were averaging close to 70 grams of sugar per day. It’s no wonder that 1 in 3 children born after the year 2000 will be diagnosed with Type II diabetes before they are 50 years old.
All of this is to give you a better understanding of the purpose behind this blog. The other day I went to school to have lunch with my son and I watched the kids fill their trays with chocolate milk, an ice cream sandwich, and a processed cheese sandwich…most kids bypassed the fruits and veggies altogether. I came home and calculated the estimated sugar content of this lunch to be around 31 grams (remember the recommended sugar intake for kids is 20 grams/day.) I was saddened to know the effect that food would have on these kids’ brains, moods, and behavior for the rest of the day. (I’m not saying this with any judgement…my kids ate this way for years.) I can’t say I blame the school district because on paper it does look like they are meeting the daily recommendations. In my opinion, the entire “nutritional system” in the U.S. needs an overhaul to reduce the amount of sugar consumed…especially by children.
So, now for today’s lunch!! Can you believe that it’s March 23rd and we have a SNOW DAY! We’ve had a brutal winter and so far, spring hasn’t been much better. The kids were beyond excited when they woke up to the news that we were snowed in at home. The boys have been on a pirate kick lately and I saw a cute pirate pizza idea on-line a long time ago (I wish I could remember where!). I thought this would be a perfect lunch for this snowy afternoon.