sugar high…

Last night I watched the premiere of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and I’m happy to report that it was everything I hoped it would be. Jamie is doing his best to alert parents of the low quality of food being served in most public schools around the nation. The start of the show was hard to stomach as Jamie showed how convenience meats sold in the U.S. are manufactured. I won’t get into the details, but let me just say there were leftover fat trimmings and ammonia involved. From there he went onto focus on the amount of processed sugar schools are providing to kids on a daily basis. One milk executive rationalized having flavored milk in schools because it’s a way to get kids to drink milk. I wanted to bang my head against a wall at that point. Of course kids will eat/drink almost anything if you sugar coat it enough!

So, why is sugar such a big deal? One out of three children born after the year 2000 will be diagnosed with Type II diabetes before they are 50 years old.  Not to mention the rising obesity rates among children in the United States.  The American Heart Association recommends school aged children ages 4-8 consume no more than 3 teaspoons a day (12 grams) and teens ages 10-18 get no more than 5-8 teaspoons (20-32 grams) of added sugar per day. Studies show that children ages 1-3 are getting on eating an average of 12 teaspoons (48 grams) sugar/day, children ages 4-8 are eating an average of 21 teaspoons (84 grams) sugar/day, and teens ages 14-18 are eating an average of (hold onto your seats for this one) 34 teaspoons (136 grams) sugar/day! Is it any wonder diabetes diagnoses and obesity rates are on the rise?

The national standards used to determine what constitutes a healthy lunch in public schools doesn’t include fiber, sodium or sugar content. So long as schools meet a minimum calorie level, 1/3 the daily requirement of calcium, iron, vitamin A and C, have a maximum of 30% of calories from fat, a 1/2-3/4 cup of fruit & veggie along with 8 ounces of milk they are within the “healthy standards”. In my opinion, the effect sugar has on both the body and the brain is too important to ignore. Piling sugar filled foods on our children’s lunch trays is setting them up for failure on so many levels. The scary thing is that sugar has become so common and so accepted in our society that it’s really hard to determine which foods would have less sugar.  Companies often package and market their foods in such a way that make it nearly impossible to know if it’s loaded with sugar or not.   Let me give you an example…take a look at the lunches below. Which lunch does your gut tell you contains more sugar? Lunch A or Lunch B?

If you guessed Lunch B…WRONG!  While Lunch A looks like it has a variety of healthy options, there are added sugars galore in each of those foods.  Lunch B, while still not a “healthy lunch”, contains less sugar than Lunch A.  In reality, neither option is a good option and that’s why I feel so passionate about the public schools needing a complete overhaul when it comes to the quality of food they are serving our children.

Of course there are other factors that go into making a healthy meal. We need to consider what else is in the foods being served to our kids. While a sloppy joe might look healthy, it could very well be filled with sugar, additives and who knows how the meat was manufactured.  However, today I just wanted to focus on the topic of sugar and the impact it is having on our youth.

I do want to take a moment to thank my wonderful husband.  Today is my birthday and when he asked what I wanted as a gift, I told him all I wanted was uninterrupted time to write a big blog post here on This Lunch Rox.  So here it is…this is my birthday present and I LOVE IT!  I love having time to write about something I am so passionate about and sharing information with anyone who is interested.

And here’s a peek at today’s lunch:  roast beef, spinach and cheese roll-up in Joseph’s Lavash bread, celery/pb (substitute sunbutter if peanut allergies are an issue), cantaloupe, mini muffins, string cheese

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15 Responses to sugar high…

  1. Kate says:

    Thank you for such an informative post, and for all of your creative lunch box ideas. They’ve inspired me to step it up a notch for my own childrens’ lunches.

  2. Annie Farrar says:

    Well HAPPY BIRTHDAY! AND—might I add, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog! My son is 13 months old and I’m striving to feed him healthy food. There’s just so much confusion out there. If I label would just say SUGAR, it would help, but they hide so many bad things in big words to confuse consumers, it’s hard to know exactly what’s in stuff. But your blog encourages me to strive to provide the best for my son!

  3. Tonya says:

    Jamie, thanks so much for sharing all of your lunches in such a creative and useful format.

    I’ve been intrigued by the bento boxes but am curious how you keep the food cool? Are you putting them inside an insulated lunch box with an ice pack?

    What about drinks? I was sending water in an insulated thermos but it is pretty bulky and heavy for the kiddos to carry back and forth.

  4. Natalie says:

    Love it… and HAPPY BIRTHDAY! You and “the other Jamie” inspired me to pack my own son’s lunch today. Funny how the option for lunch at his school today was Sloppy Joes, and I thought… “Well, that’s not too bad” but I thought against it. Then you mentioned Sloppy Joes in your Blog! Love it! Thanks for the inspiration and information. Will keep watching both of you Jamies!

  5. Katie says:

    I just wanted to throw this out there for you and any others who are passionate about what we feed our kids in school. USDA is taking comments that will help them adapt policies about school meals after the adoption of some more stringent nutrition standards . Today’s the last day you can submit a comment, but if you are interested in doing so, this organization has drafted a sample letter and steps that walk you through how to submit a comment to USDA:

    http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5118/p/salsa/web/common/public/content?content_item_KEY=5336#tell

    Or you can go directly to the comment form here, and draft your own:

    http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FNS-2007-0038-0001

    If you’re passionate about what our kids eat in school, I urge you to take the time to submit thoughtful comments!

  6. On no!!! I did not like this post!!!! I totally thought lunch A would be so much healthier. Those are the lunches I pack for my kids. I can’t believe I spend 20 minutes every morning making lunches that are more sugary than “lunch B” lunches. I need to find a happy medium for making every day healthy lunches that have less sugar but at easy!

  7. E says:

    Happy Birthday!! I am so thankful you are able to write this blog. I have been changing my families eating ever since. So thank you… I know you write about lunches, and people probably ask you to do a million things. But is there anyway that you can either post about or e-mail me about different snacks that you feed your kids?

  8. kim burnham says:

    great info here! thanks for sharing and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  9. Teri says:

    GREAT entry Jamie. AND…HAPPY BIRTHDAY! :)

  10. Addie says:

    Happy Birthday!

  11. Happy Birthday!

    I am delighted that Jamie has flown across the pond to help spread awareness of what our children eat. I am a huge fan of Jamie!

    In response to the comment previously about drinks, I often freeze foil pouch drinks. These act as an ice block until lunchtime and you have a delicious ice-cold drink too.

    Enjoy the rest of your day!

  12. beth says:

    Jamie
    Love your post. Love Jamie’s show. He was instrumental in helping to change our thinking with his show last year. My daughter saw the chicken nugget episode and will not touch a nugget now unless we know it is real. She rarely buys school lunches becuase we’re not sure what the meat is and she only drinks the white milk. We are all making better choices and improving our eating habits. We have a long way to go to get to where we’d like to be but things like your lunch rox posts and Jamie’s show are helping to give us a boost in the right direction!

  13. Alison says:

    Became a fan of yours as a photographer. Now even more of a fan with this awesome new blog! I can imagine how time consuming it is… that’s when you know it’s a passion! I have one kiddo that was diagnosed a ADHD recently & another that is on the autism spectrum, so I’m diving into this food thing big time. Your blog has been so helpful to me & inspiring! Thx!!!
    By the way, made the chocolate chip cookies you posted a little while back… huge hit with the kids!!
    http://comfybelly.com/2010/10/chocolate-chip-cookies-2/

  14. Linda Nkosi says:

    Thanks so much for your website – I don’t have kids yet (hope to soon) but just seeing all the work you do and the time you put into food and making good choices, (and seeing how it can be fun too!) has helped motivate me to want to prepare more food at home and in healthier ways. Thanks!!

  15. I missed your birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY Jamie!!! You are an amazing woman, and your willingness to share your information and tips along this journey is priceless. As a gal who is battling elevated sugars herself, I look to you and your blog for tips and help. I want to make sure that I make changes for my entire family now. My gut would have told me A before… scary.

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