Saturday, April 17, 2010

Jamie's Food Revolution: Kids and Choice

photo credit: ratexla (flickr)

Did you get a chance to see this week's episode? If not, click here for episode 105. This week, Jamie offered some high students a choice for lunch and talked about the choice at a school assembly: his food line of pasta and salad or the pizza, burger and french fry lines. Most of the high school students tried Jamie's line- to his surprise.

He also found that the elementary school had reinstated the choice of chocolate, strawberry or regular milk for the kids. Some officials felt the positives benefits of calcium outweighed the higher level of sugar in the flavored milks. Not to anyone's surprise, most kids chose the flavored milk.

This was pretty provocative for me.

What kinds of choices should kids have when it comes to food?

When do positive benefits outweigh negative ones? How do you decide?


Anonymous said...

Yes I believe kids should have a choice.... White milk or water. Ginnie

Unknown said...

Chocolate milk should be a treat. I am always in awe of what people feed their children. I know someone who use to stir in a teaspoon of sugar into their baby's rice cereal. The child is 6mo old... how would he know the difference between plain rice cereal and sweetened?!?

Sarah said...

I think choice is important for kids at any age. But there's no reason that those choices shouldn't all be good ones on a regular basis. Indulgences are ok from time to time but I believe it's also important to have an on going dialogue about why. The ultimate goal is to produce young adults who can think and make responsible decisions for themselves.

I think Jamie had it right to give the high school kids a choice between healthy and unhealthy. If they had made a different decision then he would have had more work to do. Some of those kids will be on their own in a year making all their food choices. If they don't understand and believe in making healthy choices now they certainly won't make them later. Moving forward I'd hope that the pizza and french fries will be gone except for the homeade version every once and awhile.

Lauren said...

Sarah, age is a good point. I thought it was smart to engage the high schoolers in the dialogue. It seems like that age is often open to change and often passionate about causes that mean something to them. I thought he did a good job of empowering them.

As for elementary school kids, I think giving several good choices is the best idea. I'm not sure that at that age kids can really comprehend the long term effects of food choices. It's hard for us as adults to often connect what we're eating to how it makes us feel and what it does over time.

I didn't go to public school and rarely had school lunch. Chocolate milk wasn't really on my radar except as a special treat at home. I can't imagine drinking it everyday.

PleaseRecycle said...

I agree with what's already been said. Younger kids need options, but they should all be good options (lowfat cows milk, soy milk, or water). Treats are okay in moderation (maybe chocolate milk on Fridays?). Presentation is incredibly important for most kids (and adults too). If you have a selection of crinkle-cut fresh veggies and low-fat dip, they will likely eat it without complaint, but if you offer soggy cooked veggies, it's not going to work.

As for positives outweighing negatives, if you add sugar to something, it's considered a dessert in our house.

Lauren said...

I've also wondered about how much kids will eat if you separate out the veggies vs integrate them into the meal. Seems like it would be easy to skip the veggies or the fruit if they are all separated out.

audrey said...

Agreed. The choice for young kids should be between a few healthy options, not whatever they want. I was struck by Rhonda's comment that meals had to be accepted by the students. I think that's placing way to much power in little kids' hands, and is a big factor in the obesity epidemic.

As much I understand the rationale behind hiding veggies in kids' food (aka pureed butternut squash in the mac n cheese), it also depresses me a little. It's a bit like the argument that chocolate milk every day is OK because it has calcium. By hiding the veggies (or fruit) the opportunity to talk about and appreciate all different kinds of food is lost. My feeling is that if kids have fruit & veg as part of their diet from an early age, that's what's normal - no sneaky pureed veggies needed. Of course, I might end up eating my words if Owen turns out to be a picky eater.

I've enjoyed the show so far, though am still in shock that french fries are a vegetable. And if you dip them in ketchup, that's 2 vegetables! We have been so spoiled by Charlie's day care. They have a cook who actually cooks (last week they had tofu enchiladas!) and they kids are planting a school garden. It would be nice to see a food revolution of sorts take place in more day care and preschool settings and get the kids exposed as early as possible

Michelle said...

I thought I had feeding kids all figured out with my first and then my second, who is exposed to all the same things, comes along and is totally different. My oldest asks for red peppers and cucumbers for snacks. My youngest would eat only french fries if given the choice.

Therefore - no choice at young ages. I present the food, they can choose to eat it or not. If they choose not to eat the meal, the fall-back meal is dry cheerios. I do try to respect their tastes somewhat and not serve overly spicy or seasoned foods (since they don't like them) and always serve fruit with the meal that I know they'll like.

When they get older and don't eat every meal at home, it will be interesting to see what they do....

Lauren said...

Thanks for the good comments, Audrey and Michelle. We'll soon be figuring out this world of food when we have our little guy. :)