Since we’ve been having such good discussions on grocery budgets and planning I thought I’d extend our conversation a bit and talk about food for our families. What do you put in your grocery cart? Where do you eat when you go out? How do you know what the best food picks are for your kids?
Did you know that our children are 4 times MORE likely to be obese than we were as kids?
Did you know that we average drinking 450 calories a day? That is twice as much as 30 years ago and it packs on the pounds too!
Did you know that 1 in 3 kids born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime?
Did you know that the average American consumes 82 grams of added sugars every day which contribute to an extra 317 (empty) calories to our diets?
I learned all this from the book Eat This, Not That For Kids! By David ZincZenko.
This has got to be one of the most enlightening books on eating for families and kids. As I was reading the book I kept telling my husband all the interesting facts in it. One of the biggest points the book makes is that one of the major (if not BIGGEST) problems is how we are duped when it comes to the marketing strategies that food companies use to get us to buy our products. Not only that, but all the unnecessary additives like High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) add empty calories and adjust our palettes to preferring sweet things. Which then makes us consume more sugar. We have to become sleuths and read the labels so we know what we are really getting when we buy food at the store.
The book is very encouraging about eating the rainbow when it comes to foods and explains all the good aspects of the red, yellow, orange, blue/purple, and green foods. Even though we know that eating carrots will help our eyes, I think it is a good reminder to read about all the other benefits of the fruits and veggies out there.
The chapter in the book called Eat Out, Eat Right will blow your socks off! Did you know that restaurants make up only ¼ of our meals but account for more than 1/3 of our calories?
Did you know that the typical serving size for soft drinks has increased by 49 calories, French fries 68 and hamburgers by 97?
The eating out chapter has a list of the top 20 WORST foods for kids to eat at a restaurant. Reading the caloric intake is scary. Just for a quiz (and you can check my answer in the book) which is better to eat at Arby’s?
An Arby’s Melt with roast beef smothered in cheddar OR the Roasted Turkey and Swiss sandwich?
If you said the Turkey Sandwich you were wrong! That sandwich has 708 calories, 30g fat and 1,677 grams of sodium. The Arby’s Melt has 303 calories, 12 g fat and 921 g sodium. Blow me away!
It doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it? When it comes to eating out, it is more difficult to know what is in our food. The bread for the sandwich has a lot of added sugar in it and is smothered in mayo. This chapter will amaze you with some of the better food choices not only for your kids, but for you as well. It also has a section with generic menus for all the different kinds of restaurants (diner, Italian, Mexican, pizzeria etc). Very helpful.
The chapter that covers the supermarket is very helpful as well. It goes through how to look at the labels and provides instruction on what to avoid. The book makes the point that the fewer ingredients in it the better. We usually shop the perimeter of the store and don’t spend too much time in the middle isles, but I still found a lot of the information in this chapter helpful.
For example, did you know that organic ketchup has 3X more lycopene (cancer fighting agent found in tomatoes and watermelon) in it than non-organic? I usually don’t purchase organic foods (even though I’d love to!) due to the expense but I will probably start buying organic ketchup. The way the book works is that the left side of the page has all the “Eat This” food and the right side has the “Not That” foods. It is so cool because it compares a lot of the major brands for you with the most common kinds of foods we buy: cereal, yogurt, granola bars, breakfast condiments, bread, chips, deli meats, crackers, cookies, juice, grains, soups, canned foods, frozen foods, ice cream.
The next chapter covers School Cafeterias and vending machines. It bothers me that our schools are only increasing the problem of childhood obesity by having junk food available in the cafeterias and vending machines. I don’t think it will change until we, the parents, start demanding healthier options for our children. The statistics in the school food section was scary! However, it is good to know that there are some better choices out there. It does inspire you to pack those lunches, which brings us to the next section. He has some really helpful suggestions for packing lunches and dinner meals. There are even some recipes!
I bought this book last Sunday and have been devouring it ever since. Then on Tuesday or Wednesday I happened to catch part of Oprah and the author of this book was on the show talking about it. Keep your eye out for this book! (There is also an Eat This, Not That Survival for the Supermarket that is really good too!)
We eat pretty healthy at our house but there are still ways we can improve and I am definitely taking that book with us when we do go out to eat at a restaurant! I want to teach my kids how to make healthy choices. It does feel like an uphill battle sometimes but it is worth it. It makes me so sad when I see how much heavier children are today than they were when I was a kid. And to hear about all the major health problems that children are dealing with because of obesity makes my heart break. I don’t want to cast blame because I think there are many factors that are contributing to such a huge epidemic—I’m just glad to know that we can do something about it.