December 19th, 2010 - Jill Ettinger
A new study conducted by Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity revealed something startling about kids: they’re not as prone to choosing sugar as we may think. At least when it comes to breakfast cereals.
Read More:Kids Prefer Less Sugary Breakfast Cereal, Study Finds
September 27th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Americans have earned an “F” on their fruit and vegetable report card, according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Researchers found we’re eating less fruit than we did in 2000, while vegetable consumption really hasn’t changed.
The CDC’s goals have been modest: 2+ servings of fruit and 3+ servings of vegetables per day. But only 33% of us were found to eat enough fruit, and only 25% of us consumed enough vegetables.
Read More:We’re Not Eating Our Fruits and Veggies
August 12th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
I’ve never understood the appeal of Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts. Even as a kid, I thought they were pretty awful.
Read the label on a box of Pop-Tarts, and the mystery may be solved. Your basic Unfrosted Blueberry Pop-Tart weighs in at 210 calories, with 16 g sugar, 2 g saturated fat and less than 1 g fiber. The main ingredient is enriched flour, which sounds reasonable enough. But the next two ingredients are corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup, followed by dextrose, soybean and palm oil, cracker meal, wheat starch, salt, dried blueberries, dried grapes, dried apples, leavening, citric acid, cornstarch, modified wheat starch, soy lecithin, natural and artificial blueberry flavor, xanthan gum, caramel color, red #40, vitamin a palmitate, niacinamide, reduced iron, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin b6), blue #1, blue #2, riboflavin (vitamin b2), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin b1) and folic acid.
In a sure sign of consumerism run amok, fans can now enjoy Pop-Tart “sushi” and other weird concoctions at the new 3,200-sq.-ft. flagship Pop-Tart Store and Cafe in New York City’s Times Square. I won’t even bother figuring out the nutritional content and calorie count of the well-publicized Fluffer Butter: marshmallow fluff sandwiched between two Pop-Tarts. It’s also unclear to me why people would pay $12 to assemble a custom Pop-Tart dozen. They can buy two eight-packs for half the price at a local grocery store.
Several natural-food companies have produced organic toaster pastries modeled after Pop-Tarts. But a Nature’s Path Unfrosted Blueberry Toaster Pastry, also 210 calories, contains 18 g sugar (more than a Kellogg’s Pop-Tart), 2 g saturated fat (the same as a Pop-Tart) and only 1 g fiber. The ingredient list: organic wheat flour, organic evaporated cane juice, organic evaporated cane juice invert, organic palm oil, organic apples, organic whole wheat flour, organic corn starch, organic vital wheat gluten, organic dextrose, organic blueberries, organic blueberry flavor, organic rice starch, sea salt, leavenings (baking soda, cream of tartar), organic rice bran extract, organic honey, organic molasses, citric acid, organic vanilla flavor.
Amy’s makes 99% organic, 160-calorie apple and strawberry Toaster Pops, which respectively contain 10 g and 11 g sugar, 2 g fiber and no saturated fat. The ingredient list (apple): organic unbleached wheat flour with organic wheat germ and organic wheat bran, organic apples, filtered water, organic evaporated cane juice, organic sunflower seed meal, organic apple juice concentrate, organic high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, organic cornstarch, sea salt, yeast, spices.
Ultimately, a healthful breakfast should include a low-fat protein and high-fiber whole grain. Traditional children’s cereals are a joke, so shop for a low-sugar, organic, whole-grain alternative. Check out this basic recipe for Cracked Wheat Cereal, or treat yourself to a Southwestern Scramble and Pumpkin-Maple Oatmeal.
Read More:Do We Really Need a Pop-Tarts Shrine?
July 10th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Healthcare and America’s obesity epidemic have been high priorities for President Obama.
On March 23, he signed a law that requires the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to implement a federal menu labeling program, which applies to certain restaurants, coffee shops, delis, movie theaters, bakeries, ice cream shops and vending machines.
- Facilities with 20+ locations that offer substantially the same menu must list calorie content on interior and drive-through menus and menu boards.
- Other nutrition information—total calories, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates, sugars, dietary fiber and total protein—must be made available in writing, upon request.
- Vending operators with 20+ machines must disclose products’ calorie content.
The FDA must issue proposed regulations by March 2011. In the meantime, the agency has invited consumers, the food industry, state and local governments, and other interested parties to submit comments and suggestions. The deadline is Sept. 7.
Take the opportunity to get involved. To view the full document and submit comments electronically, click here.
Read More:How Should Federal Menu Labeling Requirements Be Implemented?
July 7th, 2010 - Scott Shaffer
Tom Colicchio, the head judge of Bravo’s popular Top Chef show, came out in support of the Child Nutrition Act currently in a House committee. Colicchio is the son of a lunch lady himself, and he said that he’s never had any trouble getting kids to eat healthy food—it just has to taste good.
Colicchio isn’t alone in calling for school lunch reform. Rachael Ray went to DC to lobby lawmakers on this issue. Brit Jamie Oliver has made it his primary objective over the last few years to try to change how America thinks about school lunch. Michelle Obama has been battling child obesity ever since she moved into the White House. Revered chef Alice Waters has done a lot to make school lunches tastier and more nutritious.
There’s a lot at stake here. Children who are fed junk don’t perform well in the classroom, and they develop bad eating habits that last long after graduation. These bad eating habits lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and cost billions. If we want healthy, educated citizens, we need to feed our kids as we would want to be fed.
Read More:Bravo’s Top Chef Tom Colicchio Supports Better School Lunch
March 31st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Numerous public health groups are praising the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry for unanimously approving a bipartisan bill that establishes federal nutrition standards for foods sold on school campuses.
“Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 57 million—or 1 in 5 Americans—have pre-diabetes,” says Christine T. Tobin, RN, MBA, president of health care and education for the American Diabetes Association. “If current trends continue, one in three children will face a future with diabetes. Sensible nutrition policies like this one, which will provide our students with healthy food choices in their schools, will help us reverse these trends. Starting with strong nutrition standards in our nation’s schools will put us on the path to stop diabetes.”
“Obesity, which results from poor diet and physical inactivity, is a significant and growing American problem that begins in childhood,” says Molly Daniels, interim president of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network.
“American Cancer Society research clearly shows that obesity correlates with and causes cancer,” she adds. “Adoption of national school nutrition standards will be an important tool for obesity prevention for children.”
“Each school day, parents entrust schools to care for their children all across our nation,” says National PTA President Charles J. Saylors. “Ensuring that salty, fatty junk foods and sugary drinks are no longer an option in our schools truly honors that trust and opens students up to healthier options.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
Read More:Public Health Groups Applaud School Nutrition Guidelines
March 26th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry has unanimously approved the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which reauthorizes the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, while also establishing federal nutrition standards for foods sold on campuses.
In an attempt to address epidemic levels of childhood obesity, the bill requires the Secretary of Agriculture to designate school standards consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
“As a mother of two boys, it’s important to know that healthy, more nutritious foods will be more widely available throughout school campuses,” said Committee Chair Blanche Lincoln (D-AR).
“When it comes to what our kids eat at school, we need to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” added Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA). “That means ensuring that kids have the ability to choose from foods that meet science-based nutrition standards. This agreement provides a commonsense approach to healthy eating, and it starts in a place where our kids spend the majority of their day: their schools. With childhood obesity and diabetes on the rise, it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
“Current nutrition standards haven’t been updated since my children were in school in the 1970s,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). “Today, my grandchildren are in school and are faced with the same junk food choices that should have been replaced years ago. It’s long past time to bring these school food standards into the 21st century, and I am pleased that, with this agreement, we are one step closer to passing these changes into law.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Free for All: Fixing School Food in America
Read More:School Nutrition Guidelines Pass Senate Committee
January 21st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
One-third of American children are either overweight or obese, signaling a disconnect in their relationship with food.
As a parent, you can teach your child to eat a healthful organic diet, but lecturing is not the way to go.
Here are some tips from James O. Hill, PhD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado, an adviser on obesity to the National Institutes of Health and coauthor of The Step Diet.
- Model good behavior. Practice eating until you’re satisfied—not full. Over time, this will become a family habit.
- Talk to your kids about wholesome ingredients. Involve them as much as possible in making dinner or breakfast. Kids are often eager to help, and they’re more likely to eat food they’ve prepared.
- Encourage your kids to help with meal planning. Take them shopping, and encourage their creativity. Children feel proud when they learn a life skill and understand the benefits of good nutrition.
- Move! Become more active, and encourage your children to make moving a habit. Find activities the whole family can enjoy.
Stories You May Have Missed
Read More:Cook With Your Kids
December 13th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
About a month ago, we posted an important question: Do you eat deskfast?
That’s the morning meal you consume at your desk, and it’s rife with nutritional pitfalls.
“For some people, deskfast automatically means something that is picked up at a fast-food restaurant, coffee bar or convenience store on the way to work,” explains registered dietitian Karen Collins, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research.
While our last deskfast post offered healthful solutions, we have a sneaking suspicion that some readers remain time-challenged and continue to struggle with the allure of a hot grab-and-go meal.
If so, check out Collins’ helpful tips:
- Identify your top breakfast choices ahead of time so you don’t grab the first thing you see.
- Avoid biscuits and croissants loaded with sausage, bacon, cheese and eggs. They’re high in calories and can supply nearly a whole day’s saturated fat and at least half a day’s sodium. Instead, pick up a small-size, meat-free breakfast sandwich on an English muffin, toast or small deli roll. An egg-and-cheese filling is fine. Whenever possible, opt for whole-grain breads.
- A jumbo muffin, Danish or scone weighs in at 350 to 500+ calories, which includes 8 to 12 teaspoons of sugar. These bakery temptations also invite an energy crash about an hour after you eat them. Instead, check local natural and organic cafés for oatmeal, and combine it with little packets of nuts and/or dried fruit. Add an extra piece of fruit or a small glass of juice or skim-milk latté, and you’ll keep your calorie count in the 400 to 425 zone, which works for most adults.
- Reduced-fat bakery items may appear healthier, but they often contain equal amounts of sugar and refined grains. The added punch line: You may not be saving that many calories.
- Fruit-and-yogurt parfaits can be a healthful option, as long as the yogurt isn’t too high in sugar and the granola isn’t piled on with a trowel.
- Eat mindfully when at your desk. Focus on your food as you eat, not on the papers stacked up in your in-basket. You’ll reduce stress, which means you’ll be less likely to grab a nutritionally bankrupt mid-morning snack.
Read More:6 Tips for Eating Breakfast at Your Desk
November 11th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
You’re late for work, skip breakfast and grab something when you arrive at your job.
In 1996, the dictionary listed a new word for this meal: deskfast.
Approximately 20% of us indulge in deskfast, according to registered dietitian Karen Collins, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research. The trick is to choose whole—not junk—foods.
“A strategy for a high-energy, health-promoting breakfast is to include a good source of protein plus a whole grain and a fruit or vegetable,” Collins says. “For protein, consider dairy or soy versions of skim milk, low-fat yogurt or reduced-fat cheese, an egg, peanut butter, walnuts or almonds. For a less traditional breakfast, grab leftover chicken or chili.
“Juice is one quick way to get vitamins and antioxidants,” she adds, “but if you’re trying to lose weight or have trouble with mid-morning hunger pangs, studies suggest that solid fruit [or vegetables] may keep you satisfied longer and for fewer calories.”
Fresh fruit can pose the greatest deskfast challenge, unless you work close to a store that carries natural and organic foods. Collins urges readers to wash or cut up fruit the night before.
Packing a complete deskfast the night before is the most economical option.
“In 5 to 10 minutes, you can make a peanut butter and fruit sandwich on whole wheat, a container of whole-grain cereal with separate containers of milk and fruit to combine at work, or grab dinner leftovers,” she says.
Read More:Do You Eat Deskfast?