Nutrition fiction for kids
Posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 8:01 pm
By: Lisa Smartt
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that foods eaten in a more “natural” state are probably better for your health than highly processed foods which roll off an assembly line shaped like cartoon characters. For example, eating a raw carrot counts as a serving of yellow vegetables. Eating a pile of Cheez-its™ does not count as a serving of yellow vegetables. However, because it has the word “cheez” in the title, it clearly does count as a serving of dairy. I’ve learned to work the system.
My kids recently received a packet of “nutrition propaganda” from a friend. This material was designed to promote the consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy. I’m all for the consuming of fruit and dairy. My kids actually eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables. I believe it has real health benefits. But, let’s not lie to the next generation about the power of food. Here are a few lines of the crafty little book poem touting the benefits of healthy eating: “My pajamas feel a bit too small. My sneakers do not fit at all. I am much too big for my old car seat. … And it’s all because of the food I eat!” OK. Back up the truck. It’s time for a little truth in advertising here. The kid is not too big for his shoes because he ate a carrot and a yogurt bar. The Massai people in Africa are taller than average Americans. And, you guessed it. They don’t eat a lot of salad and fresh fruit.
If the Massai people used car seats, they would all quite quickly grow out of the car seats … even though they had never seen a Gala apple or a kiwi or a head of Romaine lettuce. And incidentally, let’s put a stop once and for all to the “eat your peas and you’ll become big and strong” propaganda. If your mom is four feet 11 inches and your dad is five feet five inches, eating peas will not make you Michael Jordan. Even if you eat the peas with a pound of raw carrots, a pound of broccoli, half a lean chicken, a quart of skim milk and a cup of sugar-free yogurt, you’ll still not be Michael Jordan. Height is genetic. My dad is six feet eight inches tall. Kids of America, I hate to break it to you. My dad eats Dunkin Sticks™ for breakfast. Even if he had eaten Dunkin Sticks for breakfast his whole entire life, he’d still be six feet eight inches tall. Is it good for your cholesterol to eat Dunkin Sticks for breakfast? No. But, does fruit consumption at breakfast make you out-grow your pajamas? Sorry, no.
Please don’t write to me saying that I don’t care about the health and welfare of the next generation. Everyone should eat fruit because fruit has fiber and it’s good for your colon. Everyone should eat fresh vegetables because they possess Vitamins A and C. But, don’t tell kids that they grew out of their car seat because they’ve been eating a lot of yogurt lately. They need to be able to trust you. After all, some day you’ll want to sit down with them and have a long talk about the birds and the bees. I know. I know. That’s a whole other column.
Editor’s note: Lisa Smartt’s column appears each Wednesday in the Friends and Neighbors section of The Messenger. Mrs. Smartt is the wife of Philip Smartt, the University of Tennessee at Martin parks and recreation and forestry professor, and is mother to two boys, Stephen and Jonathan. She is a freelance writer and speaker. Her book “The Smartt View: Life, Love, and Cluttered Closets” is available at The Messenger, The University of Tennessee at Martin bookstore or by mail for $10, plus $2 shipping. Send checks to Lisa Smartt, 300 Parrott Road, Dresden TN 38225. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. For more information about Lisa Smartt, visit her website lisasmartt.com.
Published in The Messenger 6.30.10