School Lunches, what should be done?

yea.... It hasn't changed much

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This week is Nation School Lunch Week.  Our schools have the job of feeding our children lunch during the school year.  This is a job that I cannot image being a small undertaking.  My children go to a small rural school, Kindergarten through sixth grade, there is about 630 children attending that the school system needs to feed 5 days a week.

I understand why schools serve the foods that they do.  Most kids are picky and they are trying to get them to eat what they know kids will eat.  I see no problem with that.  I myself have one child that is extremely picky, and know that it is a fight most nights to get her to even attempt to try anything that doesn’t look like a hot dog or mac n cheese.  I couldn’t imagine doing that with 600 kids.

Many in this country are trying to put the blame of childhood obesity on school lunches.  personally I am going to blame helicopter parenting, convince of fast food, busy lifestyles, and technology.  Children need to get up and get out to play, I have seen mothers on message boards saying that they won’t let their children outside by themselves even at 12.  I’m sure that these parents have their childs best interest at heart, but with all of the responsibilities that come with being an adult how much time can you really spend outside just watching your child play?  Our busy lifestyles have a lot of us reaching for prepackaged meals or stopping at one of the fast food restaurants that seem to be on every corner anymore.  Most of us don’t have time to cook, and in order to just get something in us and our kids we go for what is convent and not necessarily the healthiest.  Technology from the internet to the 798 channels on cable tv to video games keeps more children in the house than anything else.  Kids are happy to sit on the couch and hold virtual races rather than go outside and have an actual race with other kids, or to see what is going to happen in tonight’s episode of “Teen Mom” so they are in the loop at school the next day.  Today’s children eat the same amount of meals at school that previous generations did, you cannot say that school lunches are what is making them obese when for generations they didn’t.

Hungry kids are not going to learn as much as full children.  The government started the free/reduced lunch and breakfast programs for this reason.  I can understand the wanting to feed our children healthier meals at school, but at what cost is that going to come?  Our schools are already under funded in many places, the arts are being cut out of school days to save money.  What next can we cut so our children can eat the fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy foods that many are pushing for?  For many places in the United States fresh produce is not readily available year round.  It must be shipped in from other states and some time countries, this in turn raises the cost of that salad many are trying to get to be the main entrée on our children’s lunch menu.

As I look at my own children’s lunch menu this week I see a mixture of different foods that would cater to different taste buds.  Every day there is a vegetable and a fruit.  I know that these are probably going to be coming either from a can or frozen for a couple of different reasons. 1 the growing season in Indiana is over, in fact we’ve even had our first frost of the year.  2. The cost of these items fresh for that many students is going to be more than is allotted in any school budget.  Finally 3. Can you imagine how long it would take to snap green beans or shell peas for that many kids?

Many parents will tell me that I am letting my children eat “crap” at school and I should be packing their lunch.  To them I ask what is the difference between me putting an individual applesauce in their lunch box and the school putting it on their tray.  I’m realistic, there is no way for my kids to heat up a lunch that I send with them.  While I don’t mind sending a cold lunch on a day that they are having something that they don’t like at school, I do not want them eating cold lunch every day.  They would get bored with it, and it nutritionally would not be as diverse as what they are getting at school.

I know that something does need to be done about school lunches.  I’m not real sure at this moment what that is.  I am torn between wanting kids to eat healthy and the schools offering items that they will actually eat.  The cost of what it would cost for fresh items plus the extra personal to prepare those items and with our country already in the red.  The final thing is wanting my children to eat healthy, but at what cost is that going to be to me each week while handing out lunch money?

Finally, they find evidence that ADHD is genetic

Brainscan of brains with and without ADHD

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Today I finally heard the press release that I have been waiting for my whole life.  A study has finally found that ADHD is genetic.  My Grandmother, Mother, or I could have told the scientists that did this study that was true before they spent millions on it.  I come from a very long line of ADHD people, and I myself have ADHD as do probably at least one of my kids, the jury’s still out on the other two.

Researchers have found that children with ADHD have more large, rare copy-number variants in their genes than children without the disease.  It looks like it will still be years before they can do a genetic test to see if your child is ADHD or just a normal child, if any child is normal, but the initial research has been done already, and I’m sure that someone is already working on how to genetically test for this.  This study is going to be able to get tied into other studies that are proving some diseases to be genetic.  These same variants have already been found to be genetic markers for predisposition to schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and other neuro diseases.

Males are more likely to posses these genetic variants than females are.  You would only have to take a look at my Grandfather, Uncle, Brothers, and Son to see that this is true.  I seem to be the only female in the family with ADHD, unless of course one of my girls or my brothers have girls and they end up having the family genes.  The shocking thing is that 1 in every 100 children have this disorder, and yet most parents think of it has a lack of discipline or a problem eating too much junk food.

The best thing about this research, to me at least, is that it proves that it isn’t what you are feeding your children that are making them hyperactive.  There was a study done in England that I saw a few years ago that disproved the theory that sugar makes children hyper.  Unfortunately a lot of parents it seems did not see the study and this rumor is still floating around the mom communities today.  If your child is already predisposed to have ADHD then if they eat a cupcake it isn’t going to make them more hyper

As an adult with ADHD I can give parents some advice on how to raise a child with ADHD so they become productive members of society.  The advice would be this “Invest in a house with a very large yard and a hyper active dog.”  My parents own 10 acres, every day it wasn’t below freezing I had my mother kicking us out of the house to get fresh air.  Now that I have my own ADHD child I know that it wasn’t for our benefit, it was for the benefit of my mothers sanity that she kicked us out.  I’m so glad that my kids like fresh air, and we have an acre yard.  Now I just need the hyper active dog, and I’ll be all set.

Our favorite “all natural” ice cream may not be

Cherry garcia

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Another health advocacy group has decided to ruin one of women’s favorite snacks.  Ben and Jerry’s is the newest target on the not so healthy radar.  It seems that since they have the words “All Natural” on their products and some of those ingredients weren’t in raw form the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is asking the ice cream makers to change their label.

Now I’m not sure who actually believed that any of their ice creams were healthy for you.  You might be able to get away with the cherries in Cherry Garcia, or the bananas in Chunky Monkey being healthy but with all that chocolate, no one was thinking that it was the best thing you could have grabbed at 4am when you needed a sweet fix.

With the CSPI winning a battle against my Half Baked ice cream, I’m starting to get a little annoyed with the health watch groups.  We all know that we shouldn’t be buying and consuming half of what we do.  As a nation our middles are growing and retired generals are trying to get school lunches to be healthier for the future defense of our country.  Has it really gotten to the point where we have to have everything labeled as either health food or junk in order for it to not come under fire from some group?

Everything in moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle.  I don’t need 2 words taken off of my Ben and Jerry’s to tell me that it’s not all natural, most of us probably never even noticed that they were on there in the first place.  So thank you CSPI for making me aware that ice cream was not all natural.  Now if you will excuse me, I have a carton of ice cream to eat.