Monday, March 21, 2011

Let Them--and Me--Eat Cake on My Birthday

Although I am an RD, I've never been known to be the killjoy of the dinner party. I'm pretty permissive with myself and others when I'm out to dinner. I'm a big believer in living life to the fullest, and to me, that includes eating dessert when a delicious one presents itself. I think that it's quite alright to indulge and celebrate with your taste buds on occasion (but not every day), especially on one's birthday.

As I chatted with various well-wishers today, my birthday, some were surprised to find out that yes, I planned to have a decadent birthday cake (probably chocolate Oreo) and that I'd be sharing it with my family at home. The mental tally of sugar, fat and calories will sting a lot less than the 39 candles will. (We'll leave the "healthy eating at every age" blog for another day.)

I know that there is a lot of discussion about whether or not children should be able to bring treats to school on their birthdays and whether school celebrations should be marked by sugar explosions. For schools that seem to have a birthday or so a month in each class, the treats would probably not be too harmful. On the other hand, many parents I speak to perceive that their kids are "always eating junk" at school parties. They wish that teachers would insist upon celebrating with other types of fun, such as games, activities or healthy treats.

Although I still wax nostalgic about my mom's lovely birthday cupcakes, which were lovingly delivered to school each March 21 of my childhood, today I side with having your birthday bonanza outside of school. If we decide to declare our schools health zones and treat schools as what they are--places of learning (in every respect, including health and nutrition), then we need to forego junk food in school. If we weren't dealing with an overweight/obesity crisis, I would probably be softer on this point. Soft, like a moist, sprinkle-laden, frosted cupcake.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Better Nutrition in Schools - Continued...

The bill that improves school lunch, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, was signed into law by President Obama late last year. The USDA has written a "proposed rule," which means a proposed set of regulations that would serve as the rules by which schools and food operators must operate. April 13, 2011 is the deadline to submit public comments on the proposed rule to the USDA.

Members of Congress are gathering their constituents' opinions on the proposed rule, which, in short, would: increase fruits and vegetables in meals, lower sodium significantly over time, and lower saturated fat in meals over time. Congress is also interested in constituents' opinions on regulating the type of parent-school communication that would help protect allergic children, especially those at risk for severe reactions from such foods.

If you have comments, call your Member of Congress. Your opinion matters and picking up the phone, no matter what your opinion, calls attention to this important matter.