School Lunch Brings Controversy

Despite the fact that it is a practice that’s been going on for the last 6 years, there was an uproar in mid-April when a news story broke about a public Chicago school that requires students to buy their lunches in the cafeteria.

The principal claims the rule is to keep students from making unhealthy choices and parents from packing unhealthy lunches. Unless there are health restrictions, parents must send $2.25 for their children to buy the school lunch.

Superman Lunch Boxes

I have to assume that these school lunches must be better than what they were serving when I was in elementary school: your general rotation of square pizzas, chicken patties, and tasteless hamburgers.

Is keeping the students "safe" from sugary sodas and bags of chips reason enough to mandate a parent can’t send food from home? People have such a wide range of what they consider healthy.

It’s still the same controversy that’s been spinning for years: should the government be able to outlaw trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, genetically modified organisms? Or should people be responsible for their own nutrition?

Where do you stand on this? We’d love to hear your (respectful) thoughts in the comments.

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.

Fit & Trim Kids

In this month’s issue of ParentLife, Evelyn Hanes gave some very helpful guidelines for healthy weight loss in our "A Healthy Life" department. But what about the kids? What should children do to maintain a healthy weight? Check out the following guidelines for kids from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

  • July_12_eating.jpgEat five fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Participate in one hour of physical exercise each day.
  • Limit screen time to less than two hours each day.
  • Limit sugar sweetened drinks.
  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Choose low-fat dairy products (ages 2 and up).
  • Eat meals together as a family.
  • Limit fast food, take out, and eating out.
  • Prepare foods at home as a family.
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and fiber.

Following these guidelines for your child will help him grow healthy and strong … and they are good guildelines for the whole family!

What healthy habits does your family have that might help other families who want to lead a healthier lifestyle? Share your ideas with us by leaving a comment!

Homemade vs. Store-bought Baby Food

In the April 2010 issue of ParentLife, dietitian Beth Bence Reinke explores the pros and cons of homemade baby food and store-bought baby food. Maybe you have decided to make your own baby food, but what foods work best?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends starting iron-fortified rice cereal when your baby is 4 to 6 months old. Then add one new food every 2 to 3 days.


For ages 6 to 7 months, these starter foods work well for making easy-to-digest, pureed, homemade baby food:

  • Mashed banana (no need to cook)
  • Cooked fruits: pears, apples, peaches, apricots, plums
  • Cooked vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, butternut squash, green beans
  • Cooked meats: turkey, chicken, lamb, beef (no processed meats)

For ages 8 to 12 months consider adding the following foods.

  • Cooked, puréed vegetables: broccoli florets, cauliflower, summer squash
  • Cooked, puréed legumes like split peas and lentils
  • O-shaped oat cereal, teething biscuits
  • Cheese and yogurt
  • Mashed, cooked egg yolk (not whites, which can be allergenic)
  • Chopped table foods like meats, cooked vegetables, fruits and pasta as your baby shows readiness for coarse textures

Wait until your baby is 12 months old to add whole cow’s milk and egg whites. Always follow the advice of your pediatrician for adding new foods to your baby’s diet, especially if allergies run in your family.

Which baby food do you prefer — store-bought or homemade? We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Leading by Example

Tomorrow, my son, Jack, will be 11 months old! It is so hard for me to believe that only 11 months ago his sole source of nutrition came from a bottle and now he’s eating food off of my plate. We’ve just recently moved from feeding Jack only baby food to letting him have "real" table food, which to be honest, has complicated our mealtimes. Up until now, my husband and I didn’t have to think as much about what we were eating for dinner. But suddenly, I’m seeing every meal we eat in a whole new light.


In fact, just yesterday, we went grocery shopping. One of the staple items that we keep on hand is a bag of frozen chicken, whether it is breaded chicken breasts, chicken nuggets, or chicken patties. On busy days, it is so easy to make chicken and rice or chicken and mac and cheese. But yesterday as I was picking the bag of chicken patties off the shelf, I thought Do I really want to feed Jack frozen, processed chicken? I promptly put the bag back on the shelf.

Suddenly, I find myself wanting to make more healthy food choices … choices I should have been making all along, but now there is a new urgency. I want to set an example of healthy eating (and a healthy overall lifestyle) for Jack so that he will grow up to be healthy, happy, and strong.

The same can be said for every aspect of life. Am I making healthy choices about what I watch on TV? Am I choosing to spend my time wisely? Am I a good steward of our finances? Utlimately, the most important question is Am I leading by example? LIttle eyes are watching everything I do, even right now before he completely understands. Now is the time to start setting the example.

I must say … I have a lot of work to do. I know I won’t ever be perfect, but my prayer is that I can model a healthy Christian life for my son … a life that I would be proud for him to imitate!

Do you struggle with setting the example? What are your biggest struggles?