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What Are We Feeding Our Kids??

This past weekend was the daddy-daughter dance at my daughter’s school and I was on the set-up crew. My kids have often relayed the food choices they are given for lunch in school, butSchool-Lunch that day…I finally got a first-hand sneak peek as I was gathering the “home-made” contributions from the families into the cafeteria (the items that were brought in is a whole ‘notha entry).

I find it fascinating there is this strong push to get the general population to eat healthier – incorporating more “whole” and “responsibly sourced” foods, organic options and removing non-processed foods from our diet, YET, there is a major juxtaposition of this messaging in the schools. We are teaching kids the options they are given are “healthy”. No wonder as our children get older, it is more and more difficult to remove these toxins from their diet – they are programmed and conditioned mentally and physically to think what they are eating is responsible and reasonable. After all, it’s what’s provided in schools – so it’s good for them, right? It is time to educate children.

According to the CDC, “Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years.” I confirmed how this is happening when I took a little stroll through the cafeteria. Here is what I found among the packaged offerings:

Drinks:

Low-calorie G2 Gatorade

Ingredients: Water, Sugar, Citric Acid, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Salt, Sodium Citrate, Monopotassium Phosphate, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Colour

Our children have no need to ingest Gatorade, let alone a low calorie version with artificial flavors and sweeteners.

Chocolate Milk

Ingredients: Low-fat milk, high fructose corn syrup, cocoa (processed with alkali), cornstarch, salt, carrageenan, vanilla, vitamin A, palminate and Vitamin D3

The combination of sugar and calories does not lead to a healthy option.

Juice

Sugar, sugar and more sugar. 40 grams to be exact. In one serving. Not including the additional sugar-spiked selections they will choose as they make it through the food assembly line.

Snacks:

Doritos, Cheez-Its, Lays Potato Chips, Pirate Booty, Onion Rings, cookie packs…need I go on? Oh wait, they do also offer churros (fried dough pastry dipped in sugar).

And there’s a large freezer of ice cream to choose from – the kind you get out of the ice cream trucks on the streets. Ya know, Good Humor? Humorous it is. I think writing the ingredient label for one of those would take up the entire length of this blog entry, so I thought it best to refrain.

“Healthy” Morning Cereals:

Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Mini-Wheats, Fruit Loops.

Let’s look at just one ingredient list for Lucky Charms: Whole Grain Oats (that’s what they boast!), Oats, Marshmallows (sugar, modified corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, calcium carbonate, yellows 5&6, blue 1, red 40, artificial flavor), Sugar, Oat Flour, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Salt, Trisodium Phosphate, Color Added, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Vitamin E (added to “preserve” freshness).

Yum.

Hot Entrées

I did not get a chance to observe the “hot entrée” options on this month’s menu first hand, which the food service provider, Pomptonian, says their primary goal is to “offer a program that meets not only the likes of the students, but also provides sound nutrition.” Sound nutrition. Hummm.

I do happen to have a handy print-out of the menu. Here’s what the first two weeks of February look like as part of what they refer to as “American Heart ‘healthy’ Month”.

Week 1

Monday: Pizza Crunchers

Tuesday: “All-Beef” Hot Dog wrapped in a Blanket with Cheese

Wednesday: Cheesesteak on a Whole Wheat Hero

Thursday: Baked Ziti with Marinara Sauce & Garlic Bread

Friday: Coppola’s Cheese Pizza

Week 2

Monday: Popcorn Chicken with Dipping Sauces & Corn-on-the-Cob

Tuesday: Hamburger or Cheeseburger on a Whole Wheat Bun with Smiley Fries

Wednesday: French Toast Sticks with Syrup, Sausage

Thursday: Coppola’s Cheese Pizza

Friday: Thank goodness there is a break from this heart-attack ridden menu for winter break.

So what?

As per the CDC, “Overweight and obesity are the results of “caloric imbalance” – too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed.” If I ate this food on a daily basis, my cholesterol, BMI and intestines would look like a battle-ground and I would be sleeping every hour on the hour. Why is this ok for the schools to feed our children? Why isn’t anyone protesting?

Here’s my dilemma. Why should I care? I feed my children food from my home on a daily basis with my version of healthy food choices (it’s not perfect but I’d bet a million dollars my choices are better options). Once in a while, they will buy the grease-ridden pizza on Fridays, but every mom needs a break from packing lunches once in a while. Buying lunch for my children at school is generally not an option based on their selection. Is it worth mine or other mom’s fight if they are in the same boat? Or do we all think it’s just too big of a fight to fight?

I have stayed pretty low key about this topic for the most part – considering I am pretty opinionated about food choices. There was one incident where the PTA decided to sell sugar donuts as an afternoon snack as part of their fundraising efforts, which I brought to the attention of the VP. He was extremely receptive – however we both knew our conversation would not go any further than his office.

Here’s the problem: “children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults,” cites the CDC.

Ultimately, my goal is to help people be aware of food choices – for the good of our children’s future. Think of the chemicals they are ingesting on a daily basis. Think of the ramifications in the long run on health, medical costs, age expectancy and overall demeanor of our future leaders. How can we raise clear thinking leaders with kind and thoughtful treatment toward others if chemicals have taken over their brains and the way their bodies function?

At some point…the madness has to stop.

If anyone is interested, I offer a home service that offers guidance on food selections. If this is something you are interested in, please contact me directly: dakarrat@yahoo.com. If I can help one family at a time – sign me up.

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What The ?

There are common terms used in the fitness industry all the time. It occurred to me that fitness professionals often speak their own language and that readers of these fitness concepts might not even comprehend what they are talking about…so how do you make a change if you don’t know what you’re changing?

Confused Geeky Woman

Well, let’s tackle it.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic

Aerobic literally means “with oxygen”.  During aerobic exercise, adequate fuel (glucose, fats, etc.) + oxygen allow muscles to contract repeatedly without fatigue. You could perform aerobic exercise for a very long time. Great examples are walking, jogging, swimming or biking.

Anaerobic means “requiring no oxygen”.  During anaerobic exercise muscles rely on reactions that do not involve oxygen – typically involving lactic acid (glucose in the muscle) for energy.  You can only get energy in this way for a short amount of time. It typically occurs with short-spurt, high-energy activities where you can barely catch your breath and get fatigued. A great example is running sprints.

We basically use both conditions when we exercise. The proportion between the two changes depending on exercise intensity.

VO2 Max is the maximum amount of oxygen an individual can utilize during intense exercise. It is the best indicator of an athlete’s cardiovascular fitness and aerobic endurance.

Maximum Heart Rate is the theoretical maximum rate in which your heart can beat for your age. It is not recommended that you exercise at this rate! To calculate for a healthy individual, use the equation 220 – Your Age.

Once you have your maximum heart rate, you can calculate a target heart rate range (many gyms and trainers offer this as a reference for the level of your exertion). For example, if you are targeting to work at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate and your maximum heart rate is 180, 70% would be 126 beats per minute.

Metabolism refers to the chemical reaction of a cell or living tissue that transfers usable materials into energy (ie. fat into energy). “Raise your metabolism” refers to the rate you are able to use this energy.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is one of several methods to assess body composition (fat vs. muscle). It is calculated by dividing your weight by your height in inches. The controversy over using BMI as a “healthy” indicator is that muscle weighs more than fat and the ratio can fluctuate person to person. To get a true indication of your body composition, you should conduct a body fat analysis that is measured with calipers or other more sophisticated means.

Dynamic vs. Static stretching

Dynamic stretching is the recommended form of warming up your body before exercising. It includes slow, constant movement that mimics the workout you are about to do – not held stretches!

Static stretching is highly recommended at the completion of exercise. It is a method of stretching large muscle groups (quads, hamstrings, back) by holding each stretch for at least 6 seconds. This helps to relax and elongate your muscles.

Interval Training is a type of exercise program that combines high-intensity and low-intensity timed intervals in a single workout to maximize burning fat.

Plyometrics is a form of training that uses quick movements to increase muscular power (jumping up onto a box or high bench) and usually involves an explosive movement.

Soluble Fiber vs. Insoluble Fiber

Dietary fiber is found naturally in the plant foods that we eat. It’s a carbohydrate the body cannot digest so it passes directly through the digestive tract.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel to help slow down digestion. It delays the emptying of your stomach and makes you feel fuller, longer. It also slows down the absorption of fats and sugars. Some examples of soluble fiber include oatmeal, lentils, flaxseed, beans, etc.

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, but rather absorbs water. It has a laxative effect and adds bulk to your diet, helping prevent constipation. Since insoluble fiber does not dissolve, it passes through your body in-tact. Sources include grains and vegetables such as whole wheat, bran, seeds, nuts, brown rice, cabbage, etc.

Type I Diabetes vs. Type II Diabetes

There is a lot of discussion in the fitness industry about how eating a healthy diet can prevent diseases such as diabetes. There are two types of diabetes, and only one can typically be improved by diet and fitness.

Type I diabetes is when you have a total lack of insulin to help process glucose (energy) in your body. In this case, the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin, eventually eliminating insulin production from the body. It is typically genetic, cannot be prevented and requires insulin injections.

Type II diabetes is when you have too little insulin or cannot use insulin effectively. It can develop at any age and is often a result of an unhealthy lifestyle or diet. In many cases, it can be prevented and cured by maintaining a healthy weight, eating sensibly and exercising regularly.

If there are other fitness terms you would like us to cover, please email us at info@heelstolaces.com.

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