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Junk Food


Where Do You Rank?

Most of your know about my previous crusades to tackle the disappointing lunch choices that our children are offered in school. And, that the average American diet has been a point of contention …known to be full of processed foods, artificial ingredients and a lack of nutritional fruits and veggies.

A recent article in the NY Times this month provided some very interesting facts. “The top four sources of calories in the average American child’s diet are grain-based desserts, pizza, soda and sports drinks, and bread.” One-third…yes, 1 out of every 3 children, eat fast food every single day and more than 90% do not eat enough veggies.  And, one of the driving forces of this trend relates back to the $2 billion a year spent on advertising unhealthy food and beverages directly to children. Of course they want the Happy Meal that gives them a “free” Star Wars figure!

The article included a chart from Business Insider of “25 foods that make up most of the calories Americans eat”. Number one? Desserts – cakes, cookies, pies, donuts…”. The chart can be found below:

food chart

I struggle every day with what to do with this information. Why is it that there are not more regulations being put on food packaging? Why are we not educating the parents more?

Are some efforts happening? Yes. But ever notice how slow it is taking? Big food giants are not going to let that happen so easily. “It’s all about the money, money, money.”

The US Gov’t just released their new dietary guidelines…which happens every 5 years. It does support some key common denominators: Less sugar, more healthy fat, more non-processed protein, more fruits & veggies, lower sodium and a healthy balance. Gold star to big gov’t on the effort…but how does this get communicated more effectively to our children?

I believe our children do need to be educated and the schools are the place to start. I also believe a lot of it stems from the parents. I find many parents are trying to make smart choices – they exercise, try to eat fairly clean and avoid desserts and processed foods. However, much of this does not translate to their own children.  It is so important for parents  to practice what they preach for themselves and their children. If they would never eat chicken nuggets, neither should their children.

I want to do my small part. I am running another 6 week fitness and nutrition program for children ages 9-12 from Feb 19th – March 25th in Summit on Fridays from 4:15-5:15. If you are interested, please visit my Facebook page or email me directly: dakarrat@yahoo.com.

Youth fitness class flyer 1-16-16 FINAL1


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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:


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.


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.


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).


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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say-no-to-soda-bestBelow is a persuasive essay, written by my 11 year old daughter, as an assignment in Language Arts. I thought it worthy of sharing.

Written by Sofia Karrat, 11 years old.

Article writer Kanika Khara said, “Since soda does no benefit to our body other than satiating our taste buds, and in fact causes considerable harm, it is better that we should make healthy choices about our diet.” Only some people agree with that statement saying soda is bad. However, most people think differently. Most people just drink soda and don’t care what’s going into their bodies. In my opinion, I believe soda is not good to drink. I believe we should stop drinking it, too.

First of all, soda can cause deadly diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Sugar is one of the main ingredients in soda. That is why we get these sicknesses, because sugar is one of the main reasons causing it. Once sugar is digested, it is turned into fat by the body. If you drink only one coke a day for a year, your body has stored 17 pounds of fat! Just in soda! There are recommended daily sugar amounts for men, women, and children. For men it’s 9 teaspoons (36 grams), for women it’s 5 teaspoons (20 grams), and for children it’s 3 teaspoons (12 grams). A can of soda has about 39 grams in sugar, so all people have already had more than their sugar amount for the day! Another ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. It also causes those diseases. High fructose corn syrup is sweeter than normal corn syrup. It is made with artificial sweeteners, and it makes the body store more fat. Soda also has other many bad ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners, caramel color, ester gum, Red 40, Yellow 5, and more. These ingredients hurt the body. This drink also dehydrates the body. Dehydration is when your body doesn’t have enough water and fluids as it should. When severe, dehydration can be a life-threatening emergency (but that’s very rare).

Secondly, nobody reads the nutrition labels and ingredients, and it’s one of the problems why America is getting sick. The nutrition label and ingredients are things most people don’t pay attention to. These are where health comes in. Things like sugar, and high fructose corn syrup are in the ingredients. The amounts of helpful and harmful contents are in the nutrition facts. It tells you the amount of everything in grams or milligrams. There are no vitamins, proteins, or fiber in soda. But, there is lots of caffeine. At first, caffeine supplies an instant boost of energy. But, that energy slowly wears off, and you may start experiencing headaches, sleepiness, and fatigue. Another thing that is noticed is the front of the can is “All Natural”. “All Natural” actually doesn’t mean anything. Companies put it on the can to look good. People think it means “All Good” and the ingredients are fresh.

My final reason for why to not drink soda is that one of the reasons people are drinking soda is because of celebrities advertising them. My mom is a health nut. There was a movie that came out, Fed Up, that my mom found out about right away. At first, I didn’t want to watch it. But, when I found out about why Americans are getting deadly sicknesses and diseases, I was glad I watched it. Sugar is why America is getting problems in health, such as diabetes, and it’s not ok for celebrities to make people want it more in soda. Celebrities such as Beyonce shouldn’t allow soda companies to put her on the can. Then kids get influenced by the ads, want to be like a celebrity, and drink soda. But people think,”Well, what’s the big deal? Everyone drinks it anyway.” It’s not a small problem, because some people don’t already drink soda so they start and get addicted to it. Also, people will just start increasing the amount they drink if celebrities advertise soda. I drink seltzer (which is just plain sparkling water), and it is a really good alternative if you drink soda.

My belief is that America should stop drinking so much soda. Soda can cause deadly diseases, nobody reads the labels, and celebrities are advertising it just to make people want it more. I don’t want to risk hurting my body for something that tastes good.

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