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A certain commercial makes the claim that the advertised yogurt product is ‘…specially formulated to thaw by lunch time.’ I made a mental note figuring that this would be a nice surprise to a blah brown-bag lunch. Healthy kids: check. Then my seven-year old said, “That can’t be good for you.” Targeted audience survey says – FAIL!

Then it hit me – I’m the dummy they are talking to! Taking advantage of health conscious moms who are trying to keep our kids nutritionally balanced in the sneakiest way possible and these are the choices we are given? Chemically designed food-like product. Really?

I think we have fallen to filling our children over feeding them – satisfying them rather than considering their overall health and nutrition, and the food pushers know this. Somehow, we have come to believe it’s ok. Full kids = happy (quiet) kids. For instance, I know a woman who swears by a vegetarian diet for her children. Because I’ve never seen them eat anything other than rice and bags of granola I asked, ‘Why?’ Turns out, “They don’t like vegetables.” Blink. Blink. I just thought the V-E-G-E in vegetarian meant vegetables.

NYC Says No Soda For Food Stamp Recipients

Now, I’m not perfect either. I’ll occasionally drop by Mickey Ds for an afterschool or between-practice snack, just to hold them over until dinner and if the hubs is going to be late and miss dinner, I’ll upsize them to a meal and scratch the whole dinner thing off my plate. Voila, satisfaction all around.

But, what are little girls and boys are made of now days? In short, they are full of …! Well, largely chemicals, fat, sugar and SODIUM. The worst! Sodium, schmodium you say? Excessive sodium intake is the leading cause of hypertension. 75% of Americans suffer elevated blood pressure, hardening of the arteries and reduced oxygen to the heart, kidney and brain. Yet, children are rarely tested for hypertension.

The Institute of Medicine sets the Adequate Intake for sodium at:

• 1000 mg a day for children ages 2 to 3

• 1200 mg for 4 to 8

• 1500 mg per day for boys and girls ages 9 to 18.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans sets the upper limit at:

• <1500 mg for children 1 to 3

• 1900 mg for ages 4 to 8

• 2200 mg for ages 9 to 13

• 2300 mg per day for ages 14 – 18

Let’s suppose I’m going to ‘take it easy’ on a particular day. Pop in some biscuits, throw some stuff in a bag for lunch and hit a drive-thru on the way home.

(1) Pillsbury Grands Homestyle Biscuit contains 600 mg of sodium

(1) Oscar Mayer Lunchables Deluxe Ham, Swiss, Cheddar contains 930 mg

America’s favorite value meal?

• Hamburger/small fries/chocolate milk – 830 mg

• Chicken Nuggets/small fries/chocolate milk – 710 mg

By the end of the day, they would have consumed 2360 mg of sodium, well over the upper limit of a child twice their age, and that’s the mom-sanctioned stuff(ing). Considering the bags of chips, cans of soda and candy they consume on the sneak – I’m ready to call protective services myself!

Now, I’m not bashing the McMeal-in-a-crunch, but saving myself 15 to 30 minutes here and there doesn’t add up to much when considering the future health issues I could be imposing on my children.

Oh, by the way, the McRib is back. NOW I’m bashing.

Look into some of the links below, or do your own food policing and comment to share what you find.

Sodium facts

Juvenile hypertension

Packaged foods

Build a Happier Meal*

*This calculator is only available on their Canada site which has higher limits for sodium but relevant nonetheless

Here are some quick picks to beat brown bag blah:

• Make sandwiches wraptastic! Roll flatbread around any combo of veggies, meats and spreads.

• Add spinach to the basic sandwich. Drier than lettuce and more nutritious.

• Spread pesto rather than mayo for a tastier bite.

• Flatbread triangles and hummus drizzled with olive oil.

• Freeze your own standard, mixed, organic yogurt. If it thaws fine, if not, even better!

• Refresh them with water, nix the juice boxes. Red is a color, not a fruit.

• Edamame, snap peas, and baby carrots are sweet enough to be un-veggie-like.

• Who doesn’t like fresh popcorn?

• California Rolls are prepared in deli sections of most grocers now. Skip the soy sauce.

• Boiled-egg heads. Draw on faces with food coloring.

• A good thermos will keep foods warm for hours. Lunch can be everything from soup to last night’s spaghetti.

• Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Juice from the apples makes for a light caramel-like sauce.

• ALWAYS put a little note in their lunch to take the sting off of a rough test, kiss a scratched knee or hug the bully-weary.

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