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Color Me Yummy!

March is National Nutrition Month®. The campaign is part of the American Dietetic Association’s effort to educate and focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices, developing healthy eating and physical activity habits.  It was started back in the 70s as a week and has exploded to a month.

This year’s theme is “Eat Right with Color.” Meaning RDs are focusing on the benefits of pigment-related phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables that supply them.

Ok enough background. If you want more click here.

I LOVE, with a capital L, eating color. If I don’t have enough color in my salad it just looks sad. Being a pescatarian I don’t get a lot of variety when it comes to my protein colors. Sure, my salmon is pink, but so are my tuna and shrimp.

So I turn to my heaping pile of fruits and veggies. There are times when I crave a fruit salad simply because you can have so much variety that is good for you. I am always the first person to jump into the crudités plate at a party. (See below for the RIGHT portion.)

The point is, when I go to the Union Square farmer’s market and see all the gorgeous radishes, rainbow carrots, apples and pears I get excited. I can’t wait for spring to return so that my colors come back.

Radishes from the farmer's market

Portion sizes

Fruits:  The food pyramid suggests two to four servings of fruit per day. An example of a serving size of fruit would be:

  • One medium apple, orange or banana
  • 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked or canned fruit
  • 3/4 cup of fruit juice

Vegetables: The food pyramid suggests three to five servings of vegetables per day. An example of a serving size of vegetables would be:

  • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or raw
  • 3/4 cup of vegetable juice

 

New Rules Call for Healthier Lunches

The school lunch overhaul proposed today by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is a giant leap in the right direction for tackling obesity in America.

The proposed rules would gradually reduce sodium, limit starchy vegetables, ban most trans fats, require fat-free or lowfat milk, increase whole grains, add more fruits and vegetables, and, for the first time, limit the number of calories children consume daily.

In a national telephone news briefing, Vilsack says children get about a third of their calories in school and that the number needs to be reduced to head off “serious consequences” relating to their health and also national security.

The new guidelines apply to breakfasts and lunches served at the school, but not what’s sold in the vending machines. (Apparently this will be addressed later)

This is the first time in 15 years that real changes will be made to school lunches. Today’s proposal comes a few weeks after President Barack Obama signed the child-nutrition bill into law. Vilsack says that law will provide up to $380 million annually in federal funds to help schools meet the new nutritional guidelines. He adds that the standards are a proposal, and it will likely be several years before schools have to make changes.

TOTS!!!

Last night on Glee, Sue Sylvester rose to the ultimate power—principal. When her initial plan to seize power failed (firing Beiste) she looked outside her office and saw massively obese children and decided to ban tater-tots from the school and advocate healthy eating.

When I showed this to Brittany she began to whimper, thinking I'd cut down a small tree where a family of gummi bears lived." - Sue, holding up some broccoli

I truly believe that Ms. Sylvester is one of the BEST characters on Glee, but I love her even more now that she took on school lunches.

It is nothing new lunches at many schools across the country are not nutritious. While more than 70% of schools serve lunches that meet the guidelines for nutrients like vitamins, minerals and proteins, many serve meals that are high in fat, salt and sugar.

Even healthy choices like whole wheat pizza, salad and bean burritos are accompanied by items like chicken nuggets and fries that kids can buy on their own. A study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2006 found that 23.5 percent of high schools offered fast food from places like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell.

If only real life principals could use their power this way….

Food Fight

At least 1/3 of kids’ diets come from cafeteria lunches, ones that can cause obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure later in life.

A new study from the University of Michigan Health System found that middle-school kids who regularly eat school-provided lunches, compared with those who bring lunch from home, are more likely to be overweight, develop poor eating habits, and have high levels of “bad” cholesterol.

What is on the menu for change?

The Child Nutrition Program – the major legislation that determines U.S. school food policy – is up for reauthorization this year.

The Senate may also vote on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which seeks to upgrade the current nutrition requirements of the National School Lunch program.

But don’t wait for them.

School lunches are ultimately up to the school district. So write to your principal, PTA or superintendent. Tell them what the kids in your area need in their lunches.