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Liquid Candy

Posted on 06/21/2011

It may be the first official day of summer, but I'm already thinking about fall and the start of the school year.

Did you hear? Flavored milk is being dumped by the second largest school system in the country. That's right, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) recently voted flavored milk out of its schools, and joins hundreds of other schools across the country who are no longer choosing to offer it to students.

This is a huge step in the right direction for our kids and the fight against obesity. It is more than milk...it is really about caring about what we're offering our kids while in the school's care. All it takes is one school for others to follow suit, take action and begin to care.

I see change happening. I hope the momentum continues and more schools decide to dump "liquid candy," A.K.A., flavored milk (chocolate, strawberry and vanilla). Especially after they see the L.A. school system do it!

Small schools, medium schools and large schools can take a stand against flavored, colored, sugary milk. They can and do make a difference in the lives and health of their students. Why do kids need two gallons worth of added sugar in a school year plus unnecessary additives, food dyes and preservatives? Because that's what they ingest by being offered flavored milk at school!

By taking this step, schools are making a conscious decision to offer healthier options to students. It is often a first step.  Next, they can examine the types of meals they offer and begin to improve upon them to help improve the health of kids. Here are a few more ideas for schools to improve their menus:

  • Add fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned varieties that are drowning in sugar, artificial additives and salt is a way to make positive changes. Eventually eliminate the canned varieties all together.
  • Reduce fried food and eventually eliminate it. Baked alternatives are a healthier option.
  • Serve whole grains instead of enriched, white bread, rolls and buns. Same goes for rice, pasta, cereals, wraps, pitas and etc.
  • Let go of the vending machines and soda machines revenue stream. The profits are truly hurting more than they are helping our children.
  • Serve new items with fun names. Kids gravitate towards catchy names and love anything they can "dip."
  • If you have fast-food restaurants in your schools, look for healthier alternatives, such as delis or local companies who offer healthier fare. Or, consider in their space, rotate healthy, ethnic fare on specific days...Mondays are Italian food days, Tuesdays are Mexican food days and etc.
  • Reduce items containing artificial food dyes, artificial sweeteners and harmful additives and preservatives (i.e., high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils or trans fats, MSG and the like). Eventually eliminate those items as well.

My advice to schools and parents out there...start small and think big. Small changes will make a big impact in the long run.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead

Remember, if you offer only healthy options -- at home and at school -- children will choose them. They will become normal for them and prefer healthier food in the long run. It's about creating healthy eating habits for a lifetime of good health.

post-author

Seattle Sutton, BSN, RN

She made healthy eating her mission in life long before anyone else did, in hopes of helping her own obese father. A registered nurse by training and entrepreneur at heart, she lives, eats and breathes everything about healthy eating and helping to improve people’s eating habits and overall health. She enjoys never having to bother with grocery shopping, cooking and counting calories. Her favorite SSHE meal, although it’s hard to pick just one, is the Potato Gnocchi with Basil Pesto Sauce.

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