Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The Great Chocolate Milk Compromise
Here are my biggest issues with the school lunches:
1) A few too many convenience foods – frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, corn dogs, etc.
2) Too few fresh fruit and veggie options.
3) The fact that I have no idea of the ingredients, calorie and nutrient content of those foods.
Therefore, I am taking more control of my child’s diet by sending my food choices to school with her. They are usually full of fresh fruits and veggies, varying proteins, a light serving of grains, and water to drink. To date, she has been very happy with what I have been sending, and she has created her own menu list so she can request the different combinations. (Look for these lunches on this blog and on my Facebook page.)
HOWEVER, I am not a stalwart food mom all of the time, and I am open to compromise. So I told her she could pick one day a week to eat the school’s lunch. Since the school system has changed to a consistent weekly menu throughout the semester, she has decided that Thursday is her day. She will be eating chicken nuggets, a whole-grain roll, applesauce and (pain) chocolate milk. They do offer mashed potatoes and asparagus (canned), but she is not a fan of either. I can’t say that I blame her on the asparagus. Since she eats green veggies such as spinach, broccoli and fresh asparagus on a regular basis, I feel she can go without a veggie this one meal. We’ll make up for it at dinner.
After I started writing this blog, originally titled “Improving the School Lunch,” I decided to think about chocolate milk a little more. The average calorie content of an 8 oz. chocolate milk carton served at school is about 160. The average 12 oz. non-diet soda has about 155 calories. If those are my choices, I’ll gladly suggest the chocolate milk, for it actually has some good nutritional qualities: protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, energy-inducing fat and carbs, and a number of other vitamins and minerals. The difference in calories between the chocolate milk and the plain milk we drink at home is about one Dove dark chocolate, which I would have let her eat after dinner anyway.
Jamie Oliver makes a very compelling argument against chocolate milk – filling the school bus with the sugar a child consumes in a school year if drinking only flavored milk – but I fear many kids are getting much more sugar from candy, cookies, toaster breakfast foods, cereals, and sodas. While chocolate milk may not be the best choice, there are much worse things for our kids to consume in my mind, and I am glad I decided to take a more critical look. (Have you thought about how much sugar your child consumes in an average week and the foods that sugar comes from?) Thinking about parents who may not be able to send lunch to school with their kids, I am fine with schools continuing to serve flavored milk as it may be one of the more nutritious things they have all day. But could they maybe work with the stevia folks to reduce the sugar? Just a suggestion.
Miss E won’t be drinking chocolate milk every school day, but I won’t feel guilty about our compromise for 36 days out of the year. I think this agreement has actually made her more excited about making her own good food choices.
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