It has never been easy to get kids to eat healthy foods. Yes, we try to provide healthy choices at mealtimes and at home. But as soon as they are outside, kids are confronted with too many choices. It is limitless, they can have chips, sugar candy, gummy bears, sweet rolls, chocolate.
There is no limit to the number of items that are placed in front of them every day. To make matters worse they are bombarded with advertising for all of these sticky, sugary sweets everywhere they go.
If it is Good for you, it tastes bad
That was the mainstay of any healthy product since the 60s. I was brought up that way, as I am sure many of you were. It was the way things were done and everybody knew it. If it tastes bad it is good for you. This was a mainstay of healthy food when I was growing up and not a lot has changed today.
So, to make products better sugar was added. Even the mighty Kellogg brothers bowed to the pressure and added sugar to cornflakes and created sugar-frosted flakes. This was done to combat Post cereals who were creating their own sugary cereals that were outselling Kellogg.
The USDA Food Guidelines
The USDA first published food nutrition guidelines in 1894 as a farmer’s bulletin, by Dr. William Olin Atwater.
USDA Nutrition Guides
For a good article on the Food Pyramid flip over to Wikipedia here:
Back when Kellogg and Post were just getting started the Farmers Bulletin by Atwater was all there was for a food guide.
It was not until 1943 that the US government came up with the following chart from the US Department of Agriculture. It was pretty basic but not bad for a first go-round.
The food chart from 1943 is basic, but even-handed across all food types.
From 1956 to 1962 the USDA recommended the Basic 4 foods.
- fruit and vegetable
- bread and cereal
Other foods were said to round out meals and satisfy appetites. They could include anything from the Basic 4 along with butter, margarine, salad dressing and cooking oil, sauces, jellies, and syrups. (source Wikipedia)
During the 70s the food pyramid handed out was heavily weighted towards carbohydrates. Protein and fats were frowned upon. Sugar became a part of everything and it was hidden in glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose along with variations of these.
Because of this we got used to food tasting good (sweet) and in order to make healthy food everything had to be stripped out of it and we associated “healthy food” with bad taste – similar to medicines.
There was an explosion of obesity starting in the 70s and growing through to the 90s when the Food Pyramid was updated, but not improved in my opinion.
In the 1990s the FDA came out with a new food pyramid, which looked like this.
As you can see, they were encouraging people to eat even more carbohydrates. They were still saying fats oils and sweets were not good for you, but they had finally divided Meats and Dairy and Fruits and Vegetables into separate categories. But to put sugar in the same category as fats and oils was a mistake that would fuel the obesity explosion.
Since the late 2000s and certainly into 2010 to 2020 our perception of what is good for you has been changing. Carbohydrates are losing favor and fats and Oils are gaining popularity. Things like the Atkins, Paleo, and Keto diets have helped to popularize protein and fats in our diets.
The next food pyramid (2005) had changed and looked like this:
There is still a weighting towards carbohydrates, but it is less than it was in the 90s. But there is definitely a trend towards more protein, more fruit and vegetables. and less carbohydrates than there was through the 70s, 80s and 90s.
In 2011 the USDA changed again to My Plate.
My Plate is meant to simplify things for the busy household. Just look at the plate and ask yourself “Are the main groups represented?” – then ok.
This is the current guideline published by the USDA. Vegetables are now the largest segment, followed by grains. Fruits and Protein share a similar size on the plate with Dairy just off to the side.
This guide replaces the food pyramid guidelines and is displayed on food packaging and is used in nutritional education in the US.
MyPlate is supplemented with additional recommendations, such as “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables”, “Switch to 1% or skim milk”, “Make at least half your grains whole“, and “Vary your protein food choices.” The guidelines also recommend portion control while still enjoying food, as well as reductions in sodium and sugar intakes.
In unveiling MyPlate, First Lady Michelle Obama said, “Parents don’t have the time to measure out exactly three ounces of chicken or to look up how much rice or broccoli is in a serving. … But we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates. … And as long as they’re eating proper portions, as long as half of their meal is fruits and vegetables alongside their lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy, then we’re good. It’s as simple as that.”
That is not to say that carbohydrates are bad for you, but like all things, you must choose what you eat and make sure you eat good quality carbohydrates, and stay away from refined carbohydrates.
For a good guide on eating carbohydrates, check out this article from healthline.com – here:
Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in the 2010s we have been told that all carbs are bad for you and avoid carbs at all costs. The favorite buzzword phrase at present is “Is it Keto friendly?”
People need to take a more balanced approach to eating and recognize that carbohydrates play an important role in their diets.
There is a good article here that debunks 4 common myths about eating carbohydrates here:
A Squashed Banana
Getting fresh fruit into our children’s diet is relatively easy at home.
Just make sure to have plenty of fruit on hand for them to eat and encourage them to choose fruit.
But when they go out into the world to school, an activity, or just to play, making fruit an easy choice is more difficult. Everyone has found a bruised apple or a squashed banana in the bottom of a child’s knapsack. It just happens. It is not something they want to eat, nor is it something you want to clean up. Fresh, ready to eat fruit just doesn’t travel that well.
Yes, you can seal them up in a Tupperware container, but Tupperware is expensive and they can get lost. Also, most fresh fruit does not last long once prepared to eat even inside Tupperware, unless it is refrigerated.
An Easier Alternative
Fit Fits are perfect for kids, they are low in calories and full of vitamins and minerals – just like eating fresh fruit.
The reason for that is that they are only made up of fruit and nuts. With the exception of sulfur dioxide in The Apricot Fit Fit there are no additives. Sulpher Dioxide is used worldwide to help preserve dried fruits.
Individually packaged they are perfect for the lunchbox or the knapsack. There is no fuss, no muss. They can be squashed and still delicious to eat.
Fit Fits come in 3 flavours. Date hazelnut and cacao, Fig and Walnut and Apricot, almond and Bitter chocolate.
They are gluten-free, kosher (except for the chocolate in the Apricot), and vegan.
Fit Fits are delicious. They taste great, in most cases better than anyone expected. Kids love them and are happy to have them in their lunch boxes.
There is no doubt that we want our children to eat more fruit and nuts in their diet. These carbohydrates are complex and good for them. Fresh fruit and nuts are definitely the best choices to provide for them. Fruit and nuts are full of complex carbohydrates and vitamins and minerals. Everything we want our kids to have to grow healthy and strong.
We are not suggesting that dried fruits should replace fresh fruit. But we do suggest that dried fruit with nuts is a practical alternative when fresh fruits are not easy to obtain or take with you.
The Food guide is constantly changing and was due for an update in 2020, it may be delayed due to the current situation. But our perception of what is healthy for ourselves and our children should always be changing and growing based on the best information we have.