Is my kids school screwing up my child's pancreas?
The science is real, there are more type 2 diabetic kids today than ever before. When I found out my daughter had jam and bread with juice and bananas at school and came home with a tummy ache I was appalled. How could a school be feeding my kids sugar, sugar and more sugar when we know what we know today about childhood diabetes? Even more so on what we know about how sugar affects behavior and attention? When I emailed the school principal about this, they were more than happy that I was interested in this subject and I was asked to go into my daughters school to evaluate their diet program and help them with nutrition.
To my dismay I saw breakfasts of carbs with milk, lunch of carbs with a side of carbs and a topping of carbs, and a snack of carbs with more milk. Interestingly enough the milk was 1% and not whole. And even more surprising was that the decision makers felt that high carb meals kept the kids full. There are countless sources of data that support this is not the case and that in fact the high carb dose will spike your insulin and make you even more ravenously hungry quicker. In reality protein and fat are the way to keep satiated. Being a mom that is also a physician and nutritionist leaves you with a big weight on your shoulders.
You really do bear the burden of having to guide people in the right direction knowing what you do about health outcomes and the repercussions of early behavior and relationships with food. However when it came to my baby girl who already was extremely energetic and needed some help in “settling down”, I didn’t want her poor little naive pancreas to have to suffer such a heavy carb load on a daily basis. And so my quest began, to try to help her school organize their menus and dive deeper into their food troubles. To my surprise this issue had been raised many times in the past with great failures to change. The cook had her own ideas of what was healthy and palatable and wanted to make sure the kids were in fact eating all the food they were given. Also moms in the past had suggested recipes or even made food to bring in but that too had failed. It came down to basic principles of behavioral change and the fear to make a decision that would not be well received. Change management — was this in fact at the core of poor nutrition decisions in my daughters school? Was there no one willing to walk the cook through how to prepare her food differently, give her a list of ideal ingredients and perhaps even go so far as to recommend specific products that met the criteria?
I sat with their directors and walked them through the basics of nutrition — 101. What is a carb? What is sugar? Whats the difference between the two? Is honey good? What about Agave? I showed them the data on fat. I expressed my opinion on organic vs grass fed and supported it with evidence. They were amazed when they heard that eating egg yolks wasn’t the reason for heart disease. They leaders believed everything I was saying but they just didn’t feel powerful enough to make the final call. What I realized in the moment of insight was that in order for change to happen, for my kids school to adopt a new way, it would take me putting in the effort, it would take me going the extra mile, and it would take parents coming together and changing the way we shop, the way we feed our kids and in reality the way we eat ourselves.