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There’s Lots of Bad Information Out There

This image shows a note sent home from a daycare program to explain that the child’s home-made lunch was insufficient, and reminding the parent that there is a charge whenever the school supplements an insufficient home lunch. There’s just a couple of problems: the lunch was sufficient, and the school-provided “supplement” was junk calories — mainly fat and simple carbs, whereas the home-made lunch contained dense protein and fiber-rich foods).

Dr Yoni Freedhoff followed up with the mom who received this, and she commented that this policy was scrapped soon afterward. The stated reason for the change was that they chose to offer a hot lunch program (described by the mom as “great”), because parents were packing such poor lunches. That’s probably true, but it highlights the problems with the note: staff without specialized education interpreting needlessly rigid (and often industry-driven) food guidelines and supplementing with cheap, non-nutritious foods. It’s a pleasant surprise to hear they got hot lunches right, but that program was probably designed by people with more expertise than the childcare workers that were filling out those forms.

What’s the Take-Home Message?

Simple rules (“eat x servings of grains”) are often not enough information. There’s nothing wrong with grains in general: whole grains contain protein and fiber, which are essential nutrients for growth and tissue repair and for gut health, as well as carbohydrate for energy. And so do lots of other foods, like meat, potatoes, carrots, and oranges. Ritz crackers, on the other hand, have only trace fiber and a touch of protein … and provide almost 50% of their calories from fat. Yummy! Healthful? Well, there are many much better choices.

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