When I’m not fixing healthy snacks for my kids, I’m a freelance writer specializing in fitness, health, nutrition, parenting and child development topics. My work has appeared in magazines including Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Natural Health, Vegetarian Times, American Baby, New Parent, Tennis, Parenting, and Glamour. I’m also co-author of Shacking Up: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Living In Sin Without Getting Burned (Broadway Books) and ghostwriter of four books by two internationally known fitness personalities.
I’ve long been passionate about nutrition and the fight against childhood obesity. As a young girl, I was overweight, and I still remember the horror of being called an elephant by a second-grade classmate. No kid should ever have to feel like that! But my interest in school food has to do with much more than waistlines. It’s about helping kids stay healthy, feel great and develop good eating habits for a lifetime.
Before you call me a Food Nazi: I’m really not an extremist. My children regularly eat dessert and are well acquainted with Oreos. I wouldn’t dream of a life without sweets. But do I think they belong in the classroom? Once in a while, maybe. But not on a regular basis. (Who needs ‘em, anyway, when you can have these yummy healthy snacks?). As a rule, I vote for saving them for home, a friend’s house or a special occasion outside of school.
For me, this issue is personal: I want my own children to be well nourished throughout the day. I’d like the food lessons that I’m teaching at home to be reinforced at school. I dream of them telling me about eating spinach and carrots, not ice cream and candy. I’m also deeply concerned for all the kids who aren’t being fed well at home. School may provide their only exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables. It may offer their best chance of learning that fresh, colorful, wholesome food is the best thing for their bodies–and what do you know, it tastes good!
After years of writing diet and weight loss stories for women’s magazines like Shape, I know how hard it can be for people to eat right and shed excess pounds. Every day, I see countless adults struggling with their eating or weight. Some complain that they can’t stop eating chips or sweets; others are chronic dieters or have suffered eating disorders; many wish that they weighed less or could drop a size or two. None want to think about the health problems that may ultimately result from poor food choices. That’s precisely why we need to teach our kids how to eat and make healthy food the norm in school. If even one child is saved from a lifetime battle with food, our efforts will have paid off.