“Hotdogs, cheeseburgers, pizza sticks, cheese burritos, chicken fingers, fish sticks…”


Is there a subject more complex or convoluted? Politics, religion, the differences between the sexes…those subject’s got nothin’ on food.

We need food to survive. Of course. But it’s not like we can take a pill of food in the morning like a birth-control pill and hope it works. Food demands our attention. And it has some people’s attention more than others (people such as me, a confessed foodie).

We love some food and we hate some food, but there’s never a consensus. We defend the foods we love like they were some kind of holy grail. I’ve listened to people argue over barbecue sauce recipes, for cryin’ out loud! That’s not love. That’s obsession.

There are times we cook food and times we grab food. At our most determined, we plan and implement a diet plan, and when that determination wanes, we drive through McDonald’s. We seek the magical comfort of mashed potatoes while standing firm in the face of cheesecake. We are conflicted.

When it comes to food, we all have choices. All of us, that is, except for the little ones. Those folks who are too young for debit cards, too young to voice their opinion (except to put their hands in front of their mouths in protest), and who rely on us…adults…to make the best food choices we can for them.

Meet Jessica. Jess is a 27-year-old mother to 11-month-old Sarah. Sarah attends a Class A daycare in Louisiana while Jess and her husband, Mark, work. Until now, Jess has provided the daycare facility with all of Sarah’s foods: breast milk and baby food.
Now that Sarah is ready for “table” food, the daycare insists she eat what they provide. In fact, the government requires that Sarah’s lunch be delivered via the daycare. No home food is allowed without a doctor’s note. The problem is that Jessica isn’t real happy with the daycare’s food choices. It’s not that Jess is a picky, hard-to-please helicopter parent. Not at all. Jess is simply a food-conscious woman who wants her child to have every advantage of healthy, wholesome foods.

And to Jess, hotdogs, cheeseburgers, pizza sticks, cheese burritos, chicken fingers and fish sticks are not healthy, wholesome foods.

You know I agree.

Anyone who has lost weight and is maintaining their weight probably didn’t get to weight loss and maintenance by eating a lot of hotdogs, cheeseburgers, pizza sticks, cheese burritos, chicken fingers, or fish sticks. But I’d be willing to bet they got there (raising my hand!) by eating hotdogs, cheeseburgers, pizza sticks, cheese burritos, chicken fingers, and fish sticks. Frequently.

Our Standard American Diet of fat and simple carbs is flat out wrong. We know this. And yet, it is perpetuated in our schools while we sit around scratching our heads wondering why we have an obesity epidemic!

Shame. On. Us.

Shame on school districts. And more appropriately (despite Michelle Obama’s efforts), shame on our government for sanctioning this disease-by-food policy.

I invite you to read Jessica’s blog, “The Healthy Conundrum.” Parents, foodies, weight losers, weight maintainers… please post your comments there as well as here. I look forward to the conversation.

12 thoughts on ““Hotdogs, cheeseburgers, pizza sticks, cheese burritos, chicken fingers, fish sticks…”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Lynn. Thinking about this has kept me up for many nights trying to figure out the best course of action for feeding my little girl. Any input for getting things moving the right direction would be wonderful. I'm hoping I can motivate some other parents to get behind me on this!

  2. I absolutely do not understand this. Why is this accepted? I wrote a post last month (http://journeytobehealthy.blogspot.com/2012/02/standard-american-diet.html) about seeing a day care owner purchasing groceries at Wal-Mart.

    I'm hoping that conscientious parents along with Michelle Obama's fight against childhood obesity will raise awareness, and will begin to make important changes. Hotdogs, cheeseburgers, pizza sticks etc. should be the exception, not the norm.

  3. And the problem doesn't get any better once they get into public schools. On top of the not-so-healthy choices, my elementary son has a whopping 15 minutes to get in from recess, scarf down his food and be ready to move to the next class. I was shocked the first time I visited my son for lunch at school. He barely had time to chew his food! It's another reinforcement of poor eating habits that will lead to obesity!

  4. I absolutely agree. It is ridiculous. I pack my daughter's lunch, but you would not believe the garbage they feed the kids as “school lunch”: chicken nuggets, pizza, nachos, etc. They also offer a SALAD as a choice but do you know how many kids pick the salad? Like 2, in the whole school. Oh, and don't forget the chocolate milk, every. single. day.

  5. Ive been shocked by the school lunches, yes, but also by what the PARENTS WHO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE SCHOOL LUNCHES SEND!!
    Ive seen many of their kids bring what amounts to all sugar lunches.
    from home.
    it's pervasive.

  6. I am not a believer in home schooling – probably because I live in a state where anyone can home school and really – I think some of the anyone's should not even be parents, let alone have a total lock on their child's day . . . But I digress. . .

    Knowing what I know now (which I did not have the clear mind to see when my children were in school) – I would gladly offer to help support and homeschool my future grandchildren if it meant they would not be subjected to obesity conditioning in nursery school and elementary school.

  7. It is SO fun to compare recipes, especially those attached to holidays like Thanksgiving! Oh, the emotional attachments! The fur can fly… Thanks for sharing this story. It reminded me how glad I was that my kids liked to take their lunches all through school (and were able to).
    Anita R.

  8. I know people like to point to this and cry 'nanny state!' but I wouldn't mind it if they forced kids to eat nutritious foods at school. This is the policy of our government because the USDA is run for the benefit of the food industry, not consumers.Look it up, their charter is to help the agriculture industry. It's not a nanny state, it's a corporate state, set up to foster maximum profit, not maximum health.

  9. “I'm hoping that conscientious parents along with Michelle Obama's fight against childhood obesity will raise awareness, and will begin to make important changes. Hotdogs, cheeseburgers, pizza sticks etc. should be the exception, not the norm.”

    I definitely agree.

  10. I am a total believer in home schooling and did it for ten years. My purpose was simple — give my girls the best education without having them indoctrinated in things I could not accept. If I had it to do over again, this would be yet another reason to take on that hard job.

    Here is another story from last month about a four year old having her lunch deemed unacceptable and being given chicken nuggets instead. Ridiculous I say. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/n-c-food-inspector-sends-girls-lunch-home-after-determining-its-not-healthy-enough/

  11. I too wrote a blog about this very issue. It's disturbing. If the parent wasn't sending in a healthy meal, I could see speaking with them about it, but not allowing them to pack? CRAZY!

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