I learned today that those Nutri-Grain frozen waffles I give my kids are actually less heallthy than the low-fat toaster waffles and that we should be eating Triscuits not Wheat Thins.
I also found that glazed doughnuts at Dunkin’ Doughnuts have 330 calories and we should instead be choosing cinnamon doughnuts without the goo (or no doughnuts at all).
All this useful information was in a book called “Eat This, Not That For Kids,” by David Zinczenko with Matt Goulding, the kid’s version of the adult book by the same name minus the kids.
The book rates kids meals at a bunch of fast food restaurants and gives them letter grades, so Wendy’s gets an A- because it offers some healthy foods like chili and mandarin oranges, while Burger King gets a C- for having only a few kids’ items on the menu, none of which are healthy.
I was turned on to this book by a huge group of fifth graders who gathered around the book at my younger son’s book fair. I started reading it while I was working at the book fair and when I brought it home my sons loved it too. My older son loves telling me that I should be giving him chewy granola bars instead of the Nutri-Grain bars I’ve been buying.
I especially like the fact that they rate the fast food places but of course the true solution is to avoid fast food except for special occasions. So, while it’s useful to know that the Whopper Jr. is more healthy than the cheeseburgers my kids favor at B.K., the underlying idea that we can find truly healthy food in the drive-in line is just way off.
Then again, most of us do resort to occasional fast food. At my house, pizza is a weekly ritual – so much so that I’ve taken to eating salads at the pizza parlor.
Much of it is also common sense. Ben & Jerry’s gets a C- because of all the fat and sugar and the book tells me that the ice-cream with all the candy and goo (like my beloved New York Super Fudge Chunk) is a no-no and I should opt for the sorbet and frozen yogurt instead. I have always known as I stood by the ice-cream refrigerator that sorbet would be healthier and I still choose the Super Fudge Chunk or the Vanilla Heathbar.
I make most of our meals at home and we try to eat healthy. We don’t have many snacks and we don’t allow soda and I’m happy to see that many of the “Eat This” choices, like Frosted Miniwheats and Skippy Natural are my choice anyway. We skirt the line between organic and meat and potatoes at my house.
Then there’s my thin, low-weight children who look like they skip most of their meals and who seem destined to remain under 100 pounds forever. I was a tall, knobby-kneed youngster myself but here’s what the doctor told me: “Feed them everything you can’t eat: butter, cheese, oils, nuts.” He added that we shouldn’t binge out on junk and we haven’t but I’m not so worried about fat and calories for my kids. I’m more worried about teaching them healthy eating habbits for life.
Still, “Eat This, Not That,” is a good read for kids and adults. If nothing else, it reinforces that we can make better choices even if it’s just a Whopper over a cheeseburger.