Saturday, February 19, 2011

Food Pyramid Discussions

You all remember this pictorial, right? Courtesy of the USDA...

Elliot, the six-year-old has been learning about this diagram in his health and PE class. This past Thursday we were talking about it, looking at it, labeling it, when I had a brainstorm. Suppose we, as a family, keep track of what we eat for the course of a day and track it on a blank copy of the current pyramid? Not altering too much what we eat or go terribly out of our way to fill the requirements, but just to see how we typically fare in getting our recommendations.

Huh. Talk about eating like food matters. When you stop to think about everything you put in your mouth and where you will plot it on the pyramid...all of a sudden, the purchase of a small bag of pretzel M&Ms becomes super-important and thought-provoking.

Because honestly, where would you put it? Does it really do anything for your body?

These are the questions we are asking ourselves today as we attempt this "experiment". The earlier dialogues are the by-products of the day's progress.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Holy Grains, Batman!

We here at the Nelson Ranch are conducting an food experiment today, which I will discuss in a later post. But for's something rather stunning...

According to the new food pyramid, my children should consume 6 oz. of grains a day. Furthermore, one cup of Cheerios (any dry cereal, really) equals 1 oz. However, one cup of homemade granola (yours truly found a pretty phenomenal recipe last weekend) provides 2.5 oz. of grains.

Thus, the kiddos get more bang for the buck from the homemade stuff. This isn't shocking news for those of you who do a lot of your own stuff...but it kind of was for me. And then there's Brent, the poor guy, who should consume 9 oz. of grains a day! Won't he rethink what he eats for breakfast now!


The kids finished up a bag of Totino's pizza rolls. I made a meat-cheese-and-veg wrap for Brent and I. Brent also consumed a serving of pizza rolls...even after he estimated the paltry numbers of veg/cheese/meat/grain amount in said pizza rolls.

Take a look at the comparison, will ya?

1 serving (six rolls) Pizza Rolls counts for:

1 oz. grains
1/8 c. veg
1/4 c. dairy
1/2 oz. meat
2 tsp oil (six tsp. recommended a day for kids and myself, eight for Brent).

Of course, pizza rolls are so processed that it's really hard to know the numbers - the ones above are rough estimations...generous ones at that, I think. It's no surprise that once the six pizza rolls were gone, my kids were still hungry...after all, there was nothing really of substance on their plates. We supplemented with a cup of milk and 1/2 cup of grapes.

On the other hand, I made myself and Brent a wrap - here's the breakdown:

One multigrain wrap: 2 oz. grains
Shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and hummus: 1/2 c. veg
Hummus/Cheese: 1 tsp of oil
Cheese: 1/2 c. dairy
6 slices of deli turkey: 2 oz. meat and beans

I also added a banana as dessert, which counted for another cup of fruit.

I wish I had a nice little graphic or pie chart to illustrate the Tale of Two Lunches. It doesn't take a sentence diagrammer to understand that the wrap is much, much better for a human body than pizza rolls. Heck, everyone knows that. So, instead, consider these gems of insight:

1. By the time my daughter preheated the oven and cooked the pizza rolls, I'd gathered all the goods for my wraps, made them, ate them, and put away all the stuff I'd made them with. So much for "quick and convenient", eh?

2. My husband spent several minutes trying to decipher the list of pizza roll ingredients and ultimately came to this conclusion: the harder a food is to classify into one of the basic food groups, the worst is probably is for you. Brilliant, Brent.

3. One serving of pizza rolls(6) equals 210 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber. My lunch equaled 320 calories, 13.5 grams of fat (mostly the cheese!), 9.5 grams of fiber. Because we're so worried about calories in this country, most people's first reaction to judge the wrap lunch as worse. More calories...more fat...more evil. But...look at how many MORE servings of grains/veg/dairy/meat I got in my lunch compared to my kids. Look at how much MORE fiber I got.

My kids ate mostly oil and fat for their lunch...not me, though. Remember, too, after my banana, I was totally full...however, they consumed ANOTHER serving of pizza rolls, and drank an extra glass of milk and finished the meal with grapes - only then did this sate their continuing hunger.

The nefarious bag of pizza rolls is now gone, and there will be no need to ever purchase them again. They serve absolutely no purpose.

Okay...I am now off to post about our family's food experiment - within which these comments have been made.