Posted 15 April 16
Last week I had the opportunity to talk to a group of middle school students about nutrition. They had a lot of perceptive questions that reflected some of the same concerns and confusions many of my adult clients have about food choices. This confusion isn't surprising; it is the result of expensive and clever marketing campaigns designed to claim maximum food dollars. Consumers often make their choices based on the verbiage (“good” or “bad”) on the packaging rather than its contents.
For example several years ago, the hot advertising words were "fat-free". People seemed not to notice the excess sugar that replaced the fat in their usual foods; we also seemed not to recognize the ridiculousness of certain kinds of candy being perceived as “healthier” than others because they were "fat-free". Fast forward a few years and now the current buzz words are "no added sugar", "gluten-free", "no-GMO", "organic" and so forth.
In an effort to simplify the nutritional landscape for these kids, I laid out five guidelines, the final three of which my foodie friends will recognize as coming from Michael Pollan's work "Food Rules".
It was exciting to see that more than half of the kids felt like they had control over some of the major nutritional choices being made in their homes and felt like they could help their families to make better choices. Even more exciting at the end of our talk was seeing the number of kids who headed to the raspberry-water and fruit slices instead of the soda and pizza slices.