Have you seen a child at a birthday party who has cake and ice cream and then uncontrollably runs wild? Children getting donuts or pancakes before school have a barrier to succeeding in the classroom. I have ADD (attention deficit disorder), and I have found it to be strongly impacted by what I eat.
After earning a master’s in human health, I worked as a nutrition consultant for a concierge physician to the rich and famous. The physician-supported research unearthed an ideal diet for the human brain. Bad news, folks: It consists mainly of fruits and vegetables in a wide range of colors with beans for fiber and nuts for omega-3s. In nature, vitamins are represented by color. To consume a rainbow of foods is actually a perfect multivitamin superior to Flintstones. Our meat (preferably fish) servings should be the smallest thing on the plate. I taught patients to adopt the Skittles commercial and “taste the rainbow” in produce.
Our culture does not support a healthy diet for our children, as chicken nuggets with fries do not actually meet many nutritional needs. It is fast, cheap, and kids love it, but it does not support brain development or executive function. Dr. Payne’s insight into the hidden rules of social class surrounding food state that for families living in poverty, the goal is to fill stomachs because food insecurity is a real battle. Middle class families have the opportunity to improve the quality of family nutrition to address health, and wealth class has had quality food on the table consistently enough to desire an appealing presentation. This parallels the story of the “three little pigs.” One built his house out of straw. Poverty class only has access to nutritional straw to build the minds of children in the home. Middle class has access to nutritional sticks, and wealth class can access nutritional bricks. The difference in nutrition between socioeconomic class has been exacerbated by greed entering the marketplace. Our food has shifted from nutrition to commodity. Highly processed foods are more affordable and less nutritious, and they store longer and ship easier, thus increasing the profit margin.
Oscar Mayer researchers discovered that highly processed meat increases cancer rates among consumers. It was around that time when Oscar Mayer came up with Lunchables. The Lunchables product was brought down to eye level in grocery stores; kids don’t read labels. The highly processed cheese had a longer shelf life than real cheese, so Lunchables contain American “cheese.” After a day of minimum wage labor, parents on SNAP can pack a lunch without packing, but processed foods such as Lunchables increase cancer risk.
Most of us evolved from hunter-gatherers, but our society has evolved faster than our bodies; therefore, our nutritional needs are not aligned. Our ancestors munched constantly on dark, leafy greens, but now it’s a struggle to get a child to eat spinach or kale. Sneak it in when you can! Cilantro is a dark, leafy green, and who doesn’t love Mexican food? Getting orange vegetables into children can be a struggle, but the following recipe is a roll of the dice with a great nutritional punch.
When was the last time you ate orange vegetable soup?
Chicken bone broth
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 sweet potato
Wash and cut all the veggies in half, and remove the seeds from the squash. Do not peel. Throw them in the crockpot in the morning on low before you leave for work, or place them face down on a baking sheet at 300 degrees with a touch of olive oil if you will be home. Cook until very tender. Scrape the soft squash and potato flesh from the peel with a spoon, and mash all ingredients with broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Serves four.