December 2010 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 11, Issue 1]

Family Eating Habits Improving Slowly

How much do your students and their families know about eating healthful foods?  It looks like kids and their parents are getting a good grasp of what to not to eat, but could maybe use a little help figuring out which foods are good for them.

Most kids know they should avoid eating too many fat and sugary foods, and they know they need to eat their vegetables, but the food group they forget about is the bread and cereal group.  I think that’s understandable, though because while whole grain breads and cereals without added sugars are healthful, kids are probably more familiar with processed white bread and colorful sugary cereals.

Nationwide Survey on Family Eating Behaviors and Physical Activity Reveals Positive Changes and Opportunities

The American Dietetic Association created a fascinating survey that looks at family eating behaviors and physical activity.  It appears family eating habits are improving, but there’s still some work to do.  I also found it interesting that kids think physical activity could be increased with more in-school and after-school activities.
How to help kids improve family eating habits:
  • Teach kids about the food groups and what healthful foods fit into each group.
  • Make sure kids know how important eating breakfast is for their health and scholastic performance in school.
  • Have your students make up their own survey project and see how students in your school feel about nutrition.  
Energy Drinks and Alcohol Abuse

There’s been news lately about energy drinks that contain both caffeine and alcohol; mostly concerns about the safety. In fact, drinks that contain both caffeine and alcohol have been banned in some places.  But does the concern for energy drinks and alcohol use (and abuse) go deeper than that?

Some experts are worried that there might be a correlation between teens and young adults drinking highly caffeinated energy drinks and consuming alcohol.  Could this be just a correlation with one having nothing to do with the other or could all that caffeine lead to excessive alcohol consumption later?

Study: Do Energy Drinks Lead to Alcohol Abuse?

A study by researchers at the University of Maryland and John Hopkins looks at a possible link between drinking large amounts of standard energy drinks, without alcohol, and alcohol consumption.  It’s not yet clear if one leads to the other, but it’s something to think about.
Teens: Cutting Salt Now May Mean a Healthier Heart Later

Anyone who eats much processed food probably gets too much sodium, and this is especially true for American teenagers, who eat more salt and sodium-containing foods than any other age group.

There are plenty of studies that show eating too much salt and sodium leads to high blood pressure in many people – maybe about 1/3 of the population is sensitive to sodium – and high blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 

Less Salt In Teenagers' Diet May Improve Heart Health In Adulthood

This article explains why teens can improve their future heart health by cutting back on sodium now.  The average teen consumed 3800 milligrams  (mg) of sodium every day, while the current recommendations are for no more than 2400 mg.  And look for that number to go down to about 1500 mg per day when the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 comes out in December.

Here are some ideas for cutting sodium:
  • Serve low sodium and reduced sodium foods in your lunch program.
  • In health class, explain how sodium affects blood pressure and how that can be bad for the heart in later adulthood.
  • In cooking classes, feature recipes that are heart healthy and low in sodium.
High-Calorie Drinks Still Widely Sold in U.S. Elementary Schools

We have national guidelines that discourage the sale of sugary soft drinks to elementary students, but a new study finds that a lot of young kids are still able to purchase high-calorie beverages in schools. And that’s sad because there is a strong link between the consumption of sugary soft drinks with obesity and onset of diabetes. 

A researcher from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that 45 percent of public schools in the United States still offer sugary soft drinks to children of elementary school age. And the numbers are even worse in private schools. This research study is at odds with a report put out by the American Beverage Association. Their report states that 99 percent of school districts with beverage contracts comply with the voluntary guidelines.
Hmmm…. That’s a big disparity.

How you can help at your school:
  • Remove vending machines from elementary schools.
  • Explore other funding opportunities for the school.
  • Or stock vending machines with milk, 100% juice and water.
  • Teach elementary students about healthy beverages.
What Makes This Superfood so Super?

Superfoods do more than fill your stomach; they offer extra health benefits, like pomegranates.  Several years, about pomegranates were considered by many to be an exotic fruit, but today you can find them in most grocery stores across the country.  Large red pomegranates don’t look like much on the outside, but when you cut one open, you’ll see the beautiful red arils inside.

So what makes them a superfood?
Pomegranates contain antioxidants that keep your arteries healthy and my help to prevent prostate cancer. These antioxidants include tannins, ellagic acids and anthocyanins.  Pomegranates are rich in vitamin C and potassium, are a good source of fiber and they’re veryl ow in calories.

What to look for:
Pomegranates should be bright to dark red and the skin should be smooth with no cracks. You can also buy pomegranate juice, however you’ll want to look at the ingredients label because many brands contain other juices such as apple or grape juice. There’s nothing wrong with apple or grape juice, but if your looking for the health benefits of pomegranates, you’ll want to buy 100% pomegranate juice.


Make it tasty and keep it healthy:
It takes a little work to get the beautiful garnet-red arils out of a fresh pomegranate but it’s worth the effort.  You can eat the arils just as they are or sprinkle them on a salad or add them to a vegetable side dish.  Pomegranate juice makes a refreshing beverage for a mid day snack.


How Awesome is is the only web-based system of its kind. Take a look at these testimonials to see how made an impact for these schools.

Here are some of the new features introduced in our 2010 version!
  • Parents can order from a calendar like menu.
  • Newly formatted coupons/ meal tickets.
  • School can offer discounted or free meals.
  • Add images to your menu items, great for fund raisers.
  • Multiple levels of Administrator  access, control access at your school.
  • Automated Cut-off dates.
  • Ability to issue credits for Snow days, or no lunch days.
  • Parents can  copy an order from one child to another.
  • Pre select drinks for the entire menu in advance.
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Please show your support and become a "Fan" of! Visit our Facebook­ Page and select the text "Become a Fan" from the top right.

More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

Can Food Additives Affect ADHD?

Raising Vegetarian Kids? Here Are Some Pointers

Dietitians Weigh In On Pizza

The Science Behind Why We Love Ice Cream

About Shereen Jegtvig

Shereen Jegtvig is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master’s degree in human nutrition and is a member of the American Dietetic Association. Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website ( and is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies (