October 2011 | Hotlunch.com | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 2, Issue 5]

Kids Who Go On Diets
Being overweight or obese is not good for kids of any age, but how do we deal with it? Do we put kids on diets? And if so, which ones? Adults who gain weight seem to go on weight loss diets all the time. Every decade brings a few new fad diets. But it’s one thing for an adult to go on a diet, but what about a child? When are we too young to be dieting?
Kids Who Diet: When Are They Too Young?
This article looks at the problems that childhood dieting could cause. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies and body image issues are a couple of them. Plus, the success rate of most diets for long lasting weight loss is pretty low. So what’s the solution? Here’s how you can help your kids:
  • Get them active. Talk about physical activities that will help burn extra calories and keep the body in good shape.
  • Focus on healthy foods. Rather than accentuate the negative “don’t eat this or that” message of a fad diet, talk about the foods that are good for kids: vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, low-fat dairy, nuts and legumes.
  • Emphasize health rather than body image.
Is Caffeine Bad for Kids
Teens like coffee drinks Ė and energy drinks. But some experts are concerned that too mch caffeine may be bad for young people. There are questions about the safety of energy drinks, which are always high in caffeine, but even drinking coffee can be a problem. Not only with the caffeine, but so many coffee drinks are loaded with sugar.


This article takes a look at caffeine and how it can affect teenagers. One concern is bone health because some experts worry that coffee may be replacing other beverages that are high in calcium and other nutrients.

What you can do to help your teen students:

  • Talk about caffeine. Too much caffeine makes people jittery and unable to pay attention.
  • Explain why water or low-fat milk is a better choice than sugary coffee drinks that are high in calories.
  • Let teens know that energy drinks may contain ingredients that can harm people when taken in excess. Certain herbs can interact with the caffeine. Plus energy drinks are usually considered dietary supplements so they can legally contain more caffeine than other soft drinks.
Coconut Water Ė a New Trend

Coconut water appears to be the next big thing in hydration, so itís becoming trendy as a sports drink because it contains carbohydrates, and minerals. Coconut water is a clear liquid extracted from young green coconuts. But itís not calorie-free like plain H2O water.

Coconut water compares favorably to sports drink

This article describes the nutritional values of coconut water. Itís got a lot of potassium and a bit of calcium and magnesium, but not as much sodium as most sports drinks. If youíre looking for a new healthy way to hydrate, coconut water is fine, but athletes who rely on sports drinks for recovery after extensive amounts of physical activity may need a bit more sodium.

Calorie Counting Confusion in Fast Foods

Fast food items are usually high in fat, sodium and calories. But it appears that many kids may not realize just how high in calories they are. Even though most fast food restaurants provide calorie counts for all of their menu items, most kids underestimate the calorie counts of their fast food meals.

Teens underestimate calories in the fast-food meals, study finds

This article describes a Harvard medical school study that found 80% of young people underestimated the calories counts of their fast food meals by 500 to 700 calories.

Talk to your students about fast foods:
  • Discuss the good verses bad for fast foods. They’re cheap, but generally not so good for you.
  • Talk about better fast food choices. For example, salads instead of fries, water instead of sugary soda.
  • Teach kids about portion sizes. A small burger and fries may have significantly fewer calories than the largest items.
Foods Ads for Kids Ė A Debate

A recent hearing in Washington looked at the potential for limiting the amount and kinds of food advertisements that can be aimed at kids. It’s an interesting issue because it seems that a lot of the food being promoted isn’t all that healthy.

Guidelines debated to limit food ads for kids

There’s always two sides to every story, right? This article looks at both angles of this debate. Do we protect our kids from seeing commercials for junk foods? Or is that just too much regulation and government interference? And which advertising should be regulated, ads on TV, the Internet, or even in the grocery store?  Might make for an interesting debate in class…

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Food Safety and Eggs

Some raw eggs carry bacteria that can cause a nasty digestive tract infection called salmonellosis. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps and can appear anywhere from 12 hours to three days after eating contaminated eggs. Most people recover without any problems, but infants, the elderly and those with impaired immune systems may become very sick.

You can't tell which eggs are contaminated with salmonella by looking at them or smelling them, so you need to treat all raw, unpasteurized eggs as potential carriers and follow proper food safety practices. The US Food and Drug Administration requires cartons of raw eggs that aren't treated to kill the salmonella to carry the following statement:

“Safe Handling Instructions: To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.”

When you’re shopping at the grocery store, choose raw eggs that are refrigerated and never buy eggs that are being sold at roadside stands or farmers markets unless they are being sold in refrigerated cases at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Open the carton to be sure the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked. Egg products sold in liquefied, dried or frozen form must be pasteurized to kill the salmonella (look on the label), but remember that frozen and liquid egg products should be handled as raw food.

When it's time to cook your eggs, be sure all cooking surfaces, equipment, utensils and your hands are clean. Keep raw eggs away from cooked or ready-to-serve foods to prevent cross-contamination. And don't lick spoons or eat raw dough or batter made with raw eggs. Cook eggs until both whites and yolks are firm. Bake quiches, casseroles and other egg dishes to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If your recipes call for raw or undercooked eggs as part of the final product, be sure to choose eggs that have been treated to kill salmonella or use pasteurized egg products.
More About School Lunches and Healthy Kids

One in five Americans vulnerable to foodborne illness, review finds

Broccoli health benefits require the whole food, not supplements, says study

Vitamin A Supplements For Children - 600,000 Lives Could Be Saved Per Year**

Meal Making Mistakes - What Parents Do Wrong**

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 and the Association of Health Car Journalists.   Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website About.com (http://nutrition.about.com), is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies (http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470445394.html), and teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.