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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Food Part II

Susan Norwood continues with her discussion of Food Books, Part II

Let me say at the outset that I am overweight—not morbidly so, but I could easily shed 20 pounds I have high blood-pressure, need to eat more healthfully, and I’m not proud to admit this. Our kids are in the same position.

Everyone knows that teenagers are obsessed about their looks. Boys and girls worry about their weight, and no one wants to be fat. We have a dress code at our school. Students are supposed to wear their pants at the waist and have their shirts tucked in. It’s a struggle to enforce, especially with the boys who wear knee-length shirts. For some, these enormous shirts are a way to hide belly rolls.

Recently, I asked my students to write an essay about their favorite restaurants. They rhapsodized about the chains they love: McDonalds, Taco Bell, O’Charley’s, Olive Garden, Red Robin, etc. Restaurants are happy places for them. They LOVE to eat out; however, they have no clue about what’s in their food. While they may not know about nutrition, they do know that lots of calories and fat grams are bad.

I brought in a copy of my book, Eat This, Not That (2008) by Zinczenko and Goulding. As my kids would say, these authors have “cred.” They are editors for Men’s Health. Zinczenko has also written The Abs Diet and The Abs Diet For Women (which I could surely use). The book is highly popular with both boys and girls, avid and reluctant readers.  It is colorful, loaded with pictures, and easy to understand. The facts are laid out in sidebar and large captions.  The information is easy to grasp at a glance.

What kind of information does it contain? Well, for starters, let’s go back to the maligned Chicken McNuggets from The Omnivore’s Dilemma. You’d think that McDonald’s Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips would be a much healthier choice, but NO. Five pieces with creamy ranch sauce (yum) has 830 calories and 55 grams of fat. According to the authors, this is equivalent to 20 Chicken McNuggets. OMG. At this point, they accuse me of “hatin’ on McDonalds,” but I assure them that I’m not. I just make different choices when I go.

Here’s another zinger. I used to feel so self-righteous when I’d order the Taco Salad at Wendy’s. It was a salad, but add the best part, the crispy hard shell, and it’s no longer so healthy. That shell alone adds 370 calories and 20 grams of fat. I could go on with shocking examples from this book all day long. It is that engrossing. Kids can flip through the section on their favorite restaurants, which is arranged alphabetically. Then they can peruse various sections, such as Candy, Movie food, Vending Machine food, School Cafeteria food, Cereals, Snacks, etc. Everything a kid is likely to eat. There is another book in this series, Eat This, Not That For Kids: Be the Leanest, Fittest Family On the Block (2008). This book contains more examples of foods to eat and avoid. The emphasis is a little more on kid food: pizza, hamburgers, tacos, mac n’ cheese, etc. But, it is food that adults eat too.

Again, these books are popular. Students regularly ask to take them home to share with their family. These books should be in classroom and school libraries. They could be utilized in classes other than Reading, such as Math, Science, and Health. Take a look at them. I guarantee you will not put the book down once you pick it up.

Next by Susan: Funny Food books.