Ms Obama has two teenage daughters similar in age to my two daughters. She has a husband who travels frequently and has long hours. She has taken on the school lunch industry, trying to improve the nutritional value of what our kids eat when they are not at home. She is lucky if she gets one thank you a week from the girls (speaking from personal experience here). I hope she gets a daily thank you from her husband. And few people are thanking her for trying to improve school lunches. Parents and students are complaining about the small portion sizes, the substitution of whole wheat products, the insistance on taking a fruit or vegetable. So I want her to know that someone among the American people thanks her everyday.
Last week our local paper featured the winning Minnesota recipe in the Epicurious Healthy Lifetime Challenge – a contest for students from throughout the US to submit healthy recipes that they had created. Quinoa and Black Beans was created by Sophia Webster. I made a few changes in the recipe, substituting fresh vegetables for frozen, and served to a group of 10 adults and kids last weekend. The adults loved it; the kids thought it was fair to good. I have set the goal of trying to cook one of the recipes each week for the coming year. My kids are in charge of choosing the recipe and cooking
Trying to get our kids to eat healthier will only happen if we as adults do the same. Serving them one nutritious meal a day is certainly a start, but we need to continue that trend at home. Our kids need to see us filling our plates with fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread and meat. They need to be part of the preparation time at dinner. This doesn’t need to happen every night, but we should try to make it happen as often as possible.
I see the results of the past 20 years of poor diets in my office on a daily basis. Last week, two of my pregnant patients weighed 300 pounds. The risks to their unborn children are present before they are even born and continue after birth due to unhealthy diets and lifestyle that will be perpetuated on the next generation. I often need to move large bottles of soda and bags of chips off the bedside table when I make rounds on mothers after delivery. Women in middle age suffer from joint pain and muscle stiffness due to lack of activity and carrying around excess weight for many years.
Ms Obama is a mother so she understands that the “thank yous” and appreciation from her children will probably occur in the future. I hope the appreciation from the American people will also come in the future, when we start to see a healthier generation of kids becoming adults.