Sep 04 2009

Let’s Walk the Walk

At the beginning of every school year, we spend endless hours preparing our classrooms for the most dreaded evening of the year, Open House. This annual event is our first opportunity to present our curriculum and classroom policies to a conglomeration of parents ranging from the overzealous to the semi-comatose. You know those folks, the ones in the front row, who frantically jot down every syllable which rolls from your lips making a special effort to take note of the exact date and time. Whereas the back row usually consists of overworked, stressed out mothers and fathers who are so jacked up on caffeine and sugar that they can’t stop asking their neighbor, “What did she just say?’ as they fiendishly text and answer emails on their Blackberries. Then somewhere in between the whiteboard and the back row, we find the bobble heads. The ones suffering from periodic episodes of narcolepsy because their blood sugar levels are plummeting faster than a penny dropped from the Empire State Building. If their eyes aren’t glazed over from malnutrition, their little peepers are hyper focused on the coffee, punch, and cookies being unveiled by the cafeteria staff, but then again teachers, so are ours. What’s wrong with this picture? How can we possibly expect our students to make healthy choices, if many of the adults in their lives don’t know how? In order to be successful in our battle against childhood obesity, two things are key… education and emulation.

Every year as I spout off my Top Ten List of Pet Peeves during Open House, I specifically mention, “Please pack your child a HEALTHY lunch and snack.” This obviously means different things to different people but why? For example, Sally removes a zip locked plastic bag stuffed with plump, juicy strawberries and a small bottle of water, while Tommy ferociously slurps down a juice box and gobbles up a fist full of chocolate covered raisins. This may seem like a blatantly obvious comparison, but believe it or not Tommy’s mother thought she was making a good selection. The packaging on the juice box stated it contained 100% real fruit juice, but what she didn’t read on the nutrition label was that the “real” juice contained 28 grams of sugar and was naturally and artificially flavored. Say what? And those chocolate covered raisins, which the food company touted as being a natural source of antioxidants from real fruit and dark CHOCOLATE, contained 32 grams of sugar. However, the good news is that that particular brand of chocolate covered raisins has 30% less fat than its competitor.

At times, many teachers are also at fault for not being healthy role models for their students. How often have you frantically rifled through your desk drawers hoping to uncover a year old box of Valentines Day candy, or maybe you’ve secretly slid your finger along the bottom of a leftover birthday cake for a quick fix before the endless afternoon faculty meeting? Or worse, maybe you’ve even stooped so low as to dash across the parking lot during a class trip just to satisfy your craving for a Starbucks Caramel Macchiato which only the Jaws of Life could pry from your hands?

Obviously, there is something very wrong with this overall picture, and a “quick fix” isn’t going to conquer our nation’s fight on childhood obesity. At some point, most of us have fallen victim to deceptive marketing schemes and purchased chemically altered food items just because we were in too much of a hurry to read the fine print. It’s time for most of us to wake up and place our families’ health ahead of convenience. First, we as parents and educators must learn the basic principals of good nutrition, but more importantly we must live it! Education and emulation are the keys, and the Nerdhealth team is here to show you how. So to all of you “do gooders” out there who opt for celery, fresh fruit, carrot sticks, and a bottle of water over a carbo load and a pot of coffee, keep up the good work! You’re on the right track, now we just have to get the rest of the nation there!


Posted in: Teacher To Teacher