Thursday, April 14, 2011

Teen MOPS and Nutrition

A friend of mine asked me to be the "guest speaker" tonight for a Teen MOPS group.  I talked oh-so passionately about one of my favorite subjects (nutrition) to a room of 13 and 14 year old mothers and mothers-to-be.  Surprisingly, the girls were interested and asked good questions.  Yet they are still teenagers.  Just because they are mothers didn't make them instantly convinced of the need for proper nutrition.

Below I'm posting some of my notes.  Please recognize my audience was low-income children.   The girls were all receiving governmental WIC supplements.  Even with this help, often they cannot get a ride to the grocery store and sometimes go hungry.

My goal was to help them think out of the box - literally - away from processed boxed foods.  I wanted them to see real food as easy, delicious and nutritious, all while not overwhelming them.  Not an easy task.

My first question, after a brief introduction, was "what is the number one health problem in America?"  No surprise they were able to answer obesity or something related.

Why is it that Americans are so fat after we've been on a 20+ year campaign for low fat foods?  Why is it that we're an overweight yet undernourished country?

We're eating all the wrong foods.

What are some nourishing foods?
They were able to answer some.

I passed out a slew of nourishing snacks that my family eats.  The first was cheddar cheese cubes.  I held up an eight-ounce block of store brand cheddar cheese.  One girl said, "Oh I've seen that before."

But have you tasted it?

They all liked it.

I asked, "How much does a bag of Doritoes cost?"

A quick reply came - $4.12.

Two packages of this cheese cost me $3.19, that's one pound of cheese for less than a bag of Doritoes.  Which is more nourishing?  They answered correctly.

Let's talk about calories.

Did you know one glazed doughnut has about the same amount of calories as a hard boiled egg?  I could eat a dozen doughnuts (heads bobbed in agreement) but I could not eat a dozen eggs at one sitting.  We talked about how full we'd feel after eating 3 or 4 eggs.  And there's no comparing the nutrition.

Other snacks that I passed around:
avocado - for it's nutrition but not convenience.
almonds and walnuts - nutritious and convenience
dried fruit - cherries, raisins, dates
full fat yogurt - super good for you!
banana - cute and convenient package
sweet potato, cooked with skin on.

Did you know a small jar of babyhood costs at least $0.65?  I paid that for the sweet potato.  Mashed and water added would make at least FOUR jars of baby food.  If you read the label, the first ingredient for baby food is often water.

The girls were surprised to learn that  - all I did to cook the sweet potato was pierce it with a fork and put it in the microwave for 4 minutes.  Reality check.  Did I know to do that at 13?  Not sure that I did.

But I didn't have to make meals at 13, my mom did it for me.  I didn't have to think about where my food would come from, or where I would get diapers for my baby.  I was still very much a child at 13 - as were the girls in the room.

It was an enjoyable, eye-opening evening.  One that made me thankful for loving parents, thankful my husband's family, and more resolute to pray for my children's future spouses.

Family means so much.

At the end of my time, I passed around a handout with the following information.  I based this information on a brochure I asked for at my grocery store, to explain WIC supplements. I was appalled to read that FIVE pages of the booklet were dedicated to juice!! Juice is nothing but empty calories.  And we wonder why diabetes and obesity are rampant in our culture?! Only a half of one page was given to dairy.  Basically, a mother with WIC in Arkansas can buy milk and some cheese - no yogurt, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese.


Ounce for ounce, Doritoes cost more than the most expensive organic fruit.  Our family has chosen to eat good food now with hopes of lower medical bills, increased quality of life and enjoying the taste of real food.

Use WHOLE FAT.  Without fat your body cannot properly digest vitamins and minerals. Babies and children need fat for brain growth, you need it for hormone balance and clear thinking. Do not buy “reduced fat” anything.  When fat is removed, something else replaces it, usually sugar - which turns to fat in your body.

**BUTTER** is so good for you.  Let babies and children eat it by itself, if they want.  I can not stress enough how good butter is.  Do not buy substitutes.
WHOLE milk
**Blocks of real cheese -not velveeta, it’s not cheese, it’s “cheese food product”
**yogurt with as much fat as you can find.  Yogurt is especially good after taking antibiotics and during cold and flu season.  It is very good for you.  Eat it everyday if possible.
cottage cheese - not low fat
sour cream - not low fat

Vegetables and Fruit - If they are in their whole form, I say buy it and eat it a lot!

Bananas are cheap, in a great package and have lots of vitamins and minerals
Sweet potatoes are easy to cook in the microwave.
Applesauce - make sure to read labels.  Most have high fructose corn syrup added.  Be sure to buy no-sugar added.  Be sure it doesn’t have artificial sweetners.  The ingredient label should say: apples (maybe water).
Frozen peas and carrots (partially or completely thawed) are easy healthy snacks for toddlers.
Avocados are super foods.  Eat them as often as you and baby can.
Steaming broccoli or cauliflower in microwave: wrap stems loosely in damp paper towel and cook in microwave for 30 seconds at a time.  I like mine a bit crunchy.  Eat smothered in butter.

Juice  - I do not buy juice.  It is only empty calories. Sugar that turns to fat. If you buy juice, be sure to add at least 1/2 water to child’s cup.

**Eggs are a superfood. Eat them everyday - boiled, fried, scrambled, over easy, etc.
**Peanut Butter (WIC allows for 18oz jar, any brand) - I would buy natural, without sugar added.  You can eat peanut butter on a spoon, or with celery, bananas, apples.  It is easy, good food.
Beans - all kinds, dry or canned.

Use the whole chicken; not just the boneless, skinless breasts.
- It’s cheaper.
- The bones make very nutritious broth.  Broth can be used to make a soup or instead of water when making rice.
- To roast a chicken: if thawed, place chicken in crock pot, naked, on high about 4-6 hours.  Meat will fall off the bones.  It’s that simple.
To make broth: toss bones into crock pot, add 2 T any kind vinegar, cover with cold water.  Cook on low at least 8 hours, up to 48.  Strain - then freeze in bags, 2 or 4 cup quantities.  Homemade broth is a superfood (trace minerals and healing).

Whole grains are best, like whole wheat.  White bread is basically turned to sugar when you eat it.  Sugar turns to fat in your body.
Brown rice has more nutrients than white rice.

Cereal in a box is horrible nutrition.  Marketers want you to believe it’s good.

In his book Fighting the Food Giants, Paul Stitt tells us that the extrusion process used for these cereals destroys most of the nutrients in the grains. It destroys the fatty acids; it even destroys the chemical vitamins that are added at the end. The amino acids are rendered very toxic by this process. The amino acid lysine, a crucial nutrient, is especially denatured by extrusion. This is how all the boxed cereals are made, even the ones sold in the health food stores. They are all made in the same way and mostly in the same factories. All dry cereals that come in boxes are extruded cereals.

Easy Dinner Ideas:
scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast with butter
egg salad (boiled eggs and mayonaise).  To boil an egg, cover cold eggs in tap water bring to a boil on the stove.  Set timer for 10 minutes then turn off heat.  To make it easier to remove the shells, pour off hot water and add ice cubes and more cold water.
poach eggs in marinara sauce: Use a pan to simmer (little bubbles) spaghetti sauce.  Gently crack egg into sauce.  Cover for 3-5 minutes, until egg is cooked through.
Peanut butter and honey sandwich (honey not for babies under one year)
cheese cubes + fruit
baked potatoes (white or sweet) with lots of butter and sour cream
bean burritos: spread a can of refried beans into 8x8 pan (or pie-pan), cover with sour cream then add cheese on top. Sprinkle on 1/2 package of taco seasoning Bake or microwave until heated through.  Eat on a tortilla.

for more real food ideas ::


Dan Julian said...

This is great. I don't know if you've seen it, but has some helpful meal plans for folks on food stamps/WIC assistance. They have priced out their recipes/meal plans at the following cost levels based on North Carolina prices:
--$3.21 using thrifty ingredients
--$4.97 using green ingredients

volscats said...

I loved this. I wish we could be near each other as I would love to talk to you more about this. I want to know how you make everything!

Julie said...

Hi Julie, email me your thoughts on this... but I am wondering what your advice is for people trying to loose weight. I have lost about 20lbs since March 1. I am eating basically fruits, veggies, eggs and chicken. I am in the States now and it is hard because I want to eat all the foods I cannot get overseas, but I am doing good and exercising and I just think if I allowed full fat things in, I would gain and not help my loosing right now. Just wondering your thoughts :) Thanks

Andy and Kiara said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you did this! I wish there was a Teen MOPS program in Phoenix. I'd want to steal your notes and share with them! :)

Lauren said...

Great job. I really hope to be able to work with teen MOPS someday doing something similar and offering lactation services. Seriously, if they breastfed and cloth diapered, it would cut their costs down so so much. I'm sure they were all floored with what you had to say. Crazy they knew that Doritos cost 4.12.


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