THE BLOG

Eating Up Nutrition

05/19/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By:Javier Cabral

Nutrition and I go way back. Way back.

I was about fifteen when I no longer could mindlessly inhale a 99 cent bag of Doritos with a can of Hawaiian Punch. Let's take a moment to mourn that excess.

Okay, moment is over.

See, I grew up in East Los Angeles. For most K-12 students, chips and soda seemed to be--and still is--the beloved lunch. That lunch calls to you as an extremely convenient, cheap and tasty option.

I was lucky enough to have a natural curiosity for nutrition, which led me to watch videos on YouTube to see how food is produced, and how we've become so separated from the food chain. I watched the way animals were being treated to produce food for consumption and I decided, at that point, to try my best to be a vegetarian.

I eventually found myself reading ingredient labels for fun. Then came other food writing.
Eventually I started my own foodblog. So, I'd preach to my friends, but they consumed greasy pizza and chips. I would take what their parents packed--some fruit--before they threw it away. After all, fruit has more vitamins and more fiber than chips. Plus, a bowl of strawberries or a ripe pear can be just as tasty.

First Lady Michelle Obama has made nutrition a priority. She wants children to learn about healthy eating, to get habits that will make them better, more active adults. This month, she spoke to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, asking them to produce food with more nutrition. Her message: cut out the temptation for junk food.

It is a tough battle to cut the junk. Turn on the television and you'll see endless fast food commercials. It is a universal fact that FAT IS FLAVOR. Deep fry anything and shake some salt on it and presto: your mouth waters. But we need to remember that good eating starts young.

There's no reason kids should have to eat junk food for lunch. We need to rethink cafeteria-style lunches. Forget pizza or grilled cheese sandwiches. Think about some tasty options like whole wheat Pita Bread with a thick smear of hummus. Or look up Quinoa and sub it for rice. Eat some toast with peanut butter and a chopped banana. Pack a green apple. I have to admit--I don't look at the cost of food items. My belief is that it is better to eat healthy than worry about the price of health. I know it is difficult for families to do the same, especially in this economy. But my advice is, you can splurge on health. Buy in bulk. Or make a list to ensure that you are buying at least one or two healthy items a week.

"Eat along the colors of the rainbow" should completely replace slogans like "I'm loving it." And if the young ones don't take kindly to carrot sticks and lettuce, work it in gradually. Make time to bake simple muffins. Tell them to fold some shredded carrots in the batter. Try to make homemade versions of your favorite junk food with your children.

You'll be surprised at how healthy chicken mcnuggets can be! Better yet, you can find out by making this easy recipe online.

Bon Appetit!

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