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The Reality of Food in High Schools

 by Rachel Gebaide

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Over the last seven months, I have spent a good deal of time around a local High School. It saddens me to see the way these kids are eating. It’s no wonder that heart disease, obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol are prevalent in so many young adults. This problem is more prevalent now than ever before. Let’s take a look at the typical breakfast of a teenager. They get up in the morning and the first thing they put into their mouth is either a bagel with cream cheese or butter or a bowl of sugary cereal. Breakfast is just what it says, it breaks the overnight fast. Eating breakfast is so important. It allows you to restock the energy that was depleted overnight and begin the day with a “full tank of Gas”. Dr.William Sears says “sending your child to school without breakfast is like trying to use a cordless power tool without ever recharging it.” Things like white bagels or sugary cereals, are simple carbohydrates and chances are your child will “crash” early in the morning feeling sluggish and irritable and tired. Breakfast will also dictate a pattern for the rest of the day. If a child is nourished in the morning, they don’t have to eat erratically or consume “empty” calories that will only make them feel bad.

Fresh fruit is a great way to start out the day. It is the easiest to digest. Fruit is filled with lots of enzymes (which keep our systems working properly), phytonutrients (which means nutrient from a plant - great for protecting the body and fighting disease) and fiber which are totally nonexistent in processed foods. Complex carbohydrates like granola (these can tend to be very high in fats, so read the label) or bran muffins, whole grain waffles, smoothies (you can even throw in some romaine lettuce and it does not even change the taste, but the benefits are amazing) Almond butter on a rice cake is also very good and good for you. A healthy diet is very important for brain growth. Yogurt is pretty high in the amino acid “tyrosine” which is a neurostimulant and is great for brain function.

Our teens are in a stage of their lives where they are growing very rapidly; both their bodies and minds need healthy foods during this critical time to keep things right. Take your teen shopping and encourage them to take part in the planning of their meals. Try to encourage them to stay away from “fast food” which is the highest in unhealthy fats and totally nutrient depleted. It’s very rewarding for them to take a part in their health. Knowing that they are making a difference in their own lives will give them a feeling of accomplishment. It’s a great positive move toward making them responsible adults.


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