After six months of eating school lunch, the blood work reveals….
…very few changes.
Check out my nifty embedded spreadsheet which shows the results of two previous years of lab testing (I am tested every year to get a discount on our health insurance). Skip to recap below if you want to…
Glucose – up by 5, but still within normal range
Cholesterol — down by 20 points (!!)
Blood pressure — no change
Weight — no change
“That’s noble of you,” commented my doctor when I told him about eating school lunches for six months. I sat nervously on the table confessing the project to him. He was kind and quite interested, “That’s like that chef on TV talking about school lunches.” Then he paused, “No, that’s like that that guy from Supersize Me. You know, he saw a lot of doctors.”
Well, it looks like I will not have to see a lot of doctors. I know many of you (and maybe me too) were looking for damning evidence in my lab work pointing to school lunches causing irreparable damage to me as well as all the school kids who consume the food.
Why no smoking gun?
I’m healthy and I was eating school lunches for only one meal per day. The lunches were kid-sized; it was automatic portion control. The lunches do meet the USDA guidelines…grumble, grumble.
When I’m at home I eat fresh fruits and vegetables. I don’t drink alcohol, caffeine, soda or even milk. I drink tons of water.
The project has made food the focus of the past six months of my life. I worry more about what I’m putting into my mouth both during school and after hours. Weight loss experts advise dieters to maintain food journals when they are trying to cut calories. This blog is a twisted kind of food diary. I mean, I have never been more obsessive about cataloging my daily food intake.
You know my glucose went up by 5 mg/dl. Many of my readers suggested I get the A1C test and when I mentioned that to my doctor he remarked, “Only if you fail the fasting glucose would I order the A1C.” My result was still within the normal range. Will my glucose slowly climb over the next six months? It’s hard to say.
Keep in mind that I’m not a child, but a healthy adult. We can only speculate how eating the 101 school lunches that I have eaten these past six months would affect children of all different shapes and sizes.
Honestly, I’m relieved. Although they can’t test for everything, it appears that at least on some measurements, I’m ok. I’d also like to add that since I have stopped eating school lunches, my IBS symptoms have basically disappeared. So there is *something* in those lunches that doesn’t agree with me.
When I left the examination room, my doctor explained to me the need to fast appropriately prior to the tests and then he added with a laugh, “And no chicken McNuggets!”
Hey, this blog project is not Supersize Me, so he doesn’t have to worry. Not to mention I never go to McDonalds.
21 thoughts on “The results are in…. my health is….”
Well, that's probably the thing, the body is really good at detoxing as long as you give it the food/drink/sun/exercise etc. to do. (fresh veggies/water/sun/exercise :-)) Should you have eaten school lunches for every meal exclusively for 30 days, I'd expect your results to be very different…
Hey I am really happy with your LDL cholesterol… it was a tiny bit high before.
Your HDL is also a tiny bit low… but overall nothing to worry about at this point. It would be interesting to see this experiment in a child… though a bit harder to interpret the data.
Happy summer healthy eating! Enjoying your blog!
For a minute I was thinking maybe you were one of those Russian "spies" our government conveniently caught recently. Then I decided you weren't…for now. Great to hear that you're not getting cancer from…you know…eating gross stuff. BTW…no milk? Bad secret lady. Bad. Milk=Good Good=Happy Happy=Milk (see the circle?)
Stepshep, she really didn't keep it a secret. She has said several times that she didn't drink the milk at school.
She is eating yogurt. Some people can not drink milk. Some people will even argue that cow's milk is for baby cows not humans…I'm not one of them, but some will argue.
I agree, that it is great that your health is so great after eating such "gross" stuff. Hard to believe it. It is one child sized meal 5 days a week though.
Does this mean you will step it up and eat breakfast and Lunch at school next semester?
I hope not.
Wow! I'm so glad to see the results. I'm blown away by the cholesterol! You are so healthy and watch everything else you put in your body, I am sure that is a big part of it. If you ate what you eat in school all the time, that might be a different case. Thank you for doing this!!
Also glad to hear your health is good… and I would add that the effects of some of the crappy food additives so prevalent in school lunches are years in the making. Hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup certainly don't lead to terrible problems in the short term – that's why it's so easy for the food lobby to prevent serious regulation of the stuff. But over a lifetime, and three meals a day? Different story altogether.
I'm happy for you! And I am happy to hear the school lunches are that bad after all.
That's great news that your health wasn't adversely affected. And as you mentioned, you had other healthy options outside of the school lunch. Did your doctor say anything about your calcium level? Women lose calcium as their estrogen levels drop, which leads to the onset of osteoporosis. Look into adding more calcium-rich fruits, vegetables and other foods to your diet and be sure to include Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium. Here is just one list of sources: http://www.naturalhealthtechniques.com/diet_nutrition/calcium.htm (I hope you don't mind my including that).
Very interesting. I have always subscribed to the "everything in moderation" philosophy. It's hard to define moderation, but considering what you have said about how your portion sizes were small and that you were eating well the rest of the time, do you think this could apply?
Congratulations – you are blessed with good health!! I think one of the "side lessons" we see is that if you eat well and take good care of yourself MOST of the time, you can have an "off" diet SOME of the time, and still be healthy. And as you well pointed out, you have "automatic portion control". I'm no dietician, that's for sure – but given your obviously healthy lifestyle, I would have been shocked if eating one meal 5 days/week that is not "optimal" would have had a huge impact on your blood work.
That being said – enjoy your summer, and keep up the good fight this fall!
Cholesterol: The rise in triglycerides and the drop in HDL are something to be concerned about, but I'm amazed your LDL hasn't gone through the roof with all those grains! Here, btw, are typical results from the kind of diet I advocate:
Very glad to hear your health hasn't suffered too greatly so far. Just keep listening to your body — and next time, INSIST on the A1C, even if you have to pay for it out of pocket. Enough of these doctors who think we work for them!
You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned that you eat healthy meals when at home/away from school. That's key. Most kids who eat school lunch every day are also eating processed food at home. Imagine eating "school lunch" type foods all day, every day. You were able to keep in under control because you are able to make good choices outside of school and are more aware of food issues. Sadly, most grade school children are not as savvy.
Beyond all the numbers on the blood count, we are encouraging bad eating habits in children. I believe the food that is served at school, and let's face it, often served at kids' homes, creates a palate that accepts junk: frozen, reheated, rehydrated and full of salt and sugar. At least at school, we should strive for fresh food that teaches children about the happiness from good food!
It's great that your health is in check and you pay attention to your diet outside the school lunches. If we could only get students to do that too. That is the point of making school lunches more healthy is the habit they develop as they become adults. Identifying what things and what is good for you and moderation.
I do think sometimes parents can be blamed for not putting more effort into convincing their kids to try new things. They just give in and say "Oh they only like chicken nuggets" That didn't fly in my house growing up. We ate what was put in front of us and fortunately my Italian mother is a great cook. I also think fast food is a cultural thing. Scheduling, economics and over worked parents just opt to feed fast food to kids because it's easier. Society and media have our youths attention and really almost brainwash them and in turn convince there parents. If we could only teach our kids to grow a garden and cook. It would benefit them for a lifetime. Just sayin…
It may be pertinent to mention that every person’s body reacts differently to food. As much as diet plays a role in health, so does genetics. Some people will eat well and exercise and still be overweight and unhealthy in other measurements (cholesterol, blood pressure). While others can eat most anything they want and never seem to gain any weight or adverse health effects (I envy you!). Ms. Q. may be the kind of person that has pretty good genetics; that paired with her healthy lifestyle outside of school resulted in little number changes. Perhaps a person with a family history of high cholesterol or obesity would not fair so well in the blood test.
My consensus: Eating school lunches is far worse for you than Ms. Q’s blood test would lead you to believe…she must have a healthy body!
I guess it's not surprising that your health checkup came back positive. When I know I'm going to be eating unhealthy or am unable to exercise I tend to be a lot more aware of what I eat. Not surprising that you're more aware of eating healthy outside of school knowing that you're ingesting icky food at lunch.
I think this just highlights how important it is that kids be given healthy foods at home and how an overall healthy diet can offset 1 poor meal a day.
Many of the students I work with are eating both breakfast and lunch at school. The portion sizes, however, are not based on age or needs of the individual student. While a "student" size portion might be fine for an adult as far as limiting portion size, it's not appropriate for a kindergartener or first grader to eat the same portion size as a sixth grader. I also have a hard time believing that any student needs 22 grams of fat in a meal. It just can't be healthy.
Glad to see that you are healthy, Ms.Q! Have a healthy and happy summer.
I noticed you did not list your weight, though you listed everything else.
Can we ask you: what is your bmi? you don't have to share your weight. I understand the hesitancy of sharing your weight with the world, but body weight can influence the cholesterol numbers and insulin resistance. Just curious as to how your weight plays into the big picture here.
I was quite shocked when I saw your cholesterol! :)))
My BMI is 24.9…. so right on the cusp of being overweight.
You might consider the thing that disagrees with you from the school lunches is soy. I'm reading The Real Soy Story right now and think you may consider it.
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