Day 73: cheeseburger

Today’s menu: cheeseburger, whole wheat buns, beans, orange, milk

Did you notice real fruit three days in a row? Could it be a coincidence? You readers don’t want me to go on and on about my paranoid tendencies but my brain is screaming “ack!” right now.

The burger tasted good too. Lots of ketchup was used, but still. The beans were piping hot. Warm food is so welcomed.

I chatted with the kids about the food. They ate the burger and drank their milk. The rest was thrown out. That’s really hard for me to stomach.


A little girl told me today, “cake has a lot of fat in it.” Hmm. She must have heard that at home. I associate cake with sugar not fat. I guess if you ate enough cake, it would make you fat but the occasional piece? Not fattening. This thin, young girl is already developing opinions about food based on things she overhears. Watch what you say!

My mom told me that when she was in high school she felt/was fat. In pictures she did not look overweight at all. Anyway, she doesn’t remember if she decided she was fat or her mother made a comment to her or what. I guess that’s irrelevant because my grandmother and my mom went to the doctor. And the doctor prescribed the equivalent of speed, which at the time was acceptable. This was a long time ago. But still, whoa.

I was floored when my mother shared this with me recently. My mother on speed? After I got over my shock (a few days later), I had to chuckle. Anyway, my mom reports that speed did help my mom lose whatever extra weight she was worried about at that time. She was also amazingly productive. The only problem was that when she stopped taking it, her productivity and weight loss all disappeared.

My mom says nonchalantly, “We all have food issues.” Well, I for one do not have food issues. I’m perfectly normal. I just eat school lunch every day.

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48 thoughts on “Day 73: cheeseburger

  1. That just looks really gross. I think I would have done the opposite of the kids and ate the fruit and thrown out the burger.

  2. Cake DOES make you fat. Whatever sugar you take in and don't use gets stored as fat.

  3. I was nine when my dad threw a hissy fit at my mom over the fact that my sister and I were too fat.
    Later, on a fitness evaluation in PE, I lied when it asked for my weight, because I thought 70 pounds was monstrous. I've seen pictures of myself from that time, and I was fine, but I grew up hating myself.

    Please, please be careful what you say around your kids. Things you assume they'll forget you said WILL directly affect their lives.

    Btw, I'm now almost 19 and I think about this every day.

  4. I'm curious about kids peeling oranges too. I hate to peel them, and will only eat them for lunch(at work) if I peel them a head of time, it's just too much work. I'm sure if I was a kid and rushed I would throw it away too…

    I always thought I was fat when I was younger (I can remember thinking it as early as 5th grade) I have no idea why I thought this, but it was always there. I was never fat, though, I wasn't the skinniest but was just pretty average. Even as a teen, when I hardly ever ate, I thought I was fat. Of course now after having 2 kids I am bigger than I was as a teen, but I'm still not fat, fortunately I now know that I'm not fat.

  5. I am not sure if I was always a 'fat' kid, but I did gain a lot of weight right around the time I was sexually molested around age 12. I am sure that there was some connection, as I also remember being depressed. I think about this every time people discuss the problem of 'fat kids'. There are a lot of factors, and not everything is as simple as it seems.

  6. ummm, anonymous @ 6:03…. Cake does not make you fat… any food in and of itself, in a reasonable portion, as part of a varied diet, does not make you fat…you can also gain weight if you ate 3500 calories of oranges a day, or 3500 calories of broccoli a day…granted, the natural fiber and water in healthier foods is going to prevent someone from doing that before they become completely full, but the point is the same. We ate cake when we were kids… one piece, and then went out and had recess, and PE, and then played with kids on the block when we got home. I eat cake now…in a reasonable portion… still not fat.

  7. I've always been a skinny kid. Even when I was five years old, I was eating chicken with marsala sauce and artichokes in restaurants while all the other kids were eating chicken nuggets and other kid food. My parents fed me vegetables all the time during my childhood and as a result I love them. It just doesn't seem too difficult to get kids to eat healthy, as long as the parents do their duty.

    That being said, I noticed you had the pasta yesterday, and it got me thinking. How much would it cost to grind or dice some vegetables, like broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, etc. and put them in the sauce? The consistency and taste of the tomato sauce would disguise the taste of the vegetables and the kids would be getting some nutrition.

  8. Agreed about the kids peeling oranges – either they don't have the motor skills or don't know how. How much fun was it to stick a quarter of an orange in your mouth and make a big orange "smile"?
    The same with other fruit – there are parts that you "don't eat" apple core, peach pit, etc. If a child has never eaten a whole apple before how would they know?

  9. I must say the food does even appear to be looking better. What is concerning with the fruit is the labor and time that it takes to peel an orange, hence the reason the kids throw it out. They probably like them but realize they only have 'x' amount of time to eat, so they choose the easier items to eat.
    Speed is still being prescribed as an aide in losing weight. Shocking, isn't it? It's a testament to what's important in our culture, being small. It's so dangerous, speeds your heart rate, it's just not natural to do this to your body. Trust me, I don't judge anyone that takes speed, it's just concerning. I'm more concerned with the symptoms of our culture and what it's doing to the next generation.

  10. I have a kid who brings an apple with him to school everyday for lunch…and never eats it!! He claims never to have bitten into a whole apple, ever, and can't figure out why Mom sends one in his lunch box every blessed day. My yearlong challenge has been to get that apple in his mouth – imagine never having had the satisfaction of a crisp Granny Smith or a delicate Fuji??!!!

  11. Frank Bruni (former NY Times food critic) writes about taking amphetamines to lose weight in his recent book "Born Round". It's a good read.

  12. @Tara…That is crazy!! Would he eat it if it were cut into slices? It is amazing that kids don't know "how" to eat things. We had Student Days at the Renaissance Festival this week and you should have seen some of the kids trying to navigate the turkey legs, it was quite humorous and one little girl was licking her's like an ice cream cone. I also saw more than one kid who opted for something else when they found out the turkey legs were on the bone. I don't' get being sweemish about bones in meat but then, I'm a true blue carnivore!

  13. I was shopping in Target's food section one day, and there was a girl riding in the cart seat, so you know she was young – probably 4 at most, asking how much fat and how many calories were in each item the mother picked up.


  14. I don't think cake is bad. Actually I just ate a slice of chocolate cake. Not joking! But how often do I eat cake? A couple times a year? And the little girl that told me "cake has fat in it" — I'm sure she doesn't get cake once a week.

    I'm surprised I got more comments about the fat in cake than the fact my mother took *speed*!! I thought that was the most controversial thing in this post!

  15. Maybe as the better weather has come, they have decided on more fresh fruit? During the winter/fall fruit usually isnt very good since it isn't in season….

    That burger makes me rather sad X_X

  16. The whole speed thing makes me think of the old women from "Requiem for a Dream." Not good at all.

  17. The fact that kids throw the fruit/vegetables away doesn't surprise me at all. When I was in school (even thru graduating high school in 2005) any vegetables/fruit given by a parent or given out by the school is automatically thrown away. No thinking even goes into it.

    So the schools can supply all the fresh fruit and vegetables everyone wants…

    I think there was an old proverb that said: "You can lead a kid to fruit/vegetables…but you can't make them eat." 🙂

  18. Mrs. Q.
    It would be my guess that your "Nutrition" Department's contract with its vendor has a clause about price structuring regarding "seasonal fruits." Since the weather is warming and oranges are coming into season and their price dropping, you can probably expect to see them more often.


  19. Sometimes I wonder if kids even understand "fat" and "sugar" — It's almost like caring about fat, sugar and calories is a loss of innocence.

    Also—love the idea of this blog!

  20. @Anonymous 9:38PM–Oranges (and most citrus fruit) are actually seasonal in the winter, and apples are seasonal in the fall. The American versions of these fruits are available all year long, because of various storage methods, but these fruits aren't really seasonal. The seasonal fruit we will start to be seeing now or soon is peaches, apricots, plums, etc. While these are shipped from South America, mainly Chile, during our winter, I have never found the Chilean fruit available here in the winter to be anywhere near as tasty as the local (US) summer fruit, when available.

  21. I loved making orange smiles when I was little at school!!!! I don't think I would have ate oranges at school if I had to peel them.

  22. That cheese. Oh my god.It looks like a monster slowing attacking the burger.

  23. Kids really do take these comments to heart – I can remember comments my dad made about celebrities ten years ago (For example, one about a teen Kelly Osbourne,who was my preteen self's idol, looking rather chubby)… Anyway, fast forward a few years to when I was 17 and I developed anorexia, nearly died in the hospital and now at 19, I still struggle with it.

    When I was in my junior year, I brought an apple to lunch at school. That was it.

  24. I wonder if they could get tangerines or clementines instead of oranges. In the grocery stores where I live, clementines are actually cheaper than oranges right now and they are very easy to peel; my 5 yr old easily peels them, but he would never be able to do an orange without help, his fine motor skills are not that great. They are also smaller and seedless as well and break apart easily, so it would be easier for your kids to eat them in the limited amount of time that they have. My kid takes about 10 seconds to wolf one down after peeling.

    So sad for the kid mentioned by Tara at 8:07. If he's never bitten into a whole apple, what makes him think he doesn't like it? You would think that curiosity would make him want to try it and then after a few bites he would realize what he's been missing all along! I don't get school-aged kids who don't know "how" to eat an apple. Just bite into it, it's that simple! My kid has been eating them since before he even had all his teeth and he would eat them skin and all down to the core.

  25. Really cool blog and an interesting approach to lunch. I worked as a chef for 14 years and I like the individually wrapped portions. It is a very cool idea whose time has come.
    I like the look and feel of your blog as wlel. I am working on two blogs of my own and would love some input from others. Please if you have time, check out my blogs at An Alternate Truth and Friendly Herb Gardening Help and offer some comments or feedback. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Keep up the good work!


  26. Every time I read this blog, I get a craving for elementary-school hamburgers. Yes, you had to use a lot of ketchup to eat them, but they were so tasty that way.

  27. Mrs. Q- the food you eat is carb-laden… do you not worry?Lower carb meals! That is how you lose unwanted weight! Lay off the bread basket, pasta, sugar…. its not that hard to figure out. My kids will never be overweight because they have the lifestyle already.

  28. I was never fat, if that is what you want to call it, and most likely never will be. I have been under weight my whole life. I was the kid that got teased for being so skinny. My mom would tell me to ignore then, because one day they are going to wish they were as skinny as me. So from a very young age I was taught the lessons of people who are fat and those who are skinny. Which side of the line are you going to be on?

    I am now 20 years old, and as I look in the mirror I still think wow I am skinny, and it does not matter what I eat or how often I exercise, I am still skinny. Then I stop myself. Why on earth does it matter whether or not that I am skinny or fat? I mean I know what you shouldnt be overweight for health reasons, but why do we label ourselves and others? From a very young age, we begin to lable ourselves and others. Why do we and society do this to ourselves? It only brings us down, no matter what side of the line we are on. You can never be skinny enough, you are always too fat. Why cant we just be happy with who we are?

    I now only have one mirror in the appartment that I am living in. Yes only one! I use it to put on a bit of makeup in the morning or to make sure my hair isnt sticking out in all directions before I leave in the morning. When I move back home, I know I will move into my room that is filled with mirrors, my closet doors are full body mirrors, my dresser has a large mirror, and I have another mirror in my bathroom. I will have to fight the urge to look in the mirrors and label myself. It is something that I plan to work on and pass on to others. Be happy with who you are, and if you must work on your appearences, start with taking the mirrors down and work on frequent exercise, healthy eating habbits, writing a journal to help you see your progress, and only step on that dreaded scale at the beging of your journey and at the end.

    Be happy with who you are and what you are going to become. Dont label anyone, especially yourself!

  29. Yeah, still struggling with the eating disorder that I developed in middle school. I go to group therapy for it now in an IOP setting, and we were talking yesterday about "normal eating" and how hard it is to eat 'normally' when you look around and it seems like everyone else is saying, "Oh, I shouldn't eat that because I'll get fat," or, "I'm eating a salad for lunch because I'm being good today." With an eating disorder, your view of food gets so twisted, but when you're in recovery you start to see how twisted everyone else's view of food is, too.

  30. All my life I was always the fat one between me and my sister. I graduated high school at 5 feet and 100 pounds, so I know I was never actually fat- and my mother never told me I was fat, she would just tell me "I needed to tone up" it was just that my sister was an impossibly tiny competitive gymnast so what chance did I have to be smaller?

    In middle school I remember thinking speed would be a good solution. Speed had great positive press- lots of energy, get skinny quick. It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned it was the same thing as meth. Meth has very negative press- awful ugly teeth, crazy panic attacks, blowing up your own garage. I would NEVER take meth. Thankfully I never took speed (or any other drug)- but man, it seemed like it could be an easy answer.

  31. I really wish as a culture we could move towards looking at food for nutrition – vitamins, nutrients etc not fat, calories and carbs (yes I know calories are technically units of energy, but not in the minds of most people)

    We need to focus on being healthy! Eating right and exercising to be healthy, and feel good. Not to be in a certain clothing size, or a certain number on the scale.

    Yes obesity is a terrible problem, but not for the weight itself – for the health problems it causes. Same with being underweight and the health problems that causes. But there are still many people that look a "normal" size that still don't eat enough nutritious foods and have health problems because of it.

    ….And Mrs. Q. About your mom taking speed. Sadly I think it gets less of a reaction because of all the crazy things people have done to lose weight. I remember my mom doing that cabbage soup diet once or twice a year. Only having weight loss shakes during the day at one point. Taking diet pills at one point. Seems crazy in hindsight, but at the time it was just another "magic pill" to solve our problems (by giving us more problems.)

  32. Oh my, I was considered a fat kid growing up. I can go on and on about ow horrible it made me feel about myself image but then again it will only bring up bad memories. Lets just say that I was raised pretty much on cheap processed foods. Also genetics doesn't help. It wasn't my mom who told me I was fat it was the mean horrible children that would tease you if you looked different.

  33. It is wonderful to see fresh fruit on the tray. Still, an orange is prohibitive to most kids, especially if there is little time to eat.

    An easy solution would be to serve orange slices or wedges, pre-cut by the serving staff and placed in a little papaer cup or on waxed paper sheet.

    It can't be that much labor and material cost to entice the kids to eat oranges. Can it?

  34. It's always really, really sad to hear how early kids — particularly girls — start hating themselves.

    It's also not accepted to teach kids the truth — that fat isn't always unhealthy, and isn't always bad. Some people can eat nothing but junk and remain quite skinny, but what you eat affects your health. Some people eat extremely healthy meals and are fat. That's fine. But our culture doesn't allow for that idea.

  35. I forget where I saw it but there was a study where "Americans" were shown images of food… when they saw cake they responded with things like "guilt", "fat" and "ashamed" but when shown to "French" people the responses were more like "celebration", "indulgence", "treat." Man are we warped. I know my relationship to food isn't "normal" but I work very hard to come to terms with it.. sorry for all the " "'s!!

  36. I would have been blown away too if my mom told me she was given speed by her doctor at the behest of her mother. It is a really dangerous thing they used to do – that's what got poor Judy Garland hooked on drugs: her studio gave her "vitamin" shots to control her weight, which were actually speed. Your mom is really lucky to have escaped that kind of damage.

  37. I agree the fresh fruit is a seasonal issue. As fresh fruits and vegetables come into season, they'll be more readily available at much lower wholesale prices for bulk purchasers such as school food companies. When an orange is cheaper than a plastic fruit cup, you bet that's what the kids will get!

    But I also agree with the comments that peeling an orange is a non-trivial task in a limited lunchtime window. I almost never eat fresh citrus because it's messy and has to be peeled.

  38. I didn't think that was an orange D:
    Reading this blog makes me feel so sad.. I hate to think of children eating such bad food every day. 🙁

  39. The lunch looks less than appealing. After watching Food Inc, Fathead and a few others.. my eating habits have changed drastically.

    *It breaks my heart that little girl is already developing food issues…:(

    Re: an annonymous comment…3500 calories of Broccoli? Yeesh:)

  40. I think you're not getting a lot of comments about your mom taking speed partly because I'm sure it's more shocking and controversial to you, her daughter, to find out that she was on that type of drug (which wasn't that uncommon, at least for recreational use, in–I'm guessing–the '60s or '70s when your mom was on it). But also partly because it's not really news that people take speed to lose weight (or that taking speed for recreational reasons can cause you to lose weight). I mean, that's what all those diet pills are, after all.

    On the subject of people not knowing what they're talking about when it comes to food (i.e. "cake makes you fat!"), a friend of mine who works at the local university told me he overheard a student turn down a cookie because "they're made with milk and I'm a vegan." Now, my personal opinion on vegans aside, how sad is it that this girl is living this lifestyle and doesn't even know what she should or shouldn't be eating and why? How many cookie recipes do you know of that have milk in them? There are some, sure, but it's not typical (and I'm just guessing the cookie offered was your run of the mill chocolate chip cookie, which don't typically have milk in them). It did mostly likely have eggs, however, which would be reason enough for a vegan to reject it. But just the fact that she was pretty much clueless about why she shouldn't be eating cookies, according to her ridiculous diet, is pretty sad.

  41. Anonymous @ 2:58: While cookie recipes may or may not have actual liquid milk in them, most have butter, which is most definitely not vegan. And chocolate chip cookies are about the worst example you could give, because the chips themselves are very likely to contain milk, even if they are not milk chocolate chips. I keep kosher, and I know that it's actually pretty hard to find chocolate chips that are certified to be non-dairy .

    I wouldn't put much stock in what a friend overheard; unless he was part of the conversation himself, how could he possibly evaluate what the vegan student really meant. Maybe she just meant that there were likely to be milk PRODUCTS in the cookie, i.e. the butter, the chips, whatever.

    Of course, your classification of this woman's diet as "ridiculous" pretty much explains why you feel free to simply assume she is "clueless." I myself would not assume anyone willing to eat in such an extreme way is clueless; it is far harder to eat a vegan diet than to just eat whatever you want, and the fact that she has chosen to do so pretty much says she has made some sort of conscious decision. What would YOUR explanation be of why she would choose to live such a lifestyle, especially if she didn't understand what it meant?

  42. it is so sad how easily people start assigning values and emotions to food. all food is actually nuetral, especially if eaten in moderation.
    like kayla above, i've always been underweight but really wanted to be average instead. i've accepted it now, but i do get tired of other people acting jealous when i eat sweets (which isn't a constant occurence.)
    to anonymous above me at 2:58, the student might have been referring to the chocolate chips, if they were milk chocolate chips. if there was no milk chocolate evident, then i have no idea to what she was referring. as a vegetarian and semi-vegan, i tend to pass on anything i can't identify.

  43. I was told i was fat at the tender age of 9, by the kids i went to school with, my neighbors and "friends" (my first nick name was Jelly Role!) In highschool i became anorexic/hypoglycemic, partly because of the school cafeteria…we had a choice of Hot meal, Pizza and fries, salad bar, or crackers and peanutbutter out of vending machines…I chose Vending machines and only ever ate half! In hindsight I NEVER ate the hot meal, so i can't report on what was given to us there, but Elementary in Texas wasn't as bad as what Mrs Q is showing, it was homemade if a little over cooked. My parents always expected me to eat like an adult, supreme pizzas and Cheeseburgers with all the topppings and Hot veggies as early as I can remember. I am not a picky eater but now i lean toward vegetarianism which is strange in the area of Oklahoma I live in!

    I am feeling a lot of compassion for you Mrs Q and the Fruit Stand Teacher!
    Keep going Mrs Q and all the other teachers and parents trying to make a change! I think you are hitting the right notes!

  44. I must give you props for having so much truth yet simplicity in what you said. I hadn't noticed it much growing up, but nowadays, I hear children reiterating when adults say this and that are fattening. Some common misconceptions can become ultimatums to a child's mind. I have seen little girls refuse to eat because they believe the foods are "making them fat" even though the children are obviously underweight. Child obesity is a problem, but it seems that discouraging it in the wrong mindset also perpetuates unhealthy eating behaviors.

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