Share of stomach

In 2005 food consumption was up 16% since 1970. I believe food consumption should be flat meaning that one person eats the same amount over time. If anything, food consumption goes down very slightly as you get beyond middle age and your caloric requirements decrease.

The average person (not a growing child) does not normally eat more one day than the next unless it’s a special occasion (birthday party, the holidays, the superbowl, etc). I’m guilty of eating too much cake at birthday parties too. But in general, the only way to consume more would be to enlarge your stomach (pretty hard to do unless you gain weight).

The food companies know they are battling it out for their “share of stomach.” They compete with fast food restaurants and other establishments to get a part of your daily food intake. They know it’s finite (you can only eat so much). All food companies use advertising to increase demand of their products. If you see a billboard for fries and you are hungry, you will be more likely to “splurge” and go through a drive-thru for fries…and then you might as well get that coke too. Food companies will deny it, but they basically have an incentive to make you fat.

School food companies don’t have an incentive to make you eat more since that doesn’t increase their bottom line. From what I can tell, school food companies just want to feed school children and stay within nutritional guidelines and their limited budgets. School food companies aren’t making anywhere near the kind of money that regular food companies and fast food companies make. However, school food companies play right into the hands of the big food companies and fast food vendors by feeding kids processed foods.

If we could lessen the offering of processed foods (hot dogs, chicken nuggets, pizza), introduce salad bars in every school, continue to offer fresh fruit in place of cups, jello, bars, stop serving pizza or nachos every day, and stop conceptualizing “french fries” as  veggies, we’d be off to a great start. Then we could follow-up with nutrition education and recess for all. We can’t just pave the way from the schoolyard to the closest fast food joint. We’re doing children a disservice. Our life expectancy is falling. The time to act is now. We can’t afford to wait. Make a difference at your school.

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22 thoughts on “Share of stomach

  1. Not only are french fries considered a vegetable in the school lunch program, but so is ketchup.

  2. I was wondering if you have heard anyone (teachers/staff etc) at your school discussing your blog?

  3. What's sad is that the general pattern of eating (not so many veggies & fruits and lots of fried & sweet stuff) is not just prevalent in fast food and school lunches. My boyfriend recently brought an extra lunch home from the catering his work provided. The lunch was from a fairly nice french bakery/cafe in a nice area of Los Angeles. It consisted of a vegetarian sandwich, which looked suspiciously like an inside out pizza (bleached white bread, tomato "sauce" and large hunks of cheese), a bag of "gourmet" potato chips and a large chocolate chip cookie!

    Now that I've learned what I should be eating, I find myself frequently frustrated by the lack of vegetables and fruit served in restaurant meals unless you only order sides or salad (with some of the toppings on the side).

    I read someplace that in the U.S. there are enough calories produced for EVERY man, woman and child to eat nearly 4000 calories a day. That's disturbing on so many levels. That means we have enough food for everyone in terms of calories and in terms of calories, no one should go hungry. I'm not so sure when it comes to actual nutritional needs. It means tons of food is wasted. It means that our food system is almost dooming us to end up making incorrect choices because of the pressure to sell food with labels and return on Wall Street and whoever holds their stock. We live in a society where it's not unusual for people to buy things almost solely because of the packages, regardless of the contents. Items in identical packages can have vastly different nutrional profiles, while many things without nutrition information (fruits and veggies) are void of any packaging and nutrition information. We have lost the knowledge to not only understand what the correct foods do to our bodies and how much better we end up feeling, but also of identifying the foods. A spread of in season fruits and veggies can be beautiful in ways that generally aren't appreciated in the U.S. anymore.

  4. I wonder why the concept of keeping our youth healthy is so hard to understand? The school system SHOULD be willing to help out.

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  5. Actually, Sweet Virginia, I was recently disabused of the "ketchup is a vegetable" notion. It was considered back in the 80's when the Reagan administration slashed school lunch funding and the USDA was trying to cut corners. Due to the outcry and backlash, they pulled that option and it was never implemented. Ketchup does NOT count as a vegetable.

    I'm not a doctor or dietitian, but I think that while your stomach does not "grow" it does stretch and you can become accustomed to eating more. I think that is why when you're trying to lose weight by cutting calories (if you're already eating an unhealthy amount) you feel hungry all the time. Eventually eating less will feel normal, but this takes time, and many people don't want to go around hungry for that long.

  6. Ketchup is not considered a vegetable for the school lunch program. It's a misconception. The Reagan administration proposed it, so schools wouldn't have to serve an additional serving of fruits or vegetables and could save money. The proposal never made it into the regulations and the Reagan administration eventually cut school lunch funds, anyways.

  7. Thanks for sharing. I just was talking to my daughter yesterday, she & my son will start at our neighborhood school in the fall. She is almost 8 and has been watching the Jamie Oliver stuff and asked if I'd please make her food because she doesn't want to eat that stuff. Not a problem, as I had no intention on letting her eat the stuff offered, but I thought it odd that I've got an 8 year old with more common sense than an awful lot of adults. We also watched the WFAA segment the other night on packed lunches and she couldn't figure out why kids didn't have fruits & veggies in their lunches. I think my fall project might be trying to make changes at their school first. I know my two will eat OK, it's the other 698 kids.

  8. Pickles were offered as the other veggie option for hamburger day. The other veggie was fries. A serving of pickles?!

  9. This is the post that I've been waiting for! Radical, to the point, making a statement in the right direction for change. From body to table, including reform in schools (adding recess back) to changing food, to changing standards or guidelines in the food structure mandated by the Fed's. To allow tater tots and french fries as a vegetable is ludicrous.

    I think one piece of the puzzle that is missing is the issue of waste, ie all of the stuff that goes in the garbage, the styro-food containers, all the packaging.

    From your virtual voice to ground zero in D.C. We just need a place to start.

    Just like Sam Cooke said, "A Change is Gonna Come"

  10. My 12 year old perfers potatoes to all other "veggie." based on what she has learned AT SCHOOL, she believes, if she eats her roasted potato at dinner that she has fulfilled her veggie requirement at home. HA! While I still have not won the war, I win the battle every time I serve potatoes. We eat potatoes about once a week, but I always serve a real veggie aand fruit. Although she tries to smile her best I am such a lovely girl smile and point to her potatoes, I still inform her she must have a "real veggie" on her plate. The "food pyramid" is failing our kids, making them believe that potatoes are veggies and all bread is created equal. We just have to ensure we are reteaching them nutrition when we eat.

  11. You are so right Mrs. Q, the time to act is now. We are failing our children by not feeding them properly and allowing them to reach their full potential and live in great health. They need good food not just filler food so their tummies stop growling.

  12. I think your last paragraph sums it up pretty good! Less processed food and more fresh fruit. Why does that seem to be so difficult these days? I work in a school cafeteria and we seem to be moving in the right direction. We now offer fresh fruit 3-4 days a week. The other days are canned fruit like applesauce or diced peaches. I would like to see less processed items like the chicken nuggets and corn dogs. Unfortunately, those are the days that get more participation and so the management serves them more often.

    Thanks for doing what you're doing! I love following the blog!

  13. "From what I can tell, school food companies just want to feed school children and stay within nutritional guidelines and their limited budgets."

    I'd argue that the school food companies aren't even interested in feeding kids. They want to stay within the nutritional and budget constraints with the "food" they provide. I don't really think they care if the kids eat. If they did, they'd be more concerned with what the kids throw away and adjust the food they serve appropriately.

  14. You nailed it on the head. If the population is not growing, the only way to increase the food industry's bottom line is to get the population to eat more–thereby increasing our bottom, er, line.

    To Sweet Virginia above, that is just plain wrong. I know it's true, but it's wrong. Thanks for pointing it out.

  15. Kathleen, you are may right about the contracted food companies being concerned about finances above all else.

    If your school district has a food service program that is run by the school district (not an outside contractor), please support them. If you have questions, ask. If you can assist, please do, much as you would in classrooms, etc.

    Also, I'm interested to hear from elementary schools with salad bars – how long it takes for students to serve themselves, what types of items are offered? Do students take a balanced salad from the bar, or are there concerns with garnish-type items like croutons, crackers, and so on (if you offer those?).

    Any parent concerns about the self-service? We have a lot of concerns from parents about anything that is self service.

  16. When they're choosing the veggies, they should think COLOR: green, red, orange, etc. And not include brown/beige things (potatoes and their derivatives) as a vegetable. That way they can focus on real veggies like leafy greens, carrots, bell peppers, etc. Basically: salad. With oil and vinegar, not creamy fatty dressings.

  17. The problem is that school lunch regulations are bureaucratic and not scientific to a point. We are in an age where things shouldn't be broken into fruits, veggies, dairy, grain/whatever/whatever/whatever. It should be broken down into Vitamins a/b/c/d/e and certain acids and minerals. There should be roofs on calories and sodium and cholesterol levels and fat and carbs and protein. Would it be so hard to say: No chemical additives allowed to be used anyhwere in the process of the food's production? Bureacrats suck because they are run by a small group of people who have all of the money. It's the people who keep their names off of Forbe's wealthiest people lists that we need to worry about, they control everything and we will never know who they are.

  18. School food companies don't have an incentive to make you eat more, but you better believe they have an incentive to protect their bottom line and control costs. They are going to push the highest profit margin stuff, and for some reason I have a feeling that is probably the processed junk, and not the fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh stuff requires more turnover, more handling, etc.. They can't just throw it in a freezer somewhere and store it however long they need to – once they get it they have to sell it, immediately. Processed stuff is much more forgiving…

    Great post Mrs Q!

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