New summer food pyramid for busy parents

There are a lot of things that make the summer different. Warmer weather, higher temperatures, and of course, empty schools. And empty schools mean one thing: copious amounts of children at their homes, causing chaos and confusion in their mother’s lives.
Normally I try semi-hard to feed my children semi-healthy foods. There’s always a fruit or veggie around, but don’t hate me because we eat white bread and rice.
During the school year there is routine. Wake up, eat cereal. Pack lunches, eat balanced meal. Nothing else to do in the winter but cook a flavorful and nutritious meal for dinner. There are homemade cookies and breads and popcorn popped on the stove all the time.
But in the summer, there is fun to be had, lawns to be mowed, and creeks to be played in. And for me, all of this trumps the food pyramid, unless the food pyramid is something we build out on the back deck or jump off of at the park. We are constantly on the go and out the door and that means less planning for mealtimes and well-organized trips to the grocery store.
Mostly I feel quite guilty about it all, not feeding my children whole grains and organic produce all the time, because I know deep down that is what is best for their little growing bodies. Regrettably, deep down is covered up by what’s on top, and what’s on top are lovely little excuses to get me through my day.
So I offer the following to anyone else that needs a little pick-me-up when it comes to feeding the family, or else has a friend stuffing brown rice spinach bundles down their kid’s throat…
Wondering how to pack in good nutrition during the crazy, non-lazy days of summer frantic fun? Let’s start at the bottom of that food pyramid:
Breads, Rice, Grains, Pasta: This is the easiest of all of the food categories to obtain for the busy mom. Who hasn’t thrown a granola bar in the back seat on a morning drive to the zoo? The foods in the group have a common base of flour, which is exactly the number one ingredient in donuts. Voila.
Fruits and Vegetables: According to the old food pyramid, one should have 3-5 serving of vegetables a day. This is easily achieved by a medium-sized french fry. And while some may argue that potatoes aren’t really vegetables, I ask, is it a mineral? An animal? Yeah. I thought not.
Fruits are equally easy to achieve. The 2-4 servings come without knowing it when that bar you tossed in the backseat has a fruit filling, the kid washes it down with apple juice, and then eats some fruit snacks at the zoo.
Milk, Yogurt, and Cheese: Hellllo? Ice cream? Macaroni and Cheese? Milkshakes? Donuts with cream filling? This one doesn’t even deserve an explanation.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Nuts: Kids love protein. They need it to grow and run and be strong. Why not feed them the beef hot dogs, the chicken nuggets, and the fish sticks their bodies are asking for? Don’t forget that cookies are usually made containing eggs, and that peanut butter and jelly does contain the word “nut.” And probably a little fruit as well, not that I’m calling it a perfect food, but well, throw in the bread and it just about is.
Fats, Oils, and Sweets: I know this may be a bit difficult, but we are told to use these sparingly. Basically, eat candy, but not too much. Chocolate melts in the summer heat anyway.
I leave parents with one final thought: A cookie can be a health food as long as it is not broken up into little bits, leaving the cookie intact and making it a delicious “whole” grain.
Now go out and play.


Loren said…
Hi Karrie, Great summer pic of your kids. I struggle with my kids' meals being healthy. They (the government)changed that food pyramid since we were kids. Personally, I like the old one better, because there was a little spot on the top for junk. This whole different food pyramid has made Cookie Monster think he has to eat carrots. Something is wrong with that picture. :)

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