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The Renegade Lunch Lady (Part 2 of 2)

Robyn Openshaw - Mar 28, 2010 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

The “Renegade Lunch Lady” Chef Ann Cooper went to Washington, D.C. to investigate our first lady’s agenda. She ripped a hole in Michelle Obama’s “feel-good” childhood-obesity legislation, that has no funding and no policy “teeth.” I figured as much. Great platform, Mrs. Obama. Let’s make it reach to families and schools:

Let’s get vending machines out of the schools even if they create revenues (at the expense of our children’s health). Let’s get processed food out of school lunches. Let’s not cut funding and class time for physical education. Let’s educate people about real nutrition, not curriculum funded by big businesses like meat and dairy and processed food conglomerates.

Those are the things we need, not feel-good irrelevancies like providing milk and juice as options, or replacing potato chips with low-fat potato chips, or frying the french fries in a different oil. (Someone here in Utah, where nutrition initiatives have always failed in our legislature, called me this year to ask if I’d get behind a school-lunch initiative that was baby pablum like that.)

Chef Ann Cooper’s sites are here:

Enjoy her sites–I love this lady and her enthusiastic, tireless mission. She said re-training long-time lunch ladies, towards better nutrition, is one of her most difficult tasks. We are certainly, the vast majority of us, deeply and emotionally entrenched and invested in the destructive food habits of our generation.

I am personally not untouched by the way our culture is sucking our kids into a no-win situation where more than half our kids finish junior high school overweight. Since my divorce 18 months ago, despite the fact that I have NEVER purchased school lunch for any of my children, one of my own children has become overweight. I do not provide junk food in my home, and serve only whole plant foods. But just eating in her father’s home some of the time, 1 of my 4 children has gained significant weight.

It is an issue that is very difficult to discuss with a child. Any suggestions are welcome.

But one study found that being overweight is a bigger life stressor for a child than having cancer is. Watching my own daughter, I cannot overestimate the social impact on her own life. I am doing all I can do, including begging her father to make efforts on his side, but the good news is that she has the experience and knowledge to make a change in her choices, when she decides the physical/social/emotional cost is too high.

We do more than physical harm to children allowing them to become overweight. The whole culture must be educated and retrained back to the basics our ancestors took for granted.

If more and more people support whole, locally grown, organic, and raw plant foods, we will turn the health care debacle around. Watch this blog this week for my thoughts on ObamaCare.

Posted in: Relationships, Whole Food

11 thoughts on “The Renegade Lunch Lady (Part 2 of 2)”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I, too, would love thoughts on approaching a child about weight issues. Especially when I can see it is from making poor food choices!

    You are a brave lady to address ObamaCare!

  2. I look forward to reading your comments on ObamaCare!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have been having an issue with the whole school lunch thing lately. My daughter will be having lunch at school next year and I plan on sending her with a lunch. I do appreciate the fact of making schools more aware and will definitely look at these websites.

    Weight issue for kids— I see it as their choice. She has been provided with knowledge and choices. I think her learning at her own pace and on her own will make all the difference in the word. No experience here just my opinion looking back at my life as a kid.

  4. Lovely (sad) post!

    I was a La Leche League Mom during the 70s, & have tried to live by our food motto for 40 years: “eat a wide variety of food in as close to its natural state as possible!” (I’d add: local, in season, & Gluten free’ these days!)

    ‘Open Door to Health’ was our food guide. We got raw milk straight from the dairy, gardened & got food from the co-op – junk food wasn’t available, deserts were rare (growing up, I’d put sugar on my frosted flakes! For some reason, wasn’t overweight, but had lots of cavities)

    I, too, wish the childhood obesity legislation had more oomph! Clean up the food line, & keep funding Phys Fit for Life programs! Grades go up when kids have opportunity to exercise & take music lessons!

    A book you might find helpful for your daughter – ‘Diabetsity’ by Endrocrinologist Francine Ratner Kaufman! She helped get sodas out of the vending machines in Bay Area schools, & helps many diabetic (& overweight) children manage their disease, which is a major risk for overweight children & adults. She comments that the kids she works with do better than many adults, & has begun group sessions, so they can work together on their issues. Education, exercise, & good food choices are at the heart of her approach.

    In the Amazon reviews, a former Patient of Dr Kaufman writes: “She has tirelessly dedicated her life to advocating on behalf of patients with diabetes, making sure they have the best medical treatment available, researching possible cures, and trying to prevent the diabesity epidemic.”

    Last summer my dau’s family & I went Gluten Free, & I lost ~ 15# since then 🙂 & am back to my ‘normal’ weight – yea!!

    Issues with gluten may be the reason some folks fare so well on the low carb diets – they’re not being poisoned by the wheat, rye & barley for awhile! I shifted to using coconut oil & milk last year as well – & make coconut kefir, which I love, & which helped me loose those extra pounds (plus dropping most soy)

    I take movement classes several times a week – I don’t know if your daughter is involved in any movement based activities, but that might help (maybe find something you can do together? Or something her friends are involved in?? My granddaughters take dance classes, & love coming to free form dance sessions with me!)

    Good luck, & keep us posted 🙂

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      My daughter plays on a state-level soccer team. While she gets plenty of movement, the FOOD angle is 80% of the battle with weight issues, while exercise is 20% of it. Exercise is absolutely critical for a healthy heart and a fit body–but you can work out like a madwoman and if you eat the SAD, you’ll still be fat.

      Thanks for the book tip. The author sounds like she should be a friend of mine.

  5. I feel for your daughter. I am sure she knows the right choices to make and will figure it out with your help. That would be so hard to have her be somewhere else where she is not encouraged to eat healthy. I wish her luck.. and you. That would be a difficult situation. I wish someone would have come to me when I was younger and chubby and said “The reason you are chubby is because of the food you eat. Let me show you a better way.” Then it would have been my choice. It’s terrible that kids have to think about these things. It really is so awful. You are such a good mom. I am sorry she isn’t getting the support elsewhere.

    I am wondering your thoughts on gluten. Why so much gluten-free these days? Quality of wheat?

    1. Robyn Openshaw says:

      “Quality of wheat”–kind of. My theory is that so much cross-hybridization, plus the modern diet damaging people’s digestive tracts, has led to gluten intolerance.

      I agree with another blogger here that gluten intolerance and other food sensitivities are likely to continue to skyrocket until we stop eating not just processed foods, but also highly hybridized and genetically modified foods.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I just started watching a new show, tyler’s food revolution… about trying to change school lunches and eating habits in a small town in WV. prety mainstream, but I like that it raises the issue!

  7. My sister and I now live an alkaline lifestyle which has brought my weight back to my normal body weight and my sister is 1/2 way there. We are vegan and eat only a little fish and are very strict with our diets consuming close to 70% raw everyday. Her weight will also return to her normal body weight but her journey is stalled because to maintain an alkaline state on a regular basis you need to also manage the acid production caused by your life–stress that is. Perhaps your daughter has a stress level that is not recognized, caused by her perspective on the world; parents who are living separately, who knows what really stresses her. The food is one key part but the stress can seriously compound the situation causing weight gain which is what happens when your body is overly acidic, a protective mechanism. When my sister manages her stress well, she sheds a few more pounds with a good diet all the time so we’ve been able to actually see the results. Hope this perspective helps.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robyn,

    I completely sympathize with you and your daughter. I grow up myself being obese with no help from my family or anyone. They wouldn’t even stop buying all the processed food and just kept it in the house. I have been battling my weight my whole life and still do. Although, thanks to you, i’m much smarter & educated in good food choices. Now i just have to stick with those good choices and not fall back into old habits which I find myself doing. I think this will be a never ending battle for me because there is so much baggage attached to it.

    My you youngest daughter who is now 22, when she was 8yrs old gained 20 lbs in a year. The drs. nurse practitioner was very concerned, as I was, I started to discuss food choices and what would happen to her if she continued on this track. My daughter, thank goodness, was very receptive to the nurse and we continued the discussion in the car and went directly to the supermarket where I taught her how to read labels and to let her with my guidance make healthier choices for her snacks & other foods. It was a real bonding lesson that she still uses today. I know that this doesn’t help you because your daughter grew up with all of this wonderful knowledge. But like you said, when she is tired of eating the bad food and she is ready to make changes in her life then it will happen. You can’t force someone to do something they aren’t ready to do. Your daughter maybe just experimenting with all this bad food to see what effects it will have on her. I pray for her and you that she will become enlightened soon & reverse the bad decisions to her good ones once again.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robin, that’s a hard situation with your daughter. My parents divorced when I was 6 and I gained enough weight to look “plump”.

    My mom has always been a health conscious person and like you kept only good choices around. However, even though I didn’t go and stay at my dad’s I still managed to eat too much and “closet” eat bad foods when no one was looking.

    My parents divorce compiled with other issues in my childhood let to a lifetime of weight battles.

    I just finished reading Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth and feel for the first time maybe I understand it all … here’s hoping this has shed some light on it.

    I’m not saying this is your daughter’s issue but maybe her bad choices go beyond just bad choices … maybe there is an emotional factor at play here. If we know what we should be eating then the question is why can’t we eat right? I no longer believe it’s just a matter of will power.

    Best wishes. I wish I could convey to your daughter how much of her life will be less enjoyable do to weight issues. I sure wish I had spent all my days healthy and fit.

    I had a few years where I followed Dr. Harvey Diamond’s Fit for Life program and was the healthiest ever. I am now finding my way back to eating a healthy diet and trying to “love” myself enough to do that for me. 🙂

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