I couldn’t believe my shopping cart, but I didn’t want to embarrass my son. In it were two 12 packs of Coke and Sprite, potato chips, goldfish, oreos, cupcakes and the like. It was a SAD grocery cart–that is the acronym for Standard American Diet–and it was mine. I had offered to host dinner for the lacrosse team and my son was quite specific about what we could serve. And so, I complied.
I felt sick about serving less than nutritious food to the kids. In fact, one teammate’s dad, a good friend, stopped in beforehand to bust my chops; he had told his son I was most likely serving gluten-free pasta and fruit to the kids. I toured him around the kitchen filled with artificial ingredients to assure him the boys would be delighted. But still, I didn’t feel good about it.
The evening before the lacrosse dinner, on Saturday night, my husband and I went to the Kendall Square Cinema’s showing of “Fed Up,” a documentary-style movie that will forever change how you view sugar (I highly recommend it!). Comparing sugar to cocaine in the way it lights up the brain, and implicating it in various chronic and widespread diseases, the movie gave me hope that awareness levels might be raised, and people might change the way they make food choices. The selfie movies made by teens struggling with obesity was simply heartbreaking.
On the way out the door to the movies, we said good-bye to our two teenagers. The 17-year-old was eying the case of Coke and asked if he could have one. Sure, we said, and drove off to see the movie. When we got home, my husband went to the cabinets and measured out eleven teaspoons of sugar in a bowl and put a Coke can right next to it. When we reconnoitered with the boys, they quizzically looked at the can and sugar (eleven teaspoons is a lot of sugar). He informed them that each can had that sugar equivalent. There was dead silence. It got through.
I noticed teammates going for Coke the night of the party, but our son came in and poured himself a glass of water. Coincidence?
It takes a lot of hard work and, yes, even courage to go against the grain when it comes to making healthy choices. Choosing foods that are going to nourish our families shouldn’t conflict with the culture, but most of the time it does (especially if you have children). Certainly making healthy food means doing more cooking, but in the end, isn’t it worth it?