Flavoured Milk for Kids? Are You Kidding Me?

Every year I go to the Dairy Farmer’s Symposium and I always look forward to it.  It’s a chance to re-connect with ol’ nutrition buddies from McGill and other dietitians I’ve met over the years.  It’s also free and I get points for continuing education.

The same thing happens every year.  I get there and I see my friends, we catch up and all is good.  Then the conference starts and the first speaker seems interesting. Then the next speaker starts and I start to feel uncomfortable.  Then I remember this expensive symposium is payed for in its entirety by the Dairy Farmers of Canada.  The whole point of this conference is to get dieticians across Canada recommending dairy products left, right and centre to every patient, client, friend, family member and person they come in contact with.

They do this by finding speakers who present their research with a strong bias towards dairy.  Now do not get me wrong, I am not bashing milk.  Milk has merit and we will get to that in an upcoming blog.  Today, I take serious issue when the information presented is trying to convince me to recommend flavoured milk to kids.  The American speaker presented research indicating that removing flavoured milk from some USA schools actually reduces essential nutrients.  Apparently, there is no other way to provide these essential nutrients such as  calcium, vitamin D and potassium other than through flavoured milk.  I think this is a joke. My children go to the English Montreal School Board and are provided with regular white milk 3 to 5 times a week. Never have these children been given flavoured milk at school.

Flavoured milk has its place and I do recommend it in certain situations.  But the message that was presented today was that flavoured milk is nutritious.  Flavoured milk is milk with ADDED sugar. Herein lies the problem.  As a nation, we over consume sugar.  Everyone, including myself eats too much sugar.  It is in everything,  cereals, condiments, drinks, grain products, added to coffee, candy, chocolate and many other foods.  Sugar is the enemy. It leads to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. We need to teach our children to moderate their intake of added sugars.  We need to moderate our own intake.

Instead of criticizing American schools for removing flavoured milk, why not provide serious education to the children of these schools along with their families on proper nutrition.  If regular education is part of the system perhaps the children will actually eat the foods that would provide them with the nutrients they need. Didn’t Jamie Oliver try this?  Wasn’t it effective?

The bottom line is this, if parents think that flavoured milk is nutritious then they will give it to their children.  Kids will never have the opportunity to develop a taste for plain old white milk.  As they grow, kids will always need added sugar in their milk.

Nutrition Confessions

I often take for granted that most people know about healthy
eating.  It is just second nature to me
and I am always shocked when I encounter someone who really has no clue.  I don’t know why I am so shocked.  I live with Richard Kirsch. When we first
started dating, I was just finishing nutrition school.  I remember we went out for lunch and he was
going to order a hot chicken sandwich (you know what I am talking about, slices
of chicken in between white bread covered in canned peas and a ton of
gravy).  I was appalled and shocked. He
said “What?  It’s healthy! It’s got
chicken, vegetables and bread!”  He truly
wasn’t joking.  He thought he made a
healthy choice.  I know there many people
out there like him who don’t have the luxury (or curse) of living with a
dietitian.  Here are some thoughts I had
about some basic nutrition I take for granted. 

I would naturally assume if one were to purchase ground beef
one would buy extra lean.  I would assume
wrong.  There are many people out there
who don’t know that you can buy meat containing different amounts of fat.  Beef fat is essentially saturated fat which
should be eaten in limited quantities (~10% of your daily intake).  It makes sense to buy the extra lean
type.  The same holds true for cuts of
beef the more marbled, the more fat.  In
that case, choose cuts that have the least amount of marbling.  With poultry try not to eat the skin and
white meat has less saturated fat than dark meat.  Also, eat fish at least 2 times a week if not
more.  If you are concerned about mercury
check Health
advice pertaining to fish

I always think that most people know about limiting their
intake of trans fat but the truth is it’s very confusing.  If the ingredients say shortening,
hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or the fat the grams don’t add up then
there is trans fat in the product and it is best to be avoided. 

People ask me all the time if honey or maple syrup or sugar
cane is better than sugar.  A sugar is a
sugar is a sugar.  Use whatever you love
but use it wisely.  Don’t dump 10
teaspoons of brown sugar into your coffee because you think it is better than
white sugar.

Why don’t people know already that too much juice equal too
many calories?  Why do I think that
people should know this?  Too much cola
equals too many calories. Too much diet beverages (that are artificially
sweetened) increase sugar cravings. Too much iced tea (Richard!!!!) equals too
many calories.   Stick with water, herbal
teas, skim milk, even coffee (not more than 4 a day max).  Have the other drinks occasionally.

Now let’s talk about white foods.  By that I mean white bread (think Wonder),
white pasta, white rice (that cooks in 5 minutes), white potatoes and white
flour!  These foods are devoid of any
major nutrients and fibre.  Think of these
foods like a decadent dessert, as a once in a while sort of thing.  Imagine going to Gibby’s and enjoying a hot
white bun with butter before dinner. 
Nobody goes to Gibby’s often so when you do go enjoy that bread. 

April 2010 044
Finally, I don’t know where I get off thinking that everyone
knows how to cook something.  Unfortunately
for me, Richard doesn’t know how to cook. What’s worse is he thinks he
does.  That’s a pretty bad
combination.  At least, a person that doesn’t
know how to cook and admits it might be open to suggestions and help.  The poor guy who thinks preparing KD is
gourmet really is in trouble.  I was
about to add that his kids would be in trouble too if the wife took an extended
vacation but it occurred to me that the kids would probably love to eat KD for
every meal.