YOUNG VOICES: A healthy menu feeds physical, mental health

2014-03-10T00:00:00Z YOUNG VOICES: A healthy menu feeds physical, mental healthBy Wendy Banta-Long nwitimes.com
March 10, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Pizza? I think Italy. Pastries? France. How about rice? Now that’s China. Now what about hamburgers? America! Hot dogs, fries, chips? They all scream America.

And obesity.

When most people think “American," greasy fast food chains come to mind.

Despite that, America is a colorful soup with unique flavors and tastes. America is a proudly diverse country brimmed with vibrant civilians. There needs to be a change, starting with the youngest citizens in schools.

Ever since the Obama administration began, there has been a cutback on fried foods at school cafeterias. Sometimes, I miss the occasional cheese and fries side I would eat Fridays (with a healthier main lunch!), but the payoff has resulted in a healthier body.

However, I have heard many complaints and witnessed little change in schools toward the new food plan.

“No more cheap fries, hamburgers, or hot dogs? Fine, let’s throw in breaded chicken, churros and gray broccoli!” Don’t stop half-way. Statistics say organic, unsalted and fresh foods improve the physical and mental capabilities. Introducing healthier food choices such as fresh kale, pineapple, grilled chicken, whole-wheat pasta or even chocolate chip oatmeal cookies means a difference to a child’s well-being. This food may be more expensive and time consuming, but the result is worth it.

Eating can be social time. I love my lunch period. Eating and socializing is fun unless I need to interrupt my conversation to move my chair for a tray loaded with sugar and other carbs.

I am not blaming my peers for their choices, but it is clear how much unhealthy habits have influenced young, growing minds and bodies into extra pounds. The idea of teaching how to make good decisions and enhancing thinking while offering preservatives, sugar, salt and fat is disgusting.

A couple of weeks ago, my sister and I observed a restaurant that contained more overweight than fit customers. A woman, very pleasant but nonetheless rather heavy, asked me what was good on the menu. She had never been there. Cautiously, so I did not offend her, I suggested the soups and salads. When she came back she had a soup along with a sandwich and piece of bread.

After numerous orders of the restaurant’s wonderful sandwiches with chips or just a delicious pastry, I know there is improvement in my life yet to be practiced. People are humans and are bound to make mistakes. However, a change is due, beginning with schools.

It is time for America to rank itself as a culturally diverse food network, filled with growing intelligence, industry and healthiness.

Wendy Banta-Long, of Chesterton, is a senior at Chesterton High School. The opinions are the writer's.

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