Doctor Taken To Task For Including Junk Food In Daughter’s School Lunch

Now here is something really thought provoking. A father was strongly criticised by his daughter’s substitute teacher, because she considered the school lunch, he packed for the little girl, was too unhealthy.

I can’t say I’ve ever heard of that happening, but maybe it needs to happen more often than it has.

The teacher sent a note home with the child demanding that the father promise to do a better job in the future. In the note, the daughter’s substitute teacher, at Kirksville Primary School in Missouri, listed the unhealthy foods in the little girl’s school lunch, which included four chocolate bars, a bag of marshmallows, crackers and a pickle. It ended: “Please see that she packs a proper lunch tomorrow.” The letter was followed by a request for a parental signature, which the father refused to give, because he was so offended by the letter’s contents.

Wait. There’s more. Here’s where the story gets really interesting.

The Dad in question, a man called Justin Puckett, also happens to be a family Doctor from Missouri. He posted the contents of the letter on Facebook.

Now I am sure many will think, some might even say, as a Doctor, Justin Puckett, should know better than to send his daughter to school with a lunch containing so much junk food.  In his defense, the Doctor and father said “I have the ultimate responsibility to raise my children and I take that role very, very seriously and so maybe I took it bit more personally that there was some offence that maybe I wasn’t doing a good job in that duty, something that is my number one job.”

Of course a cynic might say if it’s your number one job Justin, you need to be doing it better.

To be fair, Justin Puckett, also made the point that the teacher did not give an accurate description of what was in his daughter’s lunch: “Unfortunately, the letter didn’t have what she had, correctly. She had four pieces of ham, a whole protein meat, she also had some pickles, which we admittedly cheat on pickles every once and a while as a vegetable, because some fights just aren’t worth having. She also had four marshmallows in a Ziploc bag and then she had three very small pieces of chocolate, of which she ate one for lunch and then she also gave her brother and another friend one at an after school program,” Puckett said.

The school later called the family to apologise saying the substitute teacher was out of order. The school released a statement saying: “we had an individual take it upon themselves to send a note home to parents ……this will not happen again.”

Puckett went on to say “The issue isn’t what happened at the Primary School and with my daughter because she is very independent and going to be completely unaffected by this. But what does bother me is that it just seems that we are constantly being inundated with the inability to be parents of our children,”

Has Puckett got a point? Or was the substitute teacher in the wrong here? In the court of public opinion I am not so sure. The substitute teacher obviously takes her job very seriously. She sees herself as an educator whose role is to promote healthy minds and bodies. She thought she was doing the right thing. No way could that school lunch be said to be healthy. The child might have got away with one piece of chocolate but if you were to ask any nutritionist, four pieces of chocolate and a bag of marshmallows is definitely a bridge too far. Now, you might think it silly to be having an argument over some junk food. But what isn’t silly is the latest missive from the World Health Organisation, warning that diseases linked to lifestyle choices, including diabetes and some cancers, kill 16 million people prematurely each year and urgent action is needed to stop what it describes as a “slow moving, public health disaster”. Unhealthy habits like consuming too much fat, salt and sugar along with smoking and alcohol abuse, are causing an epidemic of diseases, which together constitute the leading cause of death globally. The WHO says this “lifestyle disease” epidemic “ is a much greater public health threat than any other epidemic in human history.

” Non-communicable diseases (NCDs), like cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and a range of cancers, killed 38 million people around the globe in 2012 — 16 million of them under the age of 70, the WHO says. ”  Not thousands are dying, but millions are dying … every year in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s, not in their 80s and 90s.”

Forty two million children under the age of five are considered to be obese, and an estimated 84 per cent of adolescents do not get enough exercise.

In Australia, for example, some leading health groups have called on the Government to consider introducing a tax on junk food and sugary drinks. The Consumers Health Forum, the Heart Foundation, the Obesity Policy Coalition and the Public Health Association of Australia are calling on the government to take decisive action to end the widespread marketing of junk food and drink. The groups surveyed 1016 people, and 50 per cent supported a government imposed tax on junk food and sugary drinks, similar to the tax on alcohol and tobacco. The research also showed 79 per cent of people believe if a child’s intake of junk food is not lowered they will live shorter lives than their parents. Seventy-seven per cent of people polled, support making it compulsory for all packaged foods to have a health star rating. Eighty five per cent of people surveyed, say unhealthy eating habits is now a major problem for Australian children. It is the first time four major health groups have joined forces to demand action from the Government, which they say is now urgent.

“Despite at least six reports from task forces, obesity summits and research papers in the past 20 years advocating firm measures to stop marketing junk food to children, the advertising of fat, sugar and salt drenched products continues largely unrestricted,” the groups say in a joint statement. “Unless immediate action is taken to address dietary related illness there will be a significant increase in cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.” Heart Foundation National CEO, Mary Barry believes introducing a tax will help protect Australian children and stem the cost of obesity in this country which is estimated at $56 billion a year. “The obesity crisis is threatening a whole generation of children,” Ms Barry said.

Those are compelling reasons for why a dispute over four chocolates and a bag of marshmallows isn’t so inconsequential after all and why a father and a doctor should know better, and a substitute teacher might not have been so out of order in reminding him.

Diet Everyone’s Talking About- Not Eating Anything That Resembles Food

If it’s true that you are what you eat, and if social media is any guide, not many people would want to be British juice queen, Kara Rosen, founder of the juice company, Plenish.

Rosen decided it would be a good idea to unleash her ‘day on a plate’ diet to shock the world out of its unhealthy lethargy into what she considers to be healthy living. So she published her diet, it in all of its glory, in a British newspaper.

It would be fair to say there are a lot of diets, and stories about diets,  doing the rounds these days. You can take your pick. There’s the Paleo diet with activated almonds whatever they might be, no carbs, all liquid and the list goes on. But I don’t think Kara Rosen quite anticipated the worldwide reaction to her diet that bases nearly a whole day’s food intake around a kale salad with pistachios, olives, dried cherries, Argan oil and a drop of apple cider vinegar. It’s certainly a diet because it clearly doesn’t involve much of what most people would call food.

Here is a typical Kara Rosen day. You be the judge. It begins with some hot water and lemon before her morning shower before her workout. Then that’s followed by a handful of nuts before weight training or a run. She then has two scrambled egg whites (Rosen doesn’t like yolk) green tea and when she feels like a weekend treat, an almond milk cappuccino. As for the almond milk cappuccino, I can think of a number of things to call it, but weekend treat, I can safely say, would not be one of them.

Rosen’s biggest meal of the day, wait for it, consists of kale salad, pistachio nuts, olives, dried cherries, Argan oil and a single drop of apple cider vinegar, sometimes with brown rice and grilled fish. A Kara Rosen ‘carby’ lunch, as she calls it, consists of two rice cakes, chia seeds and avocado.

You might not be too surprised to learn that, generally speaking, nutritionists are not impressed with the ‘day on a plate’ diet. In fact not only were they singularly unimpressed, they seriously questioned whether Rosen would be able to survive on such a diet.

The Dietitians Association of Australia was asked to comment on the Rosen diet. Spokesperson, Milena Katz said, in her view, it was “ unrealistic for most people.” I think you’d call that a masterful piece of understatement. Katz made a valiant attempt to break it all down. “ A pack of dried cherries would cost about $A50 a kilo based on fresh cherries being $A20, “ Kata said. “ And I haven’t seen Argan oil for consumption in Australia. It’s been advertised as a hair product.”


Katz said clearly Kara Rosen doesn’t eat certain food groups such as dairy and that might be because she is allergic to certain foods. “ Some people are fine without dairy,” Katz said. “ as long as they are replacing it with supplements. But the majority of people wouldn’t because they don’t know what they are.”

Katz has a description for the obsession some people have about what they eat. She calls it ‘orthorexia nervosa’ An unhealthy fixation with otherwise healthy eating.

“ Generally, we’re seeing that more people are, very, very concerned with what they’re eating,” Katz said. “ And they are potentially excluding good food that they (wrongly) perceive as unhealthy. Normal eating, is eating a bit of everything and having treats on special occasions.”

Now we are talking. Finally a bit of sensible, common-sense advice.

Social media had no shortage of advice for Kara Rosen and her diet. A lot of it was gratuitous and mocking and unkind but pretty funny.

Here are some examples where people have offered their own versions of a ‘day on a plate’ :

“ 7am. Two glasses of deionized water with half a pound of cotton wool. 7.10am 12 specks of dust spread evenly on a 4 “ square of corrugated cardboard. Maybe even a leaf. 12.30pm Two large gulps of free range oxygen. A homemade French abstract lasagna. 3pm A Kit-Kat wrapper. 6.30pm Feng Shui cottage pie with two pipettes of dish water. 10pm Sawdust.

Harriet Ball @ haz_rose: “How to have a #miserable day.”

Charlotte Henry @ charlottehenry : seriously, it is one of the most depressing things I’ve read.”

And Adam Liaw @ admaliaw: “ My day on a plate. 5am wake up and check emails. 6am 10 km run. 7am yoga and a green smoothie. 9am KFC double. 10am cup of ghee. 11am bed.”

Finally, this comment: : “ You’ve accidently given me food that my food eats.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Social media went completely nuts about the Rosen ‘day on a plate’ diet.

The key question worth asking is why do we care? Why would it cause such a strong reaction?  According to Cultural Studies commentator and academic, Doctor Lauren Rosewarne, we care because of the way it makes us feel about our own bodies. She says the ‘day on a plate’ phenomenon gives us leverage to look into how other people live their lives, and what sort of food they eat or don’t eat and in what quantities. “ There is also the comparison factor, “ Rosewarne says. “ How do they eat compared to how I eat? This can make us feel better or worse about ourselves and there’s a lot of guilt surrounding food in our culture.”

Ironically, Rosewarne thinks that social media is largely responsible for the almost instant dissemination of information or indignation about fad diets, especially when someone is preaching about their food choices. She says it is a particularly sensitive issue in western culture.

“Once upon a time, it all stayed in the magazine that came out as a Sunday supplement,”  Rosewarne says. ” But now these columns (like Rosen’s) get a life of their own, thanks to social media.”  Rosewarne says what people really despise,  are people like Kara Rosen, who choose to preach a “ holier-than-thou approach to food consumption, which is fast becoming a cultural irritant that refuses to go away.”

“ We just don’t want to be preached to by non-health experts, “ Rosewarne says.

No we don’t.

Stop Bullying Fat People

There seems to be a belief in some quarters that the best way to affect change in human beings is to humiliate, berate and shame them into changing. The people, who think this is a really, good idea, call it tough love even though love has nothing to do with it. In fact it should be called the antithesis of love. I call it harassment and the perpetrators are just bullies. These people have a phrase they love repeating and I’m sick to death of hearing: You need to toughen up. No they don’t. They just need you to get off their case.

Sadly, there is a select group of people in our community who seem to be a magnet for what I call the shame game. And they are people who are overweight. Of course the humiliation directed at fat people wouldn’t be complete without them having their very own TV reality show. In Australia it’s called The Biggest Loser. Clever title you might think. It can be understood in two ways, can’t it? The competitor who loses the most weight? Maybe. But I think we all know its true meaning. The biggest loser, as in, you are the biggest loser if you happen to be obese. Now I recognize that people all over the world are getting fatter and obesity is a serious problem and a significant health issue. But I also happen to believe that nothing good comes from trying to shame people into drastic action. It makes a situation worse not better. But try telling that to UK television personality Katie Hopkins. I’d never heard of Katie Hopkins until I read that she is about to screen a documentary called Katie Hopkins: Journey To Fat And Back. As you can gather from the narcissistic title it’s all about Katie and nothing beneficial for fat people apart from telling them how pathetic they are.

Not content with that, Katie set out to prove a point didn’t she. Cameras filmed her as she ate 6500 calories a day for three months, gaining almost three and half stone in weight and then she goes about losing it through self discipline, as in not eating 6500 calories a day and through exercise. In a promo clip from the documentary we see Katie cry (like we are meant to feel sorry for her) as she recites what she has eaten in a day and we are told in graphic detail what she ate: cereal with chocolate milk, a donut, two pieces of toast, pasta, ten pieces of shortbread, two cans of drink, a jacket potato, chocolate cake and a tube of Pringles. “It’s a lot of eating in day,” Hopkins says. “ This is a stupid project. I hate fat people for making me do this.” To which her husband makes the eminently sensible observation: “Well it was your idea.”

Of course, the television publicists wanting to promote this tosh describe it as a “ documentary that will confront Katie’s attitudes and put her beliefs to the test, by following he own physical and emotional journey as she gains and loses weight, whilst exploring the broader body image in our society.” Thank God for TV publicists. They couldn’t lie straight in bed. This documentary may be many things but one thing it is not and that is a conduit for promoting, compassion and understanding for the overweight. I’ve since learned that Katie Hopkins has for years been telling overweight people the only reason they are fat is because they are lazy. In a breakfast television interview to promote her documentary, Hopkins even said, fat people need to look in the mirror, look at themselves and realise it’s their fault.

And if you need even more good reasons not to ever watch this mockumentary of the overweight, Katie in a moment of candid honesty, reminded the breakfast TV interviewers that the emotion she shows in the documentary was not real and that she was crying crocodile tears. ‘Nothing in my life has made me cry, not you two, not anyone else,”{ Hopkins said. “ I am the witch with the heart of stone.”

Boy did she get that right.

Over the years, the overweight have not been her only target. Hopkins once said, in commenting on the social class system in England, “ I think you can tell a great deal from a name. For me, there are certain names that I hear and I think ‘urrgh’ for me a name is a shortcut of finding out what class that child comes from and makes me ask, Do I want my children to play with them?” Charming. If you think being a total snob can be charming. Personally I don’t.

And this: “ I tried to get someone else’s husband because I wanted him. I gave myself 8 out of 10 for ruthlessness for that one.”

Of course the overweight are never far from her loving thoughts: “ To call yourself plus size is just a euphemism for being fat. Life is much easier when you are thinner. Big is not beautiful, of course (getting) a job comes down to how you look.”

You might have gathered I don’t particularly like Katie Hopkins. It’s not that I have a problem with her opinions. She’s entitled to have them. I just don’t like bullies. Even passive, aggressive ones.

But rather than say anything more that’s nasty about Katie Hopkins I’ll let her have the final word:

“ Personally I hate mobility scooters. I find their owners intolerable. Ran past a mobility scooter going up a hill. Made me giggle. I need to grow up and stop being an arse.”


Older Women Wanting To Have Healthy Babies, The Trick Is Eat More Ice Cream

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, something comes along that makes you realize you haven’t. Actually, there are a lot of things that I haven’t heard of but this is so bizarre it’s worth talking about.

Here’s a question: What do you think might help older women have babies? Fertility treatment? No. Having a relationship with a man who has a high sperm count? Well yes, but in the context of what I am talking about here, Nah. Give up? Ok. The answer is ice cream.

This revelation, has greater relevance at this time of year if you happen to live in the southern hemisphere, as I do, where the daily summer forecast varies between hot and hotter.

The bottom line is, according to researchers, if you eat ice cream regularly, and you’re an older woman, then it’s going to significantly improve your chances of conceiving a healthy child.

Personally, I don’t need a reason to eat ice cream. Summer or winter. It happens to be one of my favorite pastimes and I have a waistline to prove it.

The research comes from the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center in the United States. They asked women, over the age of 35, to keep a record of what they ate during their IVF treatment.

And when researchers began collating the figures, they discovered something unusual. Those who ate the most ice cream, cream, yogurt and milk, were 21 per cent more likely to give birth than those who rarely ate dairy products. And the quantities don’t need to be big or eaten frequently, every day, to make a difference.

Just three portions of dairy each day is enough to have a significant impact – the daily equivalent of one scoop of ice cream, one glass of milk and a slice of cheese.

So, is there a scientific explanation for why this is happening? Well, apparently there is. According to lead researcher, Dr Jorge Chavarro, of Massachusetts General Hospital, cow’s milk contains hormones that will improve the chances of an embryo being successfully implanted inside the womb.

“We found that women who had the highest intake of dairy were more likely to have live births,” Chavarro said. “ For women under 35 there doesn’t seem to be an association but for women over 35 the association is much stronger. That is the exact opposite of what we expected to find.”

But, I am beginning to think there is an element of the pre-ordained about this research. It turns out the situation is the exact opposite for men. According to this same researcher, if a man eats lots of ice cream, milk, cheese and yoghurt, their fertility will in fact decrease and they’ll end up firing blanks. It is even worse news for obese or overweight men, who eat lots of soy products. This type of food has a catastrophic effect on sperm production. And there’s a scientific reason for this as well. Sperm production is affected by something called phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that behave exactly like the hormone, oestrogen, which doesn’t like male sperm.

And because obese men, produce more oestrogen than their slimmer counterparts, the adverse effect on sperm production is compounded if you’ll pardon the pun. So the lesson is if you’re male and want to have children it’s best if you are not a vegetarian and you do it at a young age.

But then again if you are male and eat a lot of bacon and processed meat then your sperm count is likely to be 30 percent less than men who avoid these kinds of food.

In fact, Doctor Chavarro is deeply concerned about how beef is produced in the United States because of its possible, harmful effect on male infertility. He says many beef producers give their cattle, natural or synthetic hormones, to stimulate growth, a few days and weeks before they are slaughtered at the abattoir.

These hormones may well be one of the culprits in lowering the male sperm count. In fact if men want to eat food that is going to boost their fertility rather than reduce it, they are better off eating walnuts. They not only improve the quality of sperm production, they can also turn weak swimmers into sperm strong enough to swim across the English Channel.

But getting back to the story of how ice cream is helping to improve the fertility of older women, dairy products contain the hormone, progesterone and that is very good news.. This hormone, makes the female womb become sticky which can have a glue like effect when an embryo is implanted using IVF.

Progesterone production, is known to decrease in women as they get older so this is giving them a new lease of life..

Personally, I’m not quite sure what to make of this research. On the one hand, it offers a glimmer of hope for women who might have left the decision to have a family very late in life. But on the other, it is basically saying that overweight, middle aged men, who are either vegetarian or eat too much processed meat, are almost good for nothing.

And while I am not a vegetarian, nor do I eat a lot of processed meat, I do pretty much fulfil the other requirements which makes me feel a little besieged by all of this news.

I guess if nothing else it gives true meaning to the phrase, you are what you eat.