Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kids and vegetables

The secret of good nutrition is that there really is no secret. It's a function of focusing your food choices on fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and low fat dairy. And try not to eat too much. All the behaviors and new habits that are required to make those types of choices second nature is where the real work is. For me personally, I cannot imagine how I could stay on program if I wasn't completely captivated by all manner of fruit. Accordingly, fruits and vegetables are a big part of my diet.

I think about these five categories of food every time I go grocery shopping. It seems that more and more, my family does almost all of its shopping around the perimeter of the grocery store. The interior aisles are the domicile for endless array of heavily processed foods that are too often loaded with sugar, sodium and fat. I recognize that the perimeter of the grocery store is also on balance more expensive, and I am grateful for the fact that we can afford to focus our diet on unprocessed foods.

This weekend, I had a stark reminder that many others in this country have much less access to these healthy foods. I was very proud of the fact that Weight Watchers had the opportunity to sponsor a Fit & Fun in the City event at the Harlem Children's Zone this past Saturday. It was a great event at an inspiring facility that serves a 100-block zone of 10,000 children in Harlem. The Fit & Fun event served to launch the construction of a vegetable garden on the roof of HCZ that the kids in that facility will attend, maintain and benefit from.

Former President Bill Clinton gives introductory remarks to an energized and engaged group of mothers and fathers in Harlem.

It was also a great event that featured a fantastic line-up of speakers including Bill Clinton, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Rachel Ray and Allan Houston (former stand-out Knicks player). During a panel discussion held by NY Times Wellness Editor, Tara Parker-Pope, a consistent set of themes emerged. As adults, we need to work harder to steer our kids away from sugary processed foods and more toward fruits and vegetables. As adults, we need to be both role models and focused parents when it comes to healthy eating. As adults, we need to find ways of making nutritious eating fun and engaging. All-in-all, it was thoughtful and inspiring commentary.

Fun & Fit in the City participants including Dr. Oz, Rachel Ray, Allan Houston, Tara Parker-Pope, NY City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (and me!).

During the Q&A session that followed, several mothers expressed their frustration about the lack of availability of unprocessed foods in their neighborhood markets. They often have to travel surprisingly long distances to get to fresh markets. As many of these women are working one, two and sometimes three jobs, this becomes a considerable issue to overcome. Many policy experts have now come to refer to economically disadvantaged neighborhoods as food deserts due to the lack of healthy foods in their markets.

With the Lose for Good campaign, we are working for the second year with Share Our Strength, a fantastic organization that focuses not only on feeding children, but feeding them the right kinds of nutritious foods. Our contributions have gone to help support an initiative called the Good Food Gardens, jointly run by Share Our Strength and the Food Network (another fantastic group of people). I am proud that we have been able to make our own direct contribution to the issue of childhood hunger/obesity, but clearly much more needs to be collectively done.

Above our the NYC chefs who participated in Chefs Lose for Good. They collectively lost a ton of weight which further contributed to our Lose For Good drive. In the backdrop is a Good Food Garden which will be placed into a NY housing project.

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  1. What an awesome and relevant event! My children are seeing me live it out with Weight Watchers and my success. And the carry over is they live it out too! Still tracking... @ and Another key component, my meetings rock!

  2. Thank you thank you thank you for recognizing the connection and doing something about it. I'm PROUD to be a part of Weight Watchers even more now than ever.