6 Ways Schools Make Kids Diabetic

Real-Life Insights and Takaways

  • Schools often use old models of eating and exercise and by default, discourage a healthy life in the following ways:
    • #1 – Promote a lot of running and exercise; but just moving more won’t necessarily make you healthy.
      • We sometimes believe that if we just exercise enough we will be thin.
      • Movement is fantastic, but we can’t eat junk food and exercise and expect results.
      • Our brain is automatically going to try to balance our weight out for us; so when we exercise more, we are more hungry and eat more.
    • #2 – Food in the school cafeteria isn’t necessarily healthy.
      • Many schools are trying to serve salads, fruits, and vegetables, but there are also a lot of non-healthy options which most students will choose over healthier options.
      • Schools are limited by their budgets.
      • Most people are more concerned about limiting the amount of food they eat, not the quality or nutritional value of the food.
      • In order for children to want to eat healthy food, they need to be educated about what foods are healthy.
    • #3 – A balanced breakfast typically includes: sugar packed cereal, juice, and french toast.
      • Eggs are a wonderful breakfast option due to healthy fats and low cost.
      • We can educate children about the best way to start their day.
    • #4  – Vending machines are readily available.
      • Kids need to know that vending machines are not their friends.
      • Vending machines are fast and inexpensive and typically do not include healthy options.
      • Some of the granola bars and chips are not much better than a candy bar.
    • #5 – Candy is often used as a reward.
      • Class parties often involve sugary treats.
      • The reward for winning a fundraiser, etc. is often a treat-oriented reward.
      • Kids often get the message, “If I am good, then I get a treat.”
      • We can let people know they matter and give them a dopamine rush without involving sugar by showing kindness.
      • We can encourage kids to reach for a big goal and get a better prize later, rather than candy in the moment.
    • #6 – Even if budgets are tight, eating sugar isn’t the answer.
      • Even though white flour and sugar are inexpensive, we can still look at the least expensive non-starchy vegetables, whole food fats, etc. and make good choices.
      • Our country made choices after WW II to make the common foods less expensive.
      • It is possible to make SANE foods as inexpensive as inSANE foods are now, if we push for change in our country.
  • If you are on the run, pack some nuts or jerky in your bag or pocket rather than using a vending machine.
  • When you eat broccoli, you don’t get a hit of dopamine, like you do when you eat sugar.
  • We can make an effort to share kindness rather than treats. Humans receive a dose of dopamine from receiving compliments and love.

—NEXT ACTION—
Families should have a conversation about what is good to eat and what is not, and include children in creating solutions.

Reflection Questions

  • Is just moving more enough to make your children healthy?
  • Are you or your children able to make healthy eating choices when at school?
  • How can you reward your children without using sugar?
  • What does a balanced meal look like at your child’s school?
  • How can you educate your children to make healthy food choices when you are not around?

SANE Soundbites

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  • 2:28 – 2:53, “Moving more won’t make you slim. So I had PE classes all throughout elementary school and even on into high school. Everything I had been taught, is you need exercise, exercise, exercise if you want to be healthy, if you want to lose weight. So I’d really try hard, I’d try to run the miles, I would try to participate in the sports. I would just try to do as much exercise as I could, but I wasn’t seeing any results. I was so frustrated because my PE teachers were in shape, but I wasn’t. A lot of my friends were, but I just didn’t know what to do.”
  • 3:13 – 3:36, “I love the idea of helping people move, of course. I think what happens is sometimes that message gets lost and we think that the more that you run and if you get 500 miles for the 100 Mile Club, you could actually attain your ideal body weight and shape and that’s not what was happening with Alia and especially because of her feet were really flat, it was actually hurting her physically to do that.
  • 4:13 – 4:39, “If you would just exercise more, it’s almost like back in the day of indulgences and Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformation, where it was like, sin all you want, just pay the church money and your sins go away. It doesn’t work like that. You’re exactly right, movement is fantastic for health. We should do it, but saying that, hey, eat Frosted Flakes, they’re gggrreeat and they’ll fuel you to play more is not the right approach.”
  • 5:21 – 5:43, “When you exercise, you do burn calories, but remember, our brain is working to automatically balance calories for us. That’s what it’s designed to do so if our brain thinks we should be heavy, then it’s just going to say, oh, you burned some extra calories. That’s fine, it’s going to make you hungry. How many times have we gone out, we play, or we run and we’re like, oh my gosh, I’m thirsty and I’m hungry. So we just cancel it out.”
  • 6:59 – 7:12, “I think it’s important for parents, as you’re sending your children to school and as you’re thinking about it, when you send them to the cafeteria, if you’re trying to have your family eat SANEly, that’s going to be really hard to have that happen at a cafeteria.”
  • 9:36 – 9:55, “Students, they just eat because food tastes good. They don’t know what’s in the food or what it does to them and a lot of them just think, well, changing the food I eat isn’t going to make me healthy, it’s just the amount I eat. So they’re thinking more about a fixed calorie counting or calories in, calories out, whereas, they’re not thinking about what’s in their food, and what that food is going to do with their body.”
  • 11:56 – 12:14, “We’ve talked about these 100 calorie snack packs. There’s this beautiful, natural 100 calorie snack pack, which you just crack and sizzle up and they’re super inexpensive. You go to Costco, you can get 60 of them for $9.00. Can we get some scrambling going on at schools?”
  • 17:32 – 17:46, “So sugar in the long term isn’t a prize or a reward. We see this a lot in our elementary school especially. And also into middle school where candy is just given out as a prize or an incentive to answer questions. So if you do a good job in your essay, here’s a piece of candy. Great job.”
  • 18:39 – 19:00, “So what ends up happening is our children from the time they start public school, at home with parents like I was, they’re being taught that if I’m good, then I get sugar and I think what that does, I think that carries into adulthood where then I feel like, if I’ve been good today, I can go get sugar and that’s contributing to this problem we have.”
  • 19:31 – 20:23, “One of the reasons that we don’t hand someone a stalk of broccoli when they’re sad to try and cheer them up is when you eat broccoli you don’t necessarily get ahead of dopamine in your brain, whereas you do when you ingest sugar or any substance that human beings abuse on the planet. You know what else releases dopamine? Kindness. You know what else doesn’t have any side effects? Kindness. You could say I love you with an ice cream cone. You could also just say I love you, really deeply and meaningfully and I know you probably can’t do that in school because you might get in trouble, but maybe we can try to make an effort instead of saying, hey, Sally, answer the question, here’s a fun sized Snickers bar. Sally answer the question, look at Sally in the eyes, and make eye contact and say, Sally that was brilliant. Thank you. I would argue that’s going to get you more dopamine.”
  • 23:48 – 24:10, “I mean helping our children learn how can I eat healthy on a budget? I think that’s one of the most critical skills that’s not being taught anywhere and I know for one, I want my children to know how to do this because I’m not going to be funding them their whole lives, they’re going to be on a budget, they’re going to be in school, but I don’t want them to ever think, well, just because I’m on a budget means that I need to fill my diet with sugar.”
  • 24:56 – 25:20, “Of course, we need to act on the grass roots level. We need to take care of our own lives. We have to take care of our children. We have to take care of our schools. But I really just want to give a call to action to everyone to say, if we really want to solve this problem, we can at a political level reverse this and we can make—it is absolutely economically possible to make SANE foods as inexpensive as what are currently in SANE foods.”
  • 25:27 – 25:54, “I think just a next-action has to be for families to have the conversations and help educate their children and help the children become part of the solution. If it’s just moms and dads keeping their kids in the dark about what’s good and what’s not and just saying, no, you can’t eat that or here’s what you should eat, the kids aren’t going to make the right choices, but I found that anytime I have conversations with our children about the why and really help them get educated, they’re smart and they want to move forward and make healthy choices.”

Read the Transcript

Jonathan: Hey, what’s up everybody, Jonathan Bailor back with April Perry and as a special bonus on her epic Sweet 16th birthday, she’s actually giving us a present on her 16th birthday. We actually have Alia Perry with us as well, the esteemed eldest daughter of April Perry, so this is going to be an awesome show. Welcome!

April: Thank you so much. It’s excited to share this with Alia. Big day for her.

Jonathan: I thought it would be really, really cool for Alia to join us today because not only can we all celebrate on the Sweet 16-ness, but also Alia, I know you’ve been doing some amazing work, not only personally, but also in your school environment in terms of setting an example and just kind of seeing through some of the inSANEity that’s been taking place in grade schools, in middle schools and high schools and setting an inspirational example. I wanted this to be an open forum for us to talk about that because I know a lot of the folks listening to the show have children or know people that have children that are below the university setting and are exposed to some of the inSANEity. Maybe we can help them navigate through that.

April: Yeah, I’m really excited about this. I want to make perfectly clear as we’re going into this podcast is that we really appreciate the wonderful people who work at our schools. She’s had fantastic elementary school teachers, middle school and high school. We had wonderful people who are the Administrators who are doing their best to provide a great education, but there are just some things that have just not been taught and that were negatively impacting Alia and they were impacting other people.
Today, we’re not trying to be critical, but we’re just trying to spotlight and highlight some of these issues that could easily be fixed and help other families.

Jonathan: I think that’s really important to highlight that April and I appreciate you bringing that up because not only for the sort of instructors or Administrators, but even for ourselves as individuals. We also sometimes need to say this about physicians, where if you were in medical school 40 years ago, you were taught one thing, and you’re practicing what you were taught and you are teaching what you were told to teach, so we’re not here to say you’re bad, but what we are here to say is just like we don’t use the same computers or telephones or airplanes that we used 40 years ago, if someone will tell us that we’ve got new eating and exercise information, which we do, now it’s time to use that as well, right?

April: Love it. All right. So we jump into Number One?

Jonathan: Let’s do it. Number One.

April: Okay. Number One, Alia. Take it away.

Alia: Moving more won’t make you slim. So I had PE classes all throughout elementary school and even on to high school. Everything I had been taught, is you need exercise, exercise, exercise if you want to be healthy, if you want to lose weight. So I’d really try hard, I’d try to run the miles, I would try to participate in the sports. I would just try to do as much exercise as I could, but I wasn’t seeing any results. I was so frustrated because my PE teachers were in shape, but I wasn’t. A lot of my friends were, but I just didn’t know what to do.

April: Yeah, and there’s a wonderful club at our school, which we adore. It’s called the 100 Mile Club and so children are encouraged to run 100 miles throughout the year and they come early in the morning —

Alia: There’s lots of different events during school so running is just encouraged.

April: We are really encouraging people and moms would come with their strollers. I would go in the morning with Eric. We’d all participate and I love the idea of helping people move, of course.
I think what happens is sometimes that message gets lost and we think that the more that you run and if you get 500 miles for the 100 Mile Club, you could actually attain your ideal body weight and shape and that’s not what was happening with Alia and especially because of her feet were really flat, it was actually hurting her physically to do that.

Jonathan: There’s so much truth in what you just said and I’ll just add four things because we have limited time. We need to have a whole podcast about this because it’s a brilliant topic.
The observations that I’ve actually seen in the past eight years, we talk about we’re not here to criticize people, but for example, when Michele Obama first stepped into a position of leadership, she talked about really wanting to tackle the obesity epidemic and she was talking about food and blah-blah-blah. If you noticed, the food corporations got a little bit upset about that and then the message gradually transitioned away from doing anything about what you’re eating and just move more. That’s the solution, just move more. If you would just exercise more, it’s almost like back in the day of indulgences and Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformation, where it was like, sin all you want, just pay the church money and your sins go away. It doesn’t work like that. You’re exactly right, movement is fantastic for health. We should do it, but saying that, hey, eat Frosted Flakes, they’re gggrreeat and they’ll fuel you to play more is not the right approach.

April: Yeah, and it’s been really helpful, not just for her, but for me as a mother as well, so of course, you want to be standing, walking, moving, exercising, but not being stressed about it or thinking that that’s the key to solving the Diabetes epidemic and the obesity epidemic.

Jonathan: Let’s keep one other thing in mind is that one of the reasons it doesn’t help from a weight regulation perspective is that just like when we move more, if you exercise hard, you sweat more and what does sweating more cause you to do? It causes you to want to drink more, right? When you exercise, you sweat and then your body needs to replace that water so you become thirsty. When you exercise, you do burn calories, but remember, our brain is working to automatically balance calories for us. That’s what it’s designed to do so if our brain thinks we should be heavy, then it’s just going to say, oh, you burned some extra calories. That’s fine, it’s going to make you hungry. How many times have we gone out, we play, or we run and we’re like, oh my gosh, I’m thirsty and I’m hungry. So we just cancel it out.

April: Exactly and actually that goes right into Number Two, which has to with the foods that we’re having at school. Number Two…

Alia: So, just because food is served in our cafeteria, either at school or in different places, it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy. So I see this a lot because our school offers a set menu of foods and it doesn’t really change much. So the kids who buy from school, they just expect to eat that and be healthy.

April: There are some healthy meals.

Alia: Yeah.

April: They’ll have salad bars, they’ll have baby carrots, some fruits. I think in every school they’re trying.

Alia: Yeah, they’re trying, but a lot of the foods the kids want aren’t the ones that are…

April: Every month they send as a parent a menu for the month, saying here’s what the cafeteria is serving for your children and of course they have salad and fruit and vegetable options and things like that, but then it always is tacos, pizza, hamburgers, a lot of white flour, or sugar or grease and the chicken nuggets and things like that that the kids will eat, but it’s really frustrating when you think about it. The breakfast options are worse for the most part.
When you just think, oh, you’re sending these kids to school, especially with children who maybe are getting a lunch tickets, or having the food served to them, most of the time it’s just not healthy.
I think it’s important for parents, as you’re sending your children to school and as you’re thinking about it, when you send them to the cafeteria, if you’re trying to have your family eat SANEly, that’s going to be really hard to have that happen at a cafeteria.

Jonathan: You’re exactly right, April. I think it’s really important. For me, personally, this is the toughest nut to crack. We talk about hey, it’s New Years and we’re recording this on January 8th. Happy Birthday and Happy New Years, Alia.
It’s relatively easy for us to say, hey, this is what we’re going to do in our individual lives. This is what I’m going to go buy at the grocery store and that’s fine.
When we talk about a school, which is on a super fixed budget, I bet they wished they could spend more money on food. They wish they could serve “healthier” by their definition, it’s probably not actually healthy, but let’s say it is. Let’s say it’s SANEer food, but the money and the funds just aren’t there and it’s not that they want to serve that unhealthy food, it’s just that literally, if you have a budget of $1.25 per child for lunch, what do you do with that?
I’m not going to stand here and say, here’s the answer, because that’s actually really a hard problem to solve and we have to make some societal changes to solve it, but I think the net takeaway of if at all possible we need to step in and do something and just not default to what’s being served to us, is that the key takeaway?

April: I think the other thing is, we’re huge fans of Jaime Oliver. Alia, has loved watching what he’s been doing, actually going into schools and saying here, let me take your budget, let me show you how I can make healthier food for the kids and he’s been doing great work, so she had dreams of meeting him some day.
I think that people are starting to address the issue and they’re starting to figure out solutions, it’s just that we need to at least acknowledge it’s a problem before anyone who’s going to invest any time or funds to solve it. That’s something that Alia cares about, not that she eats at the cafeteria a lot, but she cares about the children who are. Right?

Jonathan: And then Alia, I have a question for you because I know this has been covered in a lot of whatever, Katie Couric’s documentary and any documentary that talks about food, they talk about school. They’ll always give examples and of course, it’s anecdotal of the school cafeteria serves what the students eat. So, they’ll talk about hey, we tried to serve healthier food and no one ate it and then we introduced Pizza Hut and Pizza Hut gives us additional money for our budget and all of the students are happy now.
There’s two sides to this, one is serving that SANEer food, and the other is that the students actually eat it. Do you have any insight into that?

Alia: Students, they just eat because food tastes good. They don’t know what’s in the food or what it does to them and a lot of them just think, well, changing the food I eat isn’t going to make me healthy, it’s just the amount I eat. So they’re thinking more about a fixed calorie counting or calories in, calories out, whereas, they’re not thinking about what’s in their food, and what that food is going to do with their body.

April: If they’re more educated about that—

Alia: Yeah, if they’re educated about what food they’re eating will do to them and what results it will give them, I think that maybe they would change their perspective on that.

Jonathan: That really resonates with me, Alia, because I can remember at this point, many years ago. I was very little and I was obsessed with Rocky and I was obsessed with Superman, and my mother used to tell me and a lot of people can probably emphasize with this because you think of the cartoon character, Popeye. Popeye eats spinach, it makes him strong. So even kids at a very young age, can understand if explained to them, hey you want to be like Popeye, you’ve got to eat your spinach. Hey you want to be like Superman, or you want to be like Michael Jordan or you want to be like someone you admire, what you’re going to put in your body is going to influence that. I definitely think that can be very, very helpful.

April: All right, should we jump to Number Three?

Alia: Sure. So, sugar packed cereal, French toast sticks, and juices are the foundation to a balanced healthy breakfast.

April: I think we need to emphasize this because looking at the cafeteria, most people are eating lunch at the cafeteria, but there’s also breakfast items and not just breakfast at school, but breakfast kids are used to eating at home. I know what I ate all growing up, was a big bowl of cereal, maybe some orange juice. Juice and French toast and pancakes, that’s what people think of as breakfast cereal and for breakfast foods.

Alia: Spinach and kale and salmon aren’t really thought as of breakfast foods.

Jonathan: And breakfast to me is actually the easiest. Lunch is a harder problem. Like I just said, I don’t really have a good answer for you for lunch, but for breakfast though, we’ve got the incredible edible egg.
This is especially for growing individuals and this is something which we are going to see change. I guarantee you 20 years from now, we’re going to see a much different perception here because the science around healthy fats, the science around healthy saturated fats. Certain saturated fats being not only not bad for us, but actually good for us and looking at the looking at the nutrient density and the protein that is found within eggs.
We’ve talked about these 100 calorie snack packs. There’s this beautiful, natural 100 calorie snack pack, which you just crack and sizzle up and they’re super inexpensive. You go to Costco, you can get 60 of them for $9.00. Can we get some scrambling going on at schools?

April: Again it goes back to education, right? If children just think, if I measure my cereal and I only eat three-fourths of a cup and I only have a half of cup of milk and I only limit my calories for my breakfast, and most kids aren’t thinking that right? They’re just kind of pouring and putting all of that together.
I think that when we can educate the children and let them know when you want to start your day, there is an emphasis on kids getting breakfast, making sure they’re eating. You have a lot of friends who don’t eat anything.

Alia: Yeah, nothing, but maybe skipping breakfast and then just eating lunch or dinner would make them healthier, lose weight, but in reality it’s not and they’re hungry the whole day.

April: Right.

Jonathan: They’re eating less, so there you go, right? They’re on the right path.

April: Actually that leads us into Number Four because what happens is when they don’t eat breakfast and then they come to school and then they’re hungry, they often go to vending machines and our idea for Number Four is that if you want to be healthy, let’s say you’re a teenager and watching us right now or a student in elementary school or middle school, you want to be healthy, the vending machines are not your friend and we just need to be clear on this and I know it’s sad because you could look at a vending machine—

Alia: Everything is $1.00 or $1.50 and everything tastes so great and it’s super cheap and you can get home really fast and you don’t have to wait in a long lunch lines.

April: What’s typically in the vending machines?

Alia: All kinds of chips, and granola bars, pop tarts, things like that.

April: A bunch of candy bars?

Alia: No, not candy bars.

April: Okay, not candy bars, so they’ve cut the candy bars, but it’s more like…

Alia: It’s popcorn, chips, and stuff like that.

April: So for you eating SANE, is there anything in the vending machine that can work for you?

Alia: There’s not anything that would be strictly SANE, no.

April: I think it’s [Inaudible 13:54] to something that’s been really interesting, so as we’ve looked at her options.
When I was in school, they used to have in vending machines, you could get oranges out of it. It was great. It was $.35 cents, I could get an orange. It was back in the day. Apples, oranges, some of those foods actually could be in a vending machine that I would opt for.
I just think nowadays, I think they are trying to get away from candy, but often there’s just many grams of sugar in a granola bar pack or getting chips or some of the other options. Really they’re not healthier options even though the sugar content is lower. I just think we need to be really clear and help our children understand, here is what is in the vending machines, just so that you’re aware and that you know and then you can just make an informed decision.

Jonathan: That’s exactly right, April, and in some ways I would actually say that these “healthy” granola bars can actually be worse for us because on some level if you ate a Snickers bar you might be conscious like hey, I just ate a Snickers bar, maybe I’m not going to eat another Snickers bar tomorrow because I know a Snickers bar is not good for me.
When the thing says, healthy, whole grains, they say, oh, this is great, I’m going to eat four of them and I’m going to eat it every day because it’s a healthy option.

April: That was even my problem. I was telling Alia the other day, I actually sold candy in high school to pay for my cheerleading uniform. I had this huge box and I walked around every day selling candy and what happened is that I would eat the candy during the day because I’m holding 100 candy bars or whatever and I would eat Skittles. I think I ate a pack of Skittles every single day in my second period class because it was fat free. So I thought oh, the Skittles are the fat free version of all the candy I have here. I would eat that.
Then I started noticing I was gaining weight in high school and I was getting nervous. Then, I would try to eat less during the day, right to compensate for my Skittles and that was stressful for me and had I known it wasn’t just about calories and fat content and had I known how my body really worked, I would’ve have had something different. I honestly would have, but I didn’t know and especially being a cheerleader, there are a lot of other girls who were having issues with anoxeria, bulimia. This was not just the cheerleaders, but very common among teenage girls. I just feel really grateful that I don’t worry about that with Alia because she’s happy with her body because she takes care of it eating SANE.

Jonathan: That’s brilliant and I want to make sure that we do have some SANE options. Like the vending machine, like you said. I totally agree, just steer the other direction, but then we have this gap which is like, hey, the vending machine serves a purpose. I don’t have a refrigerator, I need something quick. What do I do? And I will give two suggestions. I could give more, but these are the lowest hanging fruit, like very hard to make an excuse, very easy to acquire.
The first one is nuts. If possible raw. These are going to keep you full, they’ve got a decent amount of fiber in them. You’re going to get some healthy fats and you can keep them in your pocket, very simple. The other one is jerkies. Ideally, something that’s going to be a lower sugar. There are some nonsense jerky out there, but when we’re talking about just like the lowest hanging fruit, something that’s like what you would find in a vending machine, but maybe you could bring it from home. If you can buy nuts in bulk and if you can buy jerky, whether it’s turkey, beef, salmon. They have pork jerky. They have all kind of jerky. The jerky market seems to be exploding but those are two good options.

April: Just one other thing. One thing I did do, I actually had a lunchbox that had an ice pack in it. They’re easy. I would have chopped a lot more vegetables and brought them with me. That would have gone very well with the jerky and the nuts you just mentioned. Those are good ideas. All right, ready for Number Five?

Alia: Yeah. So sugar in the long term isn’t a prize or a reward. We see this a lot in our elementary school especially. And also into middle school where candy is just given out as a prize or an incentive to answer questions. So if you do a good job in your essay, here’s a piece of candy. Great job. Or you got 100 percent on the test, there you go, there’s a candy bar. You see this all of the time in elementary school and the kids get so excited about it.

April: And the teachers are honestly trying to do something kind and I know that I used to have candy and I would give to my kids as a reward. I did the exact same thing. So I’m not criticizing anyone for it. I just think we need to talk about this now. I mean it’s really common when you go into a teacher’s classroom to see a big tub of Red Vines and then they’ll give those out to students as prizes. Or teachers often have a treasure box and so you’ll get a note from parents. I think they’re trying to minimize the candy there, but there is often some sugary treats and things like that and every time there is a class party, it’s mostly sugar that’s being given out as prizes. If all of the kids of that class wins a PTA drive.

Alia: Ice cream sandwiches.

April: Ice cream—yeah, something like that and so what ends up happening is our children from the time they start public school, at home with parents like I was, they’re being taught that if I’m good, then I get sugar and I think what that does, I think that carries into adulthood where then I feel like, if I’ve been good today, I can go get sugar and that’s contributing to this problem we have.

Jonathan: You hit the nail on the head there April. It’s this constant lifelong sugar equals good in a lot of ways. We also see the opposite of that, which is you can’t leave the table until you eat your vegetables. So it’s literally like you’ve beaten into your head from the day you’re born that vegetables are bad, they are punishment and sugar is good and it’s a reward and we absolutely need to reverse that. How do we reverse that? I’m going to be very geeky, sort of engineer science guy here real quick. One of the reasons that we don’t hand someone a stalk of broccoli when they’re sad to try and cheer them up is when you eat broccoli you don’t necessarily get ahead of dopamine in your brain, whereas you do when you ingest sugar or any substance that human beings abuse on the planet.
You know what else releases dopamine? Kindness. You know what else doesn’t have any side effects? Kindness. You could say I love you with an ice cream cone. You could also just say I love you, really deeply and meaningfully and I know you probably can’t do that in school because you might get in trouble, but maybe we can try to make an effort instead of saying, hey, Sally, answer the question, here’s a fun sized Snickers bar. Sally answer the question, look at Sally in the eyes, and make eye contact and say, Sally that was brilliant. Thank you. I would argue that’s going to get you more dopamine.

April: that’s a great idea and I know there are boys that have gone through Cub Scouts, they have a cheer box and so there’s different kinds of cheers inside where they’ll do the round of applause where you go in circles and they’ll do all of these really cute cheer ideas. I think that’s a great suggestion. Just something that brings fun and let’s people know that they matter, but not feeling like it always has to be sugar.
Even with parents, there’s a lot of ideas and things, oh, you get to stay up later 15 minutes than your normal bedtime and have one-on-one time with mom and dad. That could be a reward or I know I had a third grade teacher where if they had student of the week, that student got to come in on a Thursday, lunch time and eat lunch one-on-one with the teacher and just have a special lunch together. Things like that.
There’s a lot of really good ideas out there that don’t involve sugar and I think that more that parents are helping support that and the more of that educators can learn about these ideas that make their job easier and reduce the amount of sugar they had in the classroom anyway, I just think it’s a good direction to be heading.

Jonathan: One example I have from my life, which is another tool that people can put in their arsenal is we say, I’m out of ideas for little things. I can give 15 minutes here, and 15 minutes there. I love that.
One thing my mom did, was she ran out of ideas literally about little things she could give, so what she did was she did was she didn’t do little things anymore. She said, look, when you get to 15 good things, then you get a trip to the video arcade. We could also do that too.
Maybe in the classroom, maybe you only have a morale budget or whatever you call it. In the corporate world it’s called the morale budget. I bet it’s called something else in grade school. Maybe you don’t get something each time you answer a question properly, but once you get to 20, then you get something cool.

April: I love it. I think that’s an excellent idea. So we’ll keep thinking of ideas there. I think that’s great. All right. Number Six, you ready?

Alia: If budgets are tight, then eating sugar isn’t the answer.

April: So, when you talk about your Home Economics class. This is really important.

Alia: So in my Home Ec class is one of my most favorite classes in middle school and we did sewing and I got to learn how to cook and it was so fun to be with my friends and do lots of stuff that I really enjoyed. There’s one section that we learned about healthy eating. We learned about calories and calorie counting. We learned about what foods were good for our bodies and what foods we should avoid and just think about how we can be healthy later on in our adult lives.
So after we learned about all of this healthy food and how you could eat healthy and how we should eat healthy, we went in and cooked the food in the kitchen and all of the food, things like popcorn and cookies, brownies, bread, pizza, everything like that that kids really enjoyed, but weren’t really healthy for us.
So I went and asked my teacher, well, how come we’re not making the healthy foods that we’ve been learning about for so long. She said, well there wasn’t room in the budget for the healthy foods. I was like, I was an overweight 8th grader and I really want to eat healthy and there’s no room in the budget for me to learn how to make healthy foods?

April: That didn’t make sense to you and it doesn’t make sense to me and I think that of course we acknowledge that unhealthy foods, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, those things are inexpensive, and people typically like them, but I think if we really want to make changes, we need to start talking about okay, here’s the least expensive nutrient dense protein. Here’s the least expensive whole food fats if you’re on a budget.
If you have more wiggle room, here’s what you could do or here are some vegetables that you could afford. I mean helping our children learn how can I eat healthy on a budget? I think that’s one of the most critical skills that’s not being taught anywhere and I know for one, I want my children to know how to do this because I’m not going to be funding them their whole lives, they’re going to be on a budget, they’re going to be in school, but I don’t want them to ever think, well, just because I’m on a budget means that I need to fill my diet with sugar.

Jonathan: And it’s a 100 percent correct and I think there is also a lot of macro-level things that we’re starting to see change here, but I think Alia, your generation, April you and my, our generation, I think we’re all to say, there is a reason that these inSANE foods are so inexpensive.
We did things after World War II as a country to make these foods less expensive. We don’t have to do that anymore. We can vote with our dollars, we can put leaders in offices that can make it so that when you walk into McDonald’s, the salad with the chicken breast is the same or less than a Big Mac. We can do that. We have the ability in the United States of America to do that, but we’re just not.
Of course, we need to act on the grass roots level. We need to take care of our own lives. We have to take care of our children. We have to take care of our schools. But I really just want to give a call to action to everyone to say, if we really want to solve this problem, we can at a political level reverse this and we can make—it is absolutely economically possible to make SANE foods as inexpensive as what are currently in SANE foods.

April: Yeah, I think that’s inspiring. So I’ll give my suggestion for next-action, and then if you want to add anything here to close out, but I think just a next-action has to be for families to have the conversations and help educate their children and help the children become part of the solution.
If it’s just moms and dads keeping their kids in the dark about what’s good and what’s not and just saying, no, you can’t eat that or here’s what you should eat, the kids aren’t going to make the right choices, but I found that anytime I have converstions with our children about the why and really help them get educated, they’re smart and they want to move forward and make healthy choices.

Jonathan: April, I think you’ve really nailed it there. Given that why, given that context doing the whole—not just because I said so. If we can just make that transition, like you said, I think that can make all of the difference in the world.
I actually hoping that Alia—you would actually give us a little final word of wisdom here on your 16th birthday because I know you have firsthand experience with this in school. If you’ve got someone who is in the same stage of life as you are, or maybe you were, what would be the one piece of advice you want them to take away from this episode?

Alia: I think it’s just to not focus on everything you’ve learned in the past and calorie counting and the super easy foods to make that aren’t healthy and to eat way less, because that’s something I didn’t know anything about. I had no idea it was possible or encouraged to eat more of the best kind of foods.
So I think if kids just know that there is foods out there that are so good for you, they should just eat so much of, just to go for that and to not keep yourself hungry.

Jonathan: Boom…I love it and on that note everybody, remember we’ll be back soon and stay SANE.