As an educator, we get a lot of “free” time in the summer. I say, “free,” because it’s the time that usually gets spent taking care of things that are often neglected during the school year and working a few extra jobs to make ends meet. I spend time with students in grades 6-12 at various academic programs during the summer, and I’ve been paying much more careful attention to what’s served in the cafeteria now that I’m nutritionally literate.
Today’s dinner offerings included Herbed Fettucine with Italian Meat Sauce, Meat Lasagna, Southern Fried Catfish with Hush Puppies, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Corn on the Cob. In a previous life, I would have asked for both of the pasta dishes, taken an ample portion of the mashed potatoes, and skipped the corn entirely. In fact, this is what I saw several of the campers eating. At the far end of the line was a salad station with iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs, and some fruit cocktail that appeared to be in heavy syrup. I didn’t see any students eating salad.
Because I currently eat meal replacements with fresh fruits and vegetables, my selection was clear — salad with Walden Farms calorie-free dressing and a chocolate shake. Even though I haven’t transitioned to traditional meals, I still go through the process of deciding what would constitute a good choice. This one was a toughie… Fish is usually a good choice for the protein, but not when it’s breaded and fried. The fettuccine and lasagne dishes were both prepared with red meat and covered with cheese.
We’re encouraged to not think of food as “good” or “bad,” but to learn about the foods’ properties and make informed decisions. If I had to make a plate from this bar, I would probably go with the fettuccine and meat sauce because I would have more control over the portions and the proportions. I would certainly use the My Plate to guide me.
Today’s offering made for a challenging fantasy meal. I’m glad I have my meal replacements!