This is a guest blog post by Toby Amidor, MS RD
Recently, my 9-year old son fainted in religious school and needed to get checked out in the ER. Thank goodness he’s okay, but the food he got served bothered me to the point that I’m writing this blog post to gain some perspective and insight from my readers. As a parent and registered dietitian, I always take note of what my child is served no matter where we are. Here’s my story…
After my son got checked out in the ER and was determined to be in good health, the doctor wanted to make sure that he was able to eat and tolerate “normal” food. I’m trained as a clinical dietitian and have worked in hospitals and the ER before, so this was usual protocol. My son was starving by the time they brought his tray out (which was pre-selected for him) and I was surprised to see what was on it:
- 1 mini cheese pizza (about 6-inches)
- ½ cup apple juice
- ½ cup vanilla ice cream
- 1 pack Oreo cookies
I calculated the nutrition breakdown of the meal. Here are the numbers:
- Calories: 841
- Fat: 38 grams (58% of the daily recommended amount for an adult)
- Saturated fat: 18 grams (90% of the daily recommended amount for an adult)
- Cholesterol: 60 milligrams (20% of the daily recommended amount for an adult)
- Sodium: 1,122 milligrams (49% of the daily recommended amount for an adult)
- Carbohydrates: 104 grams (35% of the daily recommended amount for an adult)
- Fiber: 4 grams
- Sugar: 52 grams
- Protein: 24 grams
This meal was composed 40% of fat, which is above the recommended Dietary Guidelines maximum of 35%. The fat, saturated fat, and sodium high compared to the recommendations for an adult—can you imagine this was served to a 9-year old kid! In addition, much of the carbohydrates and sugar came from the juice, ice cream, and cookies. There were no whole grains, fruits or vegetables provided. What about some steamed broccoli or baby carrots on the side? Or making the pizza from whole wheat pizza crust? Many brands are very tasty these days.
When the hospital called to follow up on my experience, I explained how the staff was amazing, compassionate and caring for my son however the food was not up to par. As I’ve previously worked in hospitals and work in the food biz, I know there are healthier options to provide kids that are also tasty. I also know with the focus on preventing childhood obesity and the new MyPlate guidelines, this meal needs to be vastly improved.
LET’S DISCUSS: Have you had a similar experience or an opposite experience?