You are what you eat: Importance of making healthy decisions begins in cafeteria, continues throughout life

McDonald’s combines speed, health
The trend of including healthier options applies to national chains like McDonald’s.
Frank Kebe, father of senior Anna Kebe, is Operations Vice President for the Heartland region for McDonald’s.
He said in the past few years, McDonald’s has introduced apple slices in Happy Meals, a variety of salads and parfaits to the traditionally meat-and-potatoes menu.
“We attempt to appeal to a number of different customers,” he said. “Some come for nutrition and some come for the convenience. And then, of course, there are people who come for a combination of the two.”
Kebe said McDonald’s implemented these changes because of an increased demand for nutritional options.
“We do a lot of research,” he said. “Not only surveys, but customer focus groups as well. For example, one of our groups is a bunch of moms that we have come in and test things. We’ll actually bring the customers in about four times a year.”

Mom influences healthy food choices
Senior Raven Brower decided to go vegetarian four years ago. She said she realized that she didn’t need to consume meat to be healthy, which was the determining factor.
“It is a lot healthier,” she said. “You can get everything you need from plants, there’s really no reason to eat animals. And, animal fat is one of the most unhealthy things for you.”
Raven said her mom, Teresa Brower, also helped her transition to vegetarianism. Her mom has been a vegetarian for more than 30 years.
“Our family never used to be very healthy, but my mom has always kind of been interested in nutrition,” Raven said. “She started doing research, reading labels and reading studies on food and stuff, so we made the transition as a family to eating healthier.”
Raven said becoming vegetarian wasn’t as difficult a transition as she expected — the hardest part was getting through her first Thanksgiving.
“I was at my grandma’s house and she is an incredible cook,” she said. “The whole house smelled delicious, so that was hard.”
Raven said her mom usually shops for fruits and vegetables at Whole Foods Market, but goes to the groceries store for most other things to keep the cost down.
“You particularly want to eat organic fruits and vegetables,” Raven said. “What the organic means is that when the fruits and vegetables are out in the fields, pesticides aren’t being sprayed on them. The foods that do have pesticides on them, you have to be sure you wash them really well, so you don’t ingest the chemicals.”

School cafeteria eliminates fryer, offers better choices
Say goodbye to deep fried cafeteria food.
At the start of this year, the cafeteria turned off its fryers for good in order to promote healthier options for students.
They replaced the fryers with special ovens that replicate the taste of fried food without the health disadvantages.
“We’re ahead of the curve with our healthy options,” cafeteria supervisor John Brown said.
Old favorites like chocolate chip cookies in the check-out lines are still available, but have fewer calories instead of the 300 they used to.
The cafeteria offers fresh produce, a salad bar and fruit and yogurt parfait as alternatives to traditional lunch options.
“BV is very lucky to have all the options that it does,” Brown said. “I mean, some schools you go to you’ll be lucky to find a banana lying around.”
While the cafeteria provides new healthy options, Brown said students often underestimate the amount of calories their favorite snack contains.
“The biggest health concern is Gatorade,” he said. “It’s like calories in a bottle. You might as well drink a Diet Coke, but people are drinking it like it’s a health drink.”