Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Alberta's Ministry of Health recommends post meal cheese to prevent cavities?!

Christine, a blog reader and bariatric nurse from Alberta, sent me an email last week tipping me off to Alberta's The Amazing Little Cookbook.

The book, published by the "Healthy U" arm of Alberta's Ministry of Health, is a cookbook meant for children that aims to teach them how to cook healthy meals.

So what's my proverbial beef?

Simple. The recipes represent lowest common denominator nutrition. Nary a whole grain to be found. White bread, white flour, added salt, processed cheese, instant oatmeal, processed meats, bouillon cubes, tortilla chips, white pastas, oodles of juices, oodles of store bought sauces, gobs of ice cream and squeezes of fudge sauce.

And it wasn't just the recipes that got to me.

Smattered throughout the book are tidbits of "helpful" information.

Here are a few that caught my eye,
"Try not to portray food as "good" or "bad." Encourage a healthy attitude towards food — all foods in moderation can be part of a healthy diet."

"Chocolate milk is just as nutritious as white. It has no more sugar than unsweetened orange juice - and kids think it’s a treat. Only you need to know its good for them too!"

"A cheesy smile is a good smile! Eating a piece of cheese after a meal or snack may actually prevent cavities because it helps protect against tooth decay."
Yes, Alberta's Ministry of Health in a cookbook specifically commissioned to help teach healthy eating to children teaches kids that there's no such thing as a bad food, that chocolate milk's a great choice and that eating cheese after a meal prevents cavities.

Hmm, those messages sure sound like Big Dairy messages.

And hey, when you look closer you find that of the 59 recipes, 49 include dairy products.

So colour me not surprised when I reached the end of the book to find the "Special Thanks" given to the Dairy Council of Alberta on the last page.

What an incredible waste of an opportunity to teach kids the joys of healthy cooking with whole fresh ingredients and provide some useful nutritional guidance. Instead Alberta's Ministry of Health has allowed their province's Dairy Council to put out a cookbook where the recipes basically scream out nutritional surrender; where they encourage child readers to grow themselves out of junk food; where they explicitly tell kids there's no such thing as junk food; where milk, even chocolate milk is magic; and where rather than make the crazy recommendation that kids brush their teeth after meals to prevent calories, advises them to eat cheese.

Brilliant work Alberta.