What does michelle obama eat?


Let’s Move

“In the end, as First Lady, this isn’t just a policy issue for me. This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition.”

– First Lady Michelle Obama

Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Sure, this is an ambitious goal. But with your help, we can do it.

Combining comprehensive strategies with common sense, Let’s Move! is about putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years; giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices; providing healthier foods in our schools; ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food; and, helping children become more physically active.

At the launch of the initiative, President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum creating the first-ever Task Force on Childhood Obesity to conduct a review of every single program and policy relating to child nutrition and physical activity and develop a national action plan to maximize federal resources and set concrete benchmarks toward the First Lady’s national goal. The Task Force recommendations focus on the five pillars of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative:

  1. Creating a healthy start for children
  2. Empowering parents and caregivers
  3. Providing healthy food in schools
  4. Improving access to healthy, affordable foods
  5. Increasing physical activity

Everyone has a role to play in reducing childhood obesity, including parents and caregivers, elected officials from all levels of government, schools, health care professionals, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector companies. Your involvement is key to ensuring a healthy future for our children.

What are Michelle Obama’s favorite foods and dishes? Would you consider her to be a foodie?

Former FLOTUS Michelle Obama is well known for her public health campaigns, including Let’s Move! and her initiative to improve children’s health through better nutrition, with the hope that they can learn the benefits of eating healthy early on, that’ll help them grow up into healthy adults. She also planted a kitchen garden for the first time since the victory gardens of World War 2 at the White House, setting an example for healthy eating, and sustainability. Let’s see whether or not she can be considered a foodie.

(1) Her brand new book, which I hope to read:

(2) White House Kitchen Garden:

(3) Kitchen Garden:

(4) With kids at school lunch:

Michelle’s favorite food from childhood is her mom’s mac and cheese- warm, creamy, very cheesy, and delicious. It is her comfort meal. Her mom cooked dishes such as lemon chicken, roast beef, lasagna, and liver. She wasn’t a fan of liver. Then there was Friday fish fry, and they’d also have the occasional takeout pizza.

(5) Baby Michelle with parents and brother:

Well, it so happens, that Michelle quite enjoys pizza. Chicago deep dish, to be precise, especially the one from Gino’s East in Chicago (she was born and raised in Chicago after all!). Her preferred pizza is veggie pizza on wheat. Now here’s a fun fact: back in 2011, when she visited Cape Town, South Africa, she revealed that her absolute favorite food is French fries, and that she just can’t stop eating them!! Note: I couldn’t find any pictures of her eating fries, but found one where she’s eating what looks like a big lollipop (?):

(6) Lollipop:

For breakfast, she likes to eat scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, and fresh grapefruit. She also likes waffles and grits sometimes.

(7) Pushups with Ellen:

She loves to eat fresh fruit and all kinds of vegetables. Well, except for one vegetable- beets. She does not like beets. Her favorites are broccoli, snow peas, as well as frozen peas. She’ll skip pasta, but she will never skip her veggies. She also likes sweet potatoes as a side dish. She loves fresh salsas and often times she and her family love to snack on tortilla chips and fresh salsa, and guacamole. She also loves turkey chili with veggies, and guess whose recipe she follows? Her hubby, Barack Obama’s famous chili recipe! In fact, now that she’s living a “normal” life, her lunches consist of this homemade chili. She believes in keeping it simple when it comes to cooking. Her favorite weeknight meal to cook is broiled chicken legs, rice or couscous, and steamed broccoli on the side. Simple, healthy, and tasty enough.

(8) Advocating healthy eating:

She loves herself a good steak, or a rack of lamb once in a while. She usually sticks to sea food though, and loves grilled fish, as well as deep fried fish and chips. She eats dessert sometimes. She eats burgers once in a while. In fact, she has been to Five Guys a few times, and has been spotted at Shake Shack eating burger and fries.

(9) With hubby, eating burger:

She loves Spanish jamón, cheese, olives, bread, and olive oil. She thinks she can eat that “forever.” She is also quite fond of Indian food. Oh, before I forget- her favorite drink is a dirty martini with Stoli vodka or wine.

(10) Cooking Light:

Conclusion: Well, from the aforementioned foods and dishes that former First Lady Michelle Obama likes to eat, with her main focus being healthy eating, I’d like to conclude that she is a moderate foodie, who likes to eat everything in moderation, and is all for healthy nutritious eating, loves to check out restaurants, loves to travel, and she likes to indulge in decadent foods once in a while. In fact, I’d say that her hubby is a bigger foodie than her! 😉 Aparna Heroor (अपर्णा हेरूर)’s answer to What are Barack Obama’s favorite foods and dishes? Would you consider him to be a foodie?

(11) Dancing with Ellen on the Ellen show:

References and Image Citations in comment.

10 Ways Michelle Obama Promoted Physical And Mental Health As First Lady

Executive Director of Let’s Move! and Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy at The White House… Debra Eschmeyer (L) looks on as First Lady Michelle Obama (C) helps a child harvest sweet potatoes from the White House Kitchen Garden during a harvesting event at the White House in Washington, D.C. (Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

With First Lady Michelle Obama about to depart the White House after eight years, what will be her legacy? How will she rank among the pantheon of First Ladies of the United States (or FLOTUSes or perhaps FLOTUSi)? Well, first, let’s take a look at what she accomplished:

1. Brought needed attention to the childhood obesity epidemic: Yes, childhood obesity is a worldwide problem that has been growing since the 1980s and won’t be solved by one person and in just two Presidential terms. However, Michelle Obama brought a lot more attention to the epidemic and got the ball rolling with a number of important initiatives such as starting Let’s Move! in 2010 and serving as the honorary chair for the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA). These initiatives have brought together major players from the private and public sectors, academia, medicine and other areas to work together to address childhood obesity. As they say, the first (and often biggest) step in dealing with a problem is recognizing it, and the FLOTUS helped America take that step.

2. Increased access to healthier foods: Eating healthier and trying to maintain a healthy weight is a lot easier if you live in the produce aisle of a supermarket and can afford to buy what’s around you. But many people don’t and can’t. You are where you eat. When you are surrounded by candy, soda and processed foods, guess what…that is what you will eat. If you are surrounded by sauces, you will be saucy. When you can’t afford to buy healthier foods, you will buy unhealthy foods. Therefore, the FLOTUS, PHA and Let’s Move! worked with companies to improve access to healthier foods such as with Walmart to lower the price of fruits and vegetables and improve the nutritional content of their food; Darden (which owns Olive Garden and Red Lobster) to make kids’ menus healthier; and Walmart and Walgreens to expand into food deserts (neighborhoods that lack healthy food sources). PHA, along with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, got 16 of the largest food manufacturers to cut 1.5 trillion calories from their food products by 2015, a goal that they achieved three years ahead of schedule.

3. Improved food labeling: Don’t you want to know what’s in your food? The FLOTUS helped usher in the first major changes in the Nutrition Facts in over 20 years, such as finally including “added sugars” on the label, and worked with the American Beverage Association to make calorie labels clearer on drinks.

4. Redesigned school lunch programs: Did you see what kids were eating in cafeterias before Michelle Obama reached the White House in 2008? French fries, potato chips, soda? Ketchup as a vegetable? The FLOTUS was appalled and championed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, as the USDA indicates the first major changes in school meals in 15 years, to prompt schools to serve healthier foods and reduce the costs of lunches for low-income children, and Chefs Move to School to have chefs teach healthier cooking and eating to cafeteria staff and kids.

5. Promoted physical activity: The other major contributor to childhood obesity is lack of physical activity. And just like diet, kids’ surroundings dictate how much they move. Therefore, the FLOTUS and her teams sought to change the surroundings for many kids. For example, as part of the Let’s Move! Initiative, the U.S. Tennis Association built or refurbished 10,000 youth-sized tennis courts, held programs to encourage kids to play tennis and traied many more coaches to help kids learn tennis. Here’s the FLOTUS at the 2016 Project Play Summit organized by the Aspen Institute:

6. Helped Veterans: Patriotism is not just saying thank you to soldiers, chanting slogans or waving the flag. Many veterans face tough battles when they return from service, such as dealing with health problems, unemployment and homelessness. Along with Dr. Jill Biden, the FLOTUS launched Joining Forces to provide support and resources for veterans and their families.

7. Demonstrated how to handle unwarranted criticism: Has any other President and First Lady combination faced more irrelevant criticism and attacks than the Obamas? How many past Presidents have had their birthplaces questioned? How many Presidents and First Ladies have faced so many comments about their appearance, such as the “ape in heels” comment from Beverly Whaling, a mayor in West Virginia? The racist reactions to the Obamas were just sad and wasted so much time, effort and energy. But both Obamas handled such challenges with poise, remaining calm while not backing down.

8. Advocated for girls’ and women’s health, education and rights: It is very telling that there is still a need for something called the Let Girls Learn initiative, launched by President Barack Obama and the FLOTUS along with the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), as well the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The initiative aims to reduce the barriers girls around the world face to getting quality education. And here’s the FLOTUS singing her anthem “This Is for My Girls” with Missy Elliot and James Corden in a car:

9. Advanced equal rights and equal opportunities: Just by being in office, the Obamas helped get people more used to seeing people who look “different” in leadership positions. Everyone has stereotypes of what leaders should look like, and unfortunately the past, television, movies, advertising and other media and entertainment have conditioned those stereotypes. Such stereotypes then hamper those who do not fall within those stereotypes (e.g., if you are a woman or Black or Asian or disabled or gay or a nerd, etc.) As this last Presidential election demonstrated, America is very, very far from being post-racial and post-gender. But hopefully, the Obamas’ presence and their appointing more diverse staffs will help more people realize that leadership is about what’s inside and not outside.

10. Lack of major scandal: As veteran journalist Tom Brokaw, Paul Blumenthal for the Huffington Post and others have indicated, the Obamas’ term was the first since the 1970s that didn’t have a major scandal.

So with all of this, where does Michelle Obama rank in my personal all-time list of FLOTUSes? Prior to Michelle Obama, many have felt that Eleanor Roosevelt clearly deserves the top spot. Roosevelt redefined the First Lady’s role, really being the first to use the office to fight for important causes. She fought for civil rights for African Americans and Asian Americans, women’s rights and human rights when it was a lot tougher to do so. She openly disagreed with her husband, President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), on some of his policies such as forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps. As FDR progressed though his four terms as President, which overlapped heavily with World War II, she assumed many of his responsibilities such as making many public appearances.

Given the time, the circumstances and her accomplishments, Eleanor Roosevelt should continue to hold the top spot. Since Roosevelt dramatically changed the First Lady role, her predecessors were more limited in their potential impact. Therefore, to round out the rest of the Top Three let’s focus on the most active First Ladies who came after Roosevelt. Jacqueline Kennedy was an icon of style and a patron of the arts but didn’t have too much time to make an impact due to the unfortunate assassination of President Kennedy. Lady Bird Johnson’s main causes were battling poverty (e.g., the Head Start Program) and improving the appearance of our environment (e.g., planting trees and flowers in Washington, D.C. and pushing the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 that limited billboards and junk yards along interstate highways). Betty Ford lobbied for the Equal Rights Amendment and other women’s rights, helped raise breast cancer awareness, parlayed her own struggles with alcohol and pain medication addiction into establishing the famous Betty Ford Center, and, most importantly, was very good at the disco move “The Bump.” However, her term was also fairly short as President Ford served for fewer than 3 years.

During her four-year term, Rosalynn Carter’s major efforts were around improving mental health, serving as honorary chair on the Active Honorary Chair President’s Commission on Mental Health and propelling the drafting and eventually passing of the Mental Health Systems Bill. She also created a task force to review federal programs for older adults and lobbied for passage of the Age Discrimination Act and helped the White House to become more frugal. Nancy Reagan’s main efforts were against drug abuse such as the “Just Say No” campaign and was known as the President’s “personal protector,” as described by Biography. You may have heard of Hillary Clinton. A major effort of hers was heading the Task Force on National Health Reform that ran from 1993 to 1994 but couldn’t overcome opposition to pass its plan. Of course, what she has done as a Senator and Secretary of State since being First Lady has really overshadowed her time as First Lady, and here we are focusing on the term of First Lady.

My final all-time list? Obama finishes second behind Roosevelt with Ford in third.

Michelle Obama’s 11 Diet and Fitness Secrets

Last week, the world obsessed over Paul Ryan’s extreme P90X workout, which involves intense cardio and yoga for 60 to 90 minutes a day, six days a week—and which has seen a considerable bump in interest since Ryan was chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

But on Tuesday, it was Michelle Obama who stole back the fitness spotlight. In her inaugural posts on iVillage.com, where she is guest-editing for the month, the first lady opens up about her diet and fitness routine. It’s all part of a moms-centric back-to-school push in which Obama expounds on the challenges of parenting and being healthy. From her new pearls of wisdom to old favorites, we pick the 11 best Michelle Obama diet and workout tips of all-time:

1. She Doesn’t Count Calories

When it comes to dieting, Obama says she no longer fixates on counting calories. “I try to keep my weight at a certain level,” she tells iVillage. “And I’ve found that as I get older … I don’t like to diet. I like food. I don’t like to have to worry and count every calorie … I just don’t like to live that way.” As she wrote in a column Women’s Health in 2010, “Being a healthy woman isn’t about getting on a scale or measuring your waistline—and we can’t afford to think that way. Instead, we need to start focusing on what matters—on how we feel, and how we feel about ourselves.”

2. She Works Out at the Crack of Dawn

Every day MObama gets up at around 4:30 or 5 a.m. to work out before her kids wake up and does cardio and weights. She often meets Barack at the gym. “I usually get to the gym before he does,” she says. “But he is usually there either in the middle of my workout or right at the end.”

3. She Listens to Willow Smith

Well, this is awesome: “Whip My Hair” is on her playlist, alongside J.Lo’s “Get Right.”

4. She Watches ‘SportsCenter’ as a Distraction While She Works Out

“That’s why I know so much about sports, and you start having an opinion about Tebow and Mark Sanchez,” she tells iVillage.

5. She Eats Five Meals a Day, When She’s ‘Doing What I’m Supposed to Do’

“I try to eat—when I’m being good—five meals, a breakfast, which can be like stir-fried vegetables, tofu, or oatmeal,” she said while promoting her book, American Grown: The Story of The White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. “And then I’ll have a snack, something like this or a vegetable tray or sometimes a protein shake … then lunch. This last year I’ve tried to change it so my lunch is my biggest meal … like today, I had fish and vegetables, stir-fried vegetables. And if I’m going to have a carb, like a brown rice or a potato or something, I’ll have it at lunch.”

6. She Leaves It to Her Chefs

“I give them guidelines, because I don’t have time to think about, oh, I want to have this for lunch,” she said on her book tour. “One of my favorite lunches is veggie pizza on whole-wheat bread. It’s really good, just loaded with vegetables and cheese and tomato sauce. I love that. And then, dinner is again up to the chefs. It will have a meat, a grain, vegetables, salad. If I’m trying to be lean I’ll just do a salad. And if I’m hungry I’ll add a protein on top of that.”

7. There’s Obviously An ‘Arm-Training Superset’ Somewhere in There

According to her trainer Cornell McClellan, MObama’s weightlifting and cardio sets include a rigorous arm segment that includes triceps pushdowns and hammer curls.

8. There’s Somehow Time in Her Schedule for Yoga and Pilates

“I have found that as I get older, I need to work on flexibility, because that’s where you help to avoid injuries,” she tells iVillage. “So I started doing some yoga. I’ve done Pilates before, but I have a hard time doing both, because I just don’t have the time in my schedule. But I always try to do something that really works on that flexibility leg of the fitness stool.”

9. She Pumps Iron

“You don’t have to be a weightlifter,” she says. “I know a lot of women get worried about muscle definition. But actually, I’ve been told by fitness experts that the average person will not bulk up on the weights that we can lift.”

10. She’s Packing Rubber Bands

The first lady packs a rubber band and a jump rope in her suitcase on the road. “I might do a 30-minute routine that includes a minute of jumping jacks alternating with a minute of pushups, or however many you can do, and then some sit-ups. And you keep doing that circuit again and again, and you’ll find that you’re going to build up a lot of sweat,” she says.

11. She Is Not Afraid to Tell You She Loves Her Fries

“Which is good because you can’t just have french fries around, so that’s helpful,” she says. “But if there are french fries in the vicinity, I’m done. It’s over.”

First Lady Advice

MICHELLE OBAMA may have one of the most enviable pairs of biceps in the United States, but luckily she’s prepared to share the secrets behind them. “I have a pretty well-rounded routine that incorporates cardio, some weights – but nothing heavy, nothing dramatic – and plyometrics and things like that, which is a lot of body movement,” she revealed. “Barack and I work out every day. When he isn’t travelling, that’s the first thing we do. So we spend time together in the morning. I usually get to the gym before he does.” And even when she’s travelling, Michelle manages to fit exercise into her schedule. “I bring a jump rope – a jump rope and some of those rubber bands that you can get. They’re really inexpensive. And I can usually do some rope jumping in the hotel room,” she told US website iVillage, which she is guest-editing at present. “Sometimes, if I don’t have a rope or if I don’t have space, I might do a 30-minute routine that includes a minute of jumping jacks alternating with a minute of push-ups, or however many you can do, and then some sit-ups. And you keep doing that circuit again and again.” The First Lady also revealed that healthy eating is behind her enviable physique, and that she hopes to pass on the same good habits to her children, Malia and Sasha. “Surprisingly, the best healthy habit is eating dinner together on a regular basis. I think we underestimate the importance of families sitting down around the table at a set time. And it’s hard for many families. It was hard for us until we got to the White House. Barack can at least control that part of his schedule. He can stop whatever he is doing, come home at 6.30pm.” However, you’ll be relieved to hear that she does have her vices. “Barack, his is chips and salsa and guacamole. If there are chips and salsa, he really can’t stop eating those. For me, it’s French fries, which is good because you can’t just have French fries around, so that’s helpful. But if there are French fries in the vicinity, I’m done. It’s over.”

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Michelle Obama with Barack Obama at Jason Wu 2017 Inauguration Tout

Michelle Obama has always motivated people to work out, be it when she was the first lady or now when she is an ordinary citizen like all of us. Like many of the things in life, her approach to fitness has not changed recently and she still loves working out with buddies and sharing her food with staff members. In fact, she is happier than before because she can visit a workout class without much of a trouble or unnecessary attention. Have a look at her key workout and diet secrets over here to get motivated. If the former first lady can do it, why can’t you?

Workout Secret

The latest workout secret of the qualified lawyer was hosting a boot camp. She was the host of the boot camp which involved loads of her friends who are at different fitness levels. She says that these boot camps are a reminder for her and her friends that if you want to keep taking care of others, you should take care of yourself first. The boot camp included about a dozen new and old friends of the lovely woman who were of varied ages.

Michelle Obama running outdoors

Healthy Advice for Michelle Obama Fans

If you want to stay fit like her, you should learn to work out with your friends. She advises all the people to stay fit and healthy this summer by finding some time for workouts with your buddies. If you try to be healthy together, your friendship will flourish too.

Workout Routine

The exact workout of the wife of former American President Barack Obama was shared via a video that she posted herself. It was filled with some vital exercises like jumping ropes, lifting weights, boxing, etc. and the pretty woman just breezed through it.

Love for SoulCycle

Apart from the boot camps, the Illinois-born is also relying on SoulCycle classes in DC. She was spotted attending a class twice in one week a few months back.

Diet Secrets

Obama likes to pack her own bag for lunch and eats with her staff while laughing over viral videos in her office in D.C’s West End. Her preferred lunch option is Turkey Chili.

Michelle Obama emphasizing on the benefits of drinking more water

Grueling Exercises from Michelle Obama’s Boot Camp

If you are inspired by the black-haired beauty’s boot camp idea and want to learn about the exercises she does during a boot camp, then you don’t have to wait long. Here they are:

  • Push Ups and Planks

As one might expect, Michelle doesn’t waste time in getting right to it during her boot camp. She starts off on a tough note with some serious planks and pushups.

  • Lunges

If you want a great bum, you need to add lunges to your workout routine. What’s the better time to try it than a boot camp?

Michelle Obama with her meal

  • Crunches and Sit-Ups

The lunges should be followed by some serious crunches and sit-ups that will make your core stronger and help you get some sexy abs.

  • Leg Work

The final exercise of the session should be leg lifts as they will firm your thighs and your stomach. It will also tone up your legs like never before.

Michelle Obama serving food

All in all, it can be seen that Miche was, and is going to be a reliable fitness inspiration for scores of Americans who want to be fit like her. If she can do it while being the first lady and even afterward when her schedule is quite full, you shouldn’t find many excuses that stop you from following her lead. Good luck and we hope that get started on your own fitness journey soon!

Did we miss anyone?


Michelle Obama Shared a Glimpse of Her #SelfCareSunday at the Gym

Michelle Obama is giving fans a rare sneak peek into her workout routine. The former First Lady took to Instagram on Sunday to show off her strength in a photo of her at the gym, alongside a caption encouraging followers to make self-care a priority.

Image zoom MediaNews Group/Getty Images

“It doesn’t always feel good in the moment,” she wrote below the photo, which shows her looking focused in a lunge position, holding a large medicine ball overhead. “But after the fact, I’m always glad I hit the gym.”

She then addressed her followers directly, asking: “How did you all take care of yourself on this #SelfCareSunday?”

Naturally, several of Obama’s celebrity friends were quick to comment on her post. “Yesssss,” Tess Holliday wrote, adding a prayer emoji. One Tree Hill alum Sophia Bush, on the other hand, cheered Obama on, writing: “Okaaaaay,” with several fire, clapping, and explosion emojis.

Plenty of regular folks commented too, sharing how they got their bodies moving over the weekend. “The goal is that every morning I go for a two-mile walk. I make it 6/7 days on average,” one person wrote. “Rested and Epsom salt bath after my first half marathon yesterday,” shared another user.

While Obama may not regularly share her gym sessions on the ‘Gram, she’s still been known to dedicate a lot of her free time to fitness—even when she was crazy-busy as First Lady while her husband, Barack Obama, was in office.

In an interview with NPR, Cornell McClellan, her former trainer, shared how even on the most hectic days, Obama always made exercise a priority. “One of the things that I noticed initially is that this was something that was important and that she prioritized and found a way to fit it in,” he said. “I remember that when I was working with her all those many years ago, you know, she would be in the gym sometimes at 4:30, 5 o’clock in the morning.” Talk about dedication. (Related: 8 Health Benefits of Morning Workouts)

Obama, who famously launched the Let’s Move! public health campaign in an effort to reduce childhood obesity has also been known to host bootcamp workouts with her girlfriends. The focus of the experience isn’t just about being active; it’s also about spending time together and practicing some much-needed self-care. “My girlfriends have been there for me through all kinds of life transitions over the years—including a pretty big one recently,” she shared on Instagram back in 2017. “And we’ve done our best to stay healthy together. Whether it’s a bootcamp or a walk around the neighborhood, I hope you and your crew can find some time this summer to be healthy together.” (Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care When You Have None)

More recently, during a conversation at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, Obama opened up about the importance of prioritizing your well-being as a woman, especially if you find yourself taking care of others more often than yourself. “We have to own our health. It’s one of these things that no one can take from you,” she said on stage while speaking to CBS News anchor Gayle King, according to People. “When it comes to our health as women, we are so busy giving and doing for others that we almost feel guilty to take that time out for ourselves.”

“I think for us as women, many of us, we have a hard time putting ourselves on our own priority list, let alone at the top of it,” she added. “If we don’t have our act together as women, as mothers, as grandmothers, we aren’t going to be able to get our kids on track.”

Trump Administration Rolls Back Michelle Obama’s Healthy School Lunch Push

Former first lady Michelle Obama waves alongside school children while walking down the school lunchline after getting turkey tacos at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., in January 2012 to promote new nutritional guidelines for school lunches. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Former first lady Michelle Obama waves alongside school children while walking down the school lunchline after getting turkey tacos at Parklawn Elementary School in Alexandria, Va., in January 2012 to promote new nutritional guidelines for school lunches.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 9:45 p.m.

Former first lady Michelle Obama might find some of the latest actions by the Trump administration pretty difficult to stomach.

On Monday newly minted Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced a rollback of school lunch standards championed by the former first lady, declaring at a Virginia school that the administration would “Make School Meals Great Again.”

The school nutrition standards have long been a source of controversy, making them a more likely target of the current administration.

Earlier Monday, CNN initially reported a more surprising cut — that the Trump White House would not continue the Let Girls Learn program in its current form. The initiative aims to provide educational opportunities for young women in developing countries.

However, administration officials later clarified that the program was not being axed.

“There have been no changes to the Let Girls Learn program. The Administration supports policies and programs to empower adolescent girls, including efforts to educate them through the completion of secondary school,” a State Department official told NPR. “We are committed to empowering women and girls around the world and are continuing to examine the best ways to do so.”

The former first lady launched the Let Girls Learn initiative in 2015, saying that it would tailor an approach to the problem girls face in many developing countries, including being forced into child marriages and not having appropriate bathrooms for girls who may seek to attend schools.

“You have told me that whatever obstacles these girls face — whether it’s school fees, or violence or cultural beliefs that girls simply aren’t worthy of an education — you’ve said that these problems will not be fixed from on high,” Obama told activists who pushed for the approach. “That these are community challenges that call for community solutions.”

The first lady made the initiative a priority of her husband’s final years in office, traveling in 2016 to Liberia and Morocco with her daughters, Malia and Sasha, and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto.

Promoting healthy eating and combating childhood obesity were also top priorities for Michelle Obama. Curbing the requirements that Obama pushed for, Agriculture Secretary Perdue argued on Monday that the standards led to children simply not eating the lunches.

“This announcement is the result of years of feedback from students, schools, and food service experts about the challenges they are facing in meeting the final regulations for school meals,” Perdue said in a statement. “If kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition — thus undermining the intent of the program.”

NPR’s Allison Aubrey reports that the School Nutrition Association, which represents school food administrators, has been pushing for the changes.

The affected standards involve whole grain requirements, sodium content and milk options.

The USDA will now let states grant exemptions regarding whole grain standards for the 2017-2018 school year if they’re having trouble meeting the requirements, and the agency said it will “take all necessary regulatory actions to implement a long-term solution.”

Sodium reductions set in place by the Obama administration will be postponed for at least three years to “provide schools and the school nutrition industry with the certainty and predictability they need to make appropriate plans for creating foods with the appropriate amount of sodium.”

Milk requirements would also loosen, allowing schools to serve 1 percent flavored milk.

The fight over school lunches has lasted years. Even after the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 took effect, Michelle Obama continued to have to defend its importance, as NPR’s Tamara Keith reported in 2014. In 2016 the Senate settled on a compromise that would keep most of the new standards in place, including requiring to schools to serve more fruits and vegetables along with the planned reductions in sodium and increase in whole grains.

A spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump confirmed that Mrs. Trump does plan to keep up the vegetable garden that Michelle Obama planted at the White House.

How Michelle Obama quietly changed what Americans eat

Shortly after President Obama was elected to the White House in 2008, first lady Michelle Obama divulged some sensitive, personal details: The Obama children, Malia and Sasha, were gaining weight.

In interviews and speeches, she described her worry about her family’s health and a pediatrician’s warning that her daughters’ body mass index (BMI) was creeping up.

“Even though I wasn’t exactly sure at that time what I was supposed to do with this information about my children’s BMI,” the first lady said in 2010, “I knew that I had to do something. I had to lead our family to a different way.”

That personal struggle became political. Obama has spent the bulk of her time in the White House doing something unprecedented for a “mom-in-chief”: pushing hard against childhood obesity. Today, her Let’s Move campaign is her highest-profile endeavor, far better known than her Joining Forces campaign to support service members and their families, or Let Girls Learn to advocate for girls’ education around the world.

But I have to admit something: I was skeptical of the influence Obama could have on the nation’s health.

We know obesity is disproportionately caused by overeating rather than a lack of exercise. And the first lady’s initial championing of physical activity — her pushup competitions with Ellen DeGeneres, the dance-offs with Big Bird — seemed like a charming cop-out. She’s also partnered with the very food giants that are synonymous with the problem, such as soda makers. Isn’t that like teaming up with cigarette companies to get kids to stop smoking?

The government has also often exacerbated the problem over the years, in the form of subsidies for pizza- and french fry–filled school lunches, and generally allowing the industry, and not the best available science, to guide nutrition policy.

I wasn’t confident that FLOTUS, with no legislative power, could make a dent.

Then I spoke with a dozen people who worked closely on her campaign, as well as the health and food policy researchers who studied it. (Despite repeated requests, Obama’s office did not grant an interview with the First Lady on childhood obesity — and she has demurred from discussing the details of this work with other members of the press as well.)

I learned that some of the very things that made Michelle Obama sometimes appear soft — the industry collaborations, the emphasis on exercise — were part of the shrewd strategy that made her effective. Through her leadership, the Obama administration seized on a moment when America started paying attention to food, and made fighting obesity a top priority — both symbolically and legislatively.

Obama planted a garden, waged snappy social media campaigns, and worked behind the scenes with researchers, lawmakers, heads of government departments, schools, and food giants to quietly change what Americans eat.

Even observers who previously worried about Obama’s food industry partnerships now called her advocacy “brilliant,” “unprecedented,” and a “godsend.”

“All that attention to the issue has really helped push the discussion forward,” said Kelly Brownell, a Duke University obesity researcher — and former critic.

Observers said this administration — largely because of the first lady’s focus — will have more of an impact on obesity in this country than any other in recent history. (Obama is also the only modern FLOTUS after Hillary Clinton to have a major influence on policy initiatives.)

Marion Nestle, the longtime food policy researcher who was also previously skeptical of the first lady’s approach, is now among the impressed. “This was the first time in my life someone in the White House was interested in the same kinds of issues I’m interested in,” she recently told me. “We’re going to look back in 10, 20 years and wish she were still around.”

Through the force of her leadership, FLOTUS improved school lunches

Michelle Obama eating lunch with kids in Alexandria, Virginia, January 25, 2012. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

There’s near universal agreement among obesity researchers that the fight against obesity is all but lost once people seek help from their doctor to manage their weight.

Diets and medications work for some people whose health is compromised by their weight, but they fail most. Bariatric surgeries offer hope, but they come with real risks. So experts say fighting obesity really means preventing it, long before a person becomes a patient.

Say, in schools.

As recently as 2010, researchers found that schools were commonly serving children the kinds of calorie-dense and nutrient-poor meals — pizza, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, french fries — that increase kids’ risk of obesity instead of helping them avoid weight gain.

Many low-income families rely on schools to feed their children at least one meal a day. (School lunches, and even breakfasts, are free for families with incomes that fall a certain percentage below the poverty line.) So offering kids nutritionally bankrupt meals, and driving up their risk of chronic diseases, isn’t just a nutrition problem; it’s a social justice issue, too.

Through consultation with some of the nation’s top obesity experts, Michelle Obama zeroed in on solving the school lunch problem. And that’s where the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 came in: legislation centered on cleaning up school food. Getting the act passed — and keeping it in place — became a key focus of the Let’s Move campaign.

The law required the federal government to use recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to make the National School Lunch Program more nutritious, with more whole grains, a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, and less sodium and meat.

The law also mandated that schools stop marketing the fat-, sugar-, and salt-laden snacks — the sugary beverages, the chocolate bars — in cafeterias and vending machines, and that they replace those offerings with lower-calorie and more nutritious alternatives like fruit cups and granola bars. Finally, it made it possible for schools that have high poverty rates among students to provide free breakfasts in addition to lunches, without requiring paperwork on whether individual students meet certain poverty criteria.

But the act didn’t pass easily. GOP leaders said it was emblematic of the nanny state. The School Nutrition Association — which receives funding from the food industry — argued that it would cost schools a lot of money to implement, and that kids threw out some of the fruits and vegetables the schools were required to put on their lunch trays.

This fight continues today. “Every time there’s an appropriation bill, there’s been an aggressive attempt to roll back the reforms we made,” said Sam Kass, the former White House assistant chef whom Michelle Obama hired to be a nutrition policy adviser and executive director of Let’s Move.

So how did Michelle Obama manage such a contentious change?

First, she got her husband on board with the Let’s Move campaign, and he made childhood obesity and pushing for legislation like the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act a priority for the administration. “The reason the president was pushing was this was priority,” Kass said. “So all credit goes to her on that. But the president runs the administration, so if he says, ‘This is our priority,’ it’s everyone’s job to get it done.”

New salad bars at the Montrose County school district in Colorado. Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

As Politico explained it, “The day the Let’s Move! campaign launched, the president put out an executive order creating the first-ever national task force on childhood obesity, which would be led by his Domestic Policy Council and work in tandem with the first lady’s campaign.” About a dozen federal agencies started to work on the report’s 70-plus recommendations.

That included the USDA, which administers the school lunch program.

“She had all the levers of the Obama administration at her disposal, from the White House Policy Council through to all the agencies,” said Sean McBride, a consultant to the food industry in Washington who previously worked with the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Of course, the bill went through in an era when there was already a growing awareness that Americans needed to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” as author Michael Pollan put it. Many in the health community were already talking about cleaning up the food in schools.

But while food advocates had been working on these issues for years, they say they couldn’t overcome the political hurdles until the Obama White House.

“When we were pushing through ,” said Margo Wootan, a longtime nutrition advocate and director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest who was involved with the bill, “that was the first time I actually worked closely with White House legislative staff — not only in the East Wing but in the West Wing as well.”

There were also frequent sit-downs with the USDA, schools, industry representatives, and lawmakers — talking through the content of the regulations and plotting how to fend off opposition. Obama herself, Wootan said, helped “smooth things over with some members of Congress .”

As Kass said, “The bill would not have passed without both the first lady and the president personally getting involved and making that bill pass.” (Kass also helped the First Lady build the iconic White House Kitchen Garden in 2009 — the first at the residence since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory garden.)

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids is now widely considered a landmark piece of legislation and a boon for public health. As Juliana Cohen, a nutrition professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, points out, the National School Lunch Program feeds more than 30 million children every day — and the majority come from poor families who rely on these meals for up to half their daily energy intake.

It will take years to know how much this legislation moves the needle on childhood obesity. But early measures suggest promise. According to the USDA, as of December 2015, 97 percent of US schools are now meeting the new standard. Researchers who have studied the impact of the law have been finding that kids across the country are now eating more produce and whole grains.

Obama helped clean up the $350 billion market of packaged foods

First lady Michelle Obama unveiling the new nutrition facts labels. Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

In addition to her leadership and behind-the-scenes maneuvering, the first lady managed to influence food policy by maintaining a positive public image. That involved assembling a staff around her who could carry out Let’s Move’s ambitions on her behalf.

As the symbolic figure head and leader of the campaign, “Obama stayed above the fray,” McBride said, leaving her staff, along with the Domestic Policy Council, to transmit Let’s Move’s goals to the federal agencies. “The leaders of those agencies took over and carried the ball,” he added.

Among the most prominent of her staff members was Kass. “Sam was the tactical leader, the manifestation of the first lady’s food policy goals, and generally those goals were set by the White House,” said McBride. In Kass’s own words, “My role was negotiating in the policy nitty-gritty and with the companies. Her role was to set the vision.”

Part of that vision included bringing more transparency to what’s in our packaged food. At Obama’s urging, the agency enacted one of the most dramatic overhauls to nutrition labels in decades. And last May, Obama was the one who announced the final version of new food labels, which is slated to appear on everything from sodas to candy bars, yogurts, and cereal packages starting in 2018.

The labels will finally give consumers long-sought-after information about added sugars in foods — data that health advocates had pressed the food and beverage industry to provide for decades. They’ll also list nutrition information about serving sizes in portions that more accurately reflect how much people eat.

More subtly, the new labels are expected to get companies to reformulate products to make them healthier and less sugary.

Another milestone came in June 2015, when the FDA bannedtrans fats from the food supply within three years. The policy brought the US in line with other countries that have already banned the harmful fat, including Denmark, Austria, Iceland, and Switzerland. And it came long after scientific evidence had mounted for years that these processed unsaturated fats increase the risk for heart attacks and strokes.

“The FDA made nutrition a priority ,” Wootan summed up.

Before the trans fat ban turned into a federal policy, Michelle Obama, along with Sam Kass, had already been working with companies, like Walmart, to get them to pledge to remove trans fats (along with reducing sodium and sugar) from products sold in their stores and to bring affordable, nutritious foods to food deserts by opening new stores.

Part of that collaboration with companies came through the Partnership for a Healthier America, which launched in conjunction with (but independent from) the Let’s Move campaign. In effect, the group is the outreach arm of Let’s Move and its partners include industry groups, as well as nonprofits and research institutions.

Among the partnership’s wins has been getting food companies — such as PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, and General Mills — to commit to cutting calories from the food supply. At the latest count in April, it had already removed 6.4 trillion calories (or 78 calories per person) by reformulating products and shrinking serving sizes.

Lawrence Soler, PHA president and CEO, says these gains have come as a result of a positive feedback loop that starts with Michelle Obama.

“People have responded to her message and to her as a messenger in a very real way,” Soler said. “The fact that consumers are looking at food and physical activity in a new way has transformed where industry is going. And the Industry is responding to this enhanced consumer interest in changed products, healthier alternatives, and more of a focus on health.”

The shrewd choice of promoting water instead of attacking Big Soda

First lady Michelle Obama unveils the Drink Up logo to encourage water consumption on the South Lawn of the White House in 2014. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Even with all her charisma and determination, the first lady’s close work with the food industry has also attracted criticism over the years. “If you look at the food industry players Let’s Move has been engaged with, they are some of the same players that are manufacturing products that contribute a lot of calories to the American diet,” Brownell said.

These companies need to maintain their market share while being perceived to be helpful and instructive, he added. “So critics would say the industry is using this as cover — a show of good faith — trying to make changes when they are really not doing so much.”

Early in her obesity work, Obama called on food companies to stop marketing junk food to children. But in 2011, the administration tried (and failed) to pass voluntary guidelines that would have curtailed the food industry’s ability to peddle to kids.

“The industry opposed it more vigorously than anything I’ve worked on in 20 years,” said Wootan, “even though it was voluntary. And the administration at first pushed back then gave into the industry lobbying effort.”

(Kass says there was nothing more the administration could do since the guidelines fall under the Federal Trade Commission, which the White House does not control.)

According to a Reuters investigation, the food industry responded to Obama’s focus on obesity by doubling spending on lobbying between 2010 and 2012 alone.

” is a topic where collaborating with industry isn’t going to work,” Brownell said. “Food companies desperately want to maintain their ability to market foods to children.”

On the flip side, he added, working with the food industry may have been a wise choice as another avenue through which Obama could change how we eat. “If make changes,” Brownell said, “that could affect a lot of people all at the same time.”

William Dietz, a longtime obesity researcher who helped identify the obesity epidemic in the US while at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Obama was particularly savvy in her industry collaboration. There’s plenty of scientific evidence that sugary drinks contribute to obesity, tooth decay, and diabetes, but Obama chose to promote water instead of warning parents and kids against the sweet stuff.

“She hasn’t directly attacked sugar,” Dietz added. “I think what’s made her effective is that’s she’s focused on a number of public health initiatives without demonizing any particular product.”

Former White House chef Sam Kass, pictured here with the first lady and schoolchildren, did a lot more than plant the White House garden. Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Looking back, Kass said, he sees this approach as part of Michelle Obama’s core philosophy. She wanted to both “create a space that anybody who was serious about becoming a part of the solution had a seat at the table” and move past the gridlock and finger-pointing that characterized many public health food fights.

This set Obama’s team apart from other obesity advocates, said Susan Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association.

“They decided that rather than lambasting industry or criticizing industry, they should invite companies or the private sector to participate, and I think they made it clear the bar was going to be high in terms of what legitimate participation would look like,” she noted.

Then there was the smart choice of a name. Marion Nestle noted that she used to be concerned that the slogan placed too much of an emphasis on physical activity and was too soft on the food industry.

But “Let’s Move” can be interpreted different ways, and now Nestle sees it as an important political calculation. “It’s very hard to say would have been better off taking on the food industry in a more direct way. She had no power to do that — no legislative power — and nothing but leadership to go on,” she says.

That didn’t mean she was soft on the industry, however. As Obama put it in a 2010 speech to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, kids are unhealthy, eating too much sugar and too many snacks, and those changes have come largely because of the industry. (The Grocery Manufacturers Association declined to comment for this story.)

Nestle called that early speech “extraordinary” and still wonders if the first lady knew the fierce lobbying and “near impossible circumstances” she’d be up against as she tried to steer America’s eating habits in a healthier direction.

Kass views the speech as Obama’s message to the industry that “the status quo is unacceptable, families are suffering, and in areas where the food industry was undermining public health, we are going to fight like hell to the end.”

The next White House administration should build on Obama’s legacy

Even those who are now leveling heaps of praise on the first lady acknowledge that preventing obesity will require much more fundamental shifts.

American diets on average still fall dramatically short of the minimum nutrition standards, particularly for fruit and vegetable consumption. And researchers have pointed out that if Americans actually followed the US dietary guidelines and started to eat the volume and variety of fruits and vegetables health officials recommend, we wouldn’t have nearly enough to meet consumer demand.

Javier Zarracina/Vox

Nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables are still more costly than fats, grains, and sugars, and we’re bombarded with messages to eat more junk foods and snacks. As recently as 2014, food companies spent $1.28 billion on snack food advertising — and the bulk of that went to the salty and sugary options.

The result is that while rates of childhood obesity have leveled off by some measures, they haven’t reversed. And adults are becoming more obese.

“In a perfect world, you’d try to address some of the big issues, such as marketing of food to kids and the relative costs of healthy and unhealthy foods,” Brownell said.

Javier Zarracina/Vox

Governments could do this through taxes on junk foods, bans on junk food marketing to children, and efforts to shift which crops are the subject of federal research funding and subsides away from corn and wheat — which go into processed foods — and toward fresh produce.

Tackling America’s obesity problem needs to involve more than making junk foods more healthy; it needs to make healthy food more visible and available, said Michael Moss, author of the book Salt Sugar Fat.

“As much as I’ve harped on the companies about salt, sugar, fat, reducing the salt, sugar, fat in their products — as they are now all doing — is probably not the priority for a healthier diet,” Moss said. “Adding good stuff is much harder than shrinking the bad.”

Looking back, Kass hopes people appreciate how challenging improving the food environment is. “What people don’t understand is just how hard change really is, how hard every right and every victory comes — particularly in this day and age, with Congress deadlocked and cynicism at all-time highs.”

Overcoming that cynicism — while also building on Michelle Obama’s legacy — is the challenge the next administration inherits.

Michelle Obama’s Secret’s To Weight Loss Revealed

Michelle Obama is a mum of 2, accomplished lawyer and writer, she drives initiatives that focus on obesity and education, I think we would all agree she is pretty awesome, oh also she is 52…. And looks incredible!! She is also married to some guy who is apparently pretty important?

Anyway, what are her secrets?

Exercise… every day!

So what does her routine look like and what exercises is she doing? Check it out here…

You can see that she incorporates:

Cardio → She is using skipping in the video, and look at those skipping skills!

Resistance → Weights, and those are decent weights too! You have to challenge your body!

When challenged to a push up competition on TV she smashes out 25 full press ups and could keep going……

In the interview with Ellen, she mentions that she works out for an hour and half each day. Which may have had you immediately switch off.. because, well… not many people have the time to work out for an hour and half each day.

Actually let me re-phrase that…. Everyone has the same amount of time, they just choose to spend it on other things right?

But actually she probably doesn’t need to spend that long working out. In fact you can get incredible results in just 20-30 minutes of exercise.

So if you want great arms like Michelle, or want more energy for the day, want to reduce your levels of stress, and be better able to deal with the crap that life throws at you on a day to day basis, then factor in 20 minutes of exercise each day.

I would recommend getting a variety of…

  • Resistance training → E.g. Lifting weights
  • Cardiovascular training → E.g. Boxing, running, swimming
  • Flexibility → Starting a yoga class would be great for this

Small Changes Are The Secret To Long Term Success

In an interview, she talks about how small manageable changes were the secret to her changing the nutritional and exercise habits of her family. Small changes that led to massive results in the long term. Such as reducing sugar, going outside more, increasing the levels of exercise slowly.

If you go from doing nothing, to trying to do 7 workouts a week of 1.5 hours, eating perfectly and not allowing yourself any treats… you may keep it up for a week, but very quickly it will become too hard. It’s unsustainable.

Bring in one or two things at a time, small things, and focus on getting those things to become a habit. Then bring in the next thing. Over the course of a year, you can change your whole routine and be living a healthy life.

Nutrition Is Key, But Find A Balance

Michelle admits to loving fast food, but says it’s all about finding a balance. It’s about eating healthily most of the time, but allowing yourself a piece of cake, or cheat meal here and there.

The problem is most people currently have treats daily. If you are having it everyday it’s not so much a treat as it is just part of your daily routine.

You have to fuel your body correctly, if you want energy, if you want to lose weight, if you want to reduce your stress levels it all comes down to putting the right fuel in your body.

Yes sugary foods will increase your stress levels!

A good place to start would be to implement 1 of these key guidelines over the next week:

  • Reduce the sugary foods → The most obvious ones being chocolates, sweets, deserts with every meal out, but also those foods with hidden sugars like cereal and granola.
  • Reduce levels of alcohol → If you’re someone who likes a glass (or 2) a night, set yourself a limit of 2 nights per week where you can have 1 glass each night, this way you’ll enjoy it much more and you’ll notice you’re feeling much better for it.
  • Eat more vegetables → Aim for 3 portions per day.
  • Drink between 2-4L of water a day

P.s. Whichever looks the hardest is probably the one you should really start with!

Don’t Use Weight As The Goal

Michelle Obama talks about why she doesn’t talk about weight as a measurement, she says it’s the wrong thing for people to focus on.

She recommends focusing on the things they can do to be healthy. For example, the goal should be to exercise for 30 minutes, 5 days of the week. That’s a goal you have direct control of and actually the weight will come off as a result of focusing on these other goals that you have control of. Does that make sense?

If you are focusing purely on your weight and one week your weight doesn’t go down, you can feel disappointed and put off working out. Sound familiar? But weight rarely comes off consistently and as fast as you would like it to. If you continue to challenge your body and workout for 30 mins, 5 days a week, then over time the weight will come off.

So if you want to take control of your health, have more energy, reduce your stress, maybe lose a few pounds, then take guidance from Michelle Obama and get exercise into your daily routine and fuel your body with the right nutrients to turn you into a fat burning machine.

If you’re not sure on where to even begin or would like the help on the experts, take the next step of requesting a consultation like many other women before you, and begin your transformation today.

Chris Wright

Chris Wright is the owner of Pursuit Fitness Training. He loves helping people achieve goals and inspiring them to be better. Chris has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, and completed several other challenges. Chris is definitely a dog person, but doesn’t actually have one.

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Authored by Chris Wright Posted in Blog, Fitness Tips, Health & Fitness, Nutrition, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Workouts Tagged as cardio, Exercise, Michelle Obama, Nutrition, resistance, Weight Loss, weights, workouts

Trump administration rolls back Michelle Obama’s healthy school lunch program

More sugar! More salt! More crunch!

More obesity! More diabetes! Lower test scores!

We don’t need no education, not when corporate subsidies and the difficulty of healthier new product innovation is at play.

The healthier school lunch program, championed by then-First Lady Michelle Obama, was passed in 2010. Called the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, its purpose was to offer healthier meal options as part of the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, which subsidizes meals to 32 million students a day.

The standards increased the availability of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, increased the portion sizes of fruits and vegetables offered, required the selection of a fruit or vegetable, limited the amount of calories and sodium, and removed trans fats entirely.

The hue and cry among defenders of the unhealthy, convenient status quo—the ones highlighted during celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s TV run—complained that healthier school lunches would lead to substantially more food waste because kids don’t want to eat healthy foods.

The US Department of Agriculture will publish in the Federal Register on Wednesday, Dec. 12, its new rule that gives local schools the option of creating whatever types of school breakfasts and lunches it would like.

A press release by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in cementing in the roll-back to unhealthier options actually had the headline, “Ag Secretary Perdue Moves to Make School Meals Great Again.”

In an Orwellian subtitle, it said allowing schools to include more refined carbohydrates (read: white bread), more sodium (read: more diabetes), and more sugar-sweetened flavored milk (read: more obesity) will actually “make meals healthful, appealing.”

“Children all across America deserve world-class food service – and schools are best positioned to deliver that service in their communities,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Brandon Lipps. “USDA is committed to providing the local flexibilities they need to do what they do best – serve our kids nutritious meals they want to eat.”

“They want to eat.” That’s the stated concern.

The USDA said it was taking the step to make meal planning easier for schools and to entice more children to eat healthful food. The number of students eating meals at school peaked in 2010 and has dropped by about 8 percent since: In 2010, 5.2 million students ate school lunch, but by 2017, it was 4.8 million.

“Schools want to offer food that students actually want to eat. It doesn’t do any good to serve nutritious meals if they wind up in the trashcan,” Secretary Perdue said in a statement.

So, there are 400,000 fewer school children participating in the program since the improved health standards went into effect—but still 4,800,000 students are eating better.

One concern noted by USDA Secretary Purdue was that in the Deep South, it was difficult to make grits as whole grains because the whole-grain version looked different. The Deep South is also the regarded as the part of the U.S. with the highest obesity, diabetes and overall unhealthy rates. It leads the nation in heart disease, which studies show is attributed to the “Southern diet.”

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown was critical of the new rule, saying it “deserves an ‘F.’” Brown said in a statement, “This new rule is described as an effort to give the nation’s schools more ‘flexibility’ on what foods to serve our children. But the truth is it would revoke school nutrition standards that will help kids attain better long-term health and academic success.”

“Think about why someone is okay with your kids eating crap,” said Michelle Obama. “Because here is the secret, if someone is doing that they don’t care about your kid.”

The healthier school lunch program is tied up in a lot of politics—from Southern Republican politicians who don’t want the federal government telling them what to do, to food-service giants like Schwan’s and ConAgra that make a lot of money from government contracts and might not want to be challenged by having to reformulate healthier food options.

Studies support better nutrition

Studies have been conducted since the healthier school mandate went into effect. Not surprisingly, the science supports the benefit of healthier school meals.

A study conducted during the 2013 school year in four urban Massachusetts, low-income school districts in grades 3-8 found the status quo (as ever) was more interested in their own well-being and not that of the community. Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health and other institutions found the new policy actually led to a 23 percent increase in fruit selection and a 16.2 percent increase in vegetable consumption, though taking away sugar-sweetened chocolate and strawberry milks, as well as whole milk, led to a decline from 64 percent of students drinking milk to 54 percent after the policy implementation.

“Contrary to public concerns, the new school meal standards did not lead to increases in meal waste for entrées, fruits, or vegetables in this urban, low-income population,” concluded the researchers. “This study suggests that further weakening of the new school meals standards should not be considered, as this could potentially lead to decreased fruit and vegetable selection and consumption. The improved dietary intakes will likely have important health implications for children.”

In 2017, researchers at UC-Berkeley assessed whether healthier school lunches would lead to an improvement in test scores, and found it did: 0.03 to 0.04 standard deviations higher (about 4 percentile points) on end-of-year academic tests. In addition, the researchers found that test score increases are a significant 40 percent higher for students who qualify for reduced-price or free school lunches—the ones who are most likely to eat the school lunches.

While it was too early to tell whether the long-range motivations—childhood obesity and developing healthier lifelong eating habits—was also working, the healthier school lunches did not lead to more food waste, and led to more school kids eating more fruits and vegetables, and led to higher test scores.

Which is to say, the evidence will show that it was Michelle Obama who was making America’s school children great again.

UDSA / ChooseMyPlate.govThe new food plate icon is designed to replace the USDA’s food pyramid as a symbol and guide for healthy eating.

The food pyramid has been the US Department of Agriculture’s guide to healthy eating since it was introduced in 1992. As obesity has become a bigger problem in America, the USDA felt it was time to make a change.

The USDA and First Lady Michelle Obama introduced a “food plate” as the new symbol for nutrition on Thursday. The guide, which resembles a pie chart, is sliced into four colorful wedges to illustrate the different food groups — fruits, vegetables, grains and protein — that the USDA recommends for our daily diet. A small circle to the right is intended to resemble a glass of milk for our dairy intake.

The icon, simply called “MyPlate,” is intended to show what Americans should eat for a healthy meal in a less confusing manner than the long-recognized food pyramid.

A new website, ChooseMyPlate.gov, encourages Americans to avoid oversized portions and balance their calories. The most important foods to increase are fruits and vegetables, which should be half the plate, and grains, half of which should be whole grains. The new USDA site also suggests switching to fat-free milk and reducing sodium and sugar intake.

The new nutrition guide goes hand-in-hand with Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to reduce childhood obesity in the United States. “Today is an enormous step in right direction and shows that all of us care about our nation’s health and we can make a difference,” the First Lady said.

  • The new “Choose My Plate” icon also comes with seven tips to eat healthier:
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains
  • Vary your veggies,
  • Focus on fruit
  • Eat calcium rich foods
  • Go lean with protein
  • Balance food and physical activity.
  • Keep food safe to eat

Obama offered compassion to how difficult it can be to follow all the guidelines, adding “When Moms and Dads come home from work, we’re a chef, referee and cleaning crew. It’s tough to be a nutritionist too!”

According to Forbes, the expensive new campaign has already cost the USDA more than $2 million. However, CNN points out that obesity-related health problems such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes — which are leading causes of death — cost an estimated $270 billion annually in health care costs.

” Yahoo! Health: USDA food pyramid is out, food plate is in
” USA Today: Government replaces food guide pyramid with a plate

First Lady Michelle Obama Announces New Effort to Make Healthier, MyPlate Recipes Easy to Find and Share

America’s Largest Media Companies Are Compiling and Promoting Thousands of Recipes that Align with USDA’s Guidance for Healthier Eating

WASHINGTON, DC –Today, five of America’s largest media companies, as well as Pinterest, announced a new collaboration in support of Let’s Move! to make it easier for their millions of online visitors to put nutritious meals on the table every day. Condé Nast, Hearst Magazines, Meredith, Food Network and Time, Inc. in collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier America and USDA’s MyPlate have identified thousands of nutritious recipes that meet the guidance that supports USDA’s MyPlate, and are labeling, compiling and promoting these recipes on their most popular cooking websites, which collectively garnered 150 million views in January alone. More than 3,000 recipes have been identified across 18 websites, and today nearly 1,000 of these recipes have been collected on a new Pinterest pageassociated with the effort, providing a one-stop-shop where parents, beginner home cooks and even the most experienced chefs can find and share healthier recipes.
“As a mom, I know how challenging it can be to think of new meal ideas that your kids will like and that will be good for them,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “This partnership takes the guess work out of finding healthier recipes and gives parents the information and the tools they need to make healthy choices for their families every day.”
Below is a list of publications participating in this collaborative effort:
• Allrecipes.com
• Better Homes & Gardens
• CookingLight.com
• CountryLiving.com
• Delish.com
• DiabeticlivingOnline.com
• EatingWell.com
• Epicurious.com
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June 2, 2011— — The food pyramid that represented a healthy diet for almost 20 years now gives way to a food plate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today.

First lady Michelle Obama, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack unveiled the new icon. It’s called MyPlate, and it has four colored sections representing fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Next to the plate is a smaller circle representing dairy products.

“MyPlate is a truly simple, powerful visual cue to help people adopt healthy eating habits at meal times,” said Vilsack.

On MyPlate’s website, the USDA emphasizes several important nutrition messages: eat smaller portions, make at least half the plate fruits and vegetables and avoid sugary drinks.

Nutrition experts believe a plate is a good choice.

“It answers the simple question, ‘What should my plate look like at any given meal?'” said Baltimore nutritionist Monica Reinagel, author of “Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet.”

The original pyramid was released in 1992 and included the four food groups stacked in the shape of a pyramid with the number of recommended servings a person should eat from each group in a day. The widest part of the pyramid shows the foods that should make up most of the diet — breads, cereals and grains. Fats occupy the top of the pyramid.

The USDA revised the pyramid in 2005. The new symbol expanded the number of food groups to six and also included a person walking up steps on the side of the pyramid to emphasize the need for exercise.

Nutrition experts are glad to see both versions of the pyramid go. They say they were complicated, and sometimes gave the wrong ideas about certain foods.

“The food pyramid has been described by many as difficult to understand and as the obesity rates would suggest, has gone largely unheeded by many,” said Martin Binks, clinical director of Binks Behavioral Health in Durham, N.C.

“The original icon was a bit misleading, e.g., all fats are bad,” said Sara Bleich, an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. “The required consumers to go online in order to maximize effectiveness of the food guide.”

USDA’s Messages On Target

Experts say the new campaign emphasizes the right points.

“The main message should be that half your plate should really be fruits and vegetables,” said Kristin Kirkpatrick, wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic.

“Fruits and vegetables are packed with fiber, essential vitamins and photochemical, which are cancer-fighting substances,” said Susan Levin, director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. Levin has worked with the USDA previously on its revised U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

The plate makes it easier for people to understand the importance of eating healthier food and also less of it.

“Portion size, even of healthy foods, plays a major role in controlling weight and reducing the risk of a number of chronic diseases,” said Marisa Moore, national spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “In counseling, I recommend using a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. Research shows that using a smaller plate — or glass — can help reduce the total calories consumed in a meal.”

The First Lady says the USDA’s new tool goes hand-in-hand with her “Let’s Move” campaign designed to reduce childhood obesity by encouraging better nutrition and exercise, and experts Americans will focus on both diet and being active.

“I almost never have a conversation with a patient or consumer without mentioning the need for physical activity, and it’s often the missing ‘nutrient’ in people’s lifestyles,” said Keith Ayoob, associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. “It’s hard to be optimally healthy without physical activity, and it can really be a game-changer in terms of what and how much you should eat.”

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