Poop Matters – Kids Should Know

Sherwood students participating in the Eat to Learn program will not hear about the link between the fiber in cucumbers, healthy poop and a smart brain.  Their principal decided it was not appropriate for morning announcements and censored the content.  Food revolution attempt stymied again by an administrator who may be doing the right thing for teachers and test scores, but the wrong thing for student learning and health.

Poop Matters – Kids Should Know
I get that hearing a lesson about poop would get kids talking and asking questions. It might even cause a classroom disruption.  Responses to curious students would eat into time for planned and required lessons. 

But, I don’t know why it makes sense for a school to pass up an opportunity to teach a very important health lesson to students. 

Do we really think that elementary students aren’t smart enough to handle information about poop, a normal bodily function, and use it to become better learners?

Do you know how many Americans suffer needlessly from constipation?  Do you know how serious health concerns can become for people who suffer from constipation for years and years?  Did you know that a real food diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables provides plenty of fiber to keep bowels moving, toxins removed and brains functioning properly?

Sherwood students won’t be learning it.  Too bad.  There would have been a captive audience of 400 students willing and ready to learn about how eating produce can keep their brains healthy by getting rid of toxins via regular bowel movements.

If you’re a Sherwood parent and want to share this important lesson with your child, here are the morning announcements for the vegetable of the week, cucumbers, as I wrote them.

Read on for an update on how Eat to Learn is changing kids eating habits in the Sherwood cafeteria.

Cucumbers Give Kids Healthy Poop and Smart Brains

Day 1  Cucumbers contain Vitamin C.  Vitamin C enters into brain cells easily. Once Vitamin C is in your brain it protects brain cells.  Vitamin C protects neurotransmitters from bad oxygen (oxidation).  Cucumbers are a defense shield for your brain.
Day 2  What happens when you forget to take out the kitchen trash?
(Pause and wait for classes to think/answer)  
It gets stinky and really gross!  If you forget to take out the kitchen trash for 5 days, you do not want to be in the kitchen.  Yucky smell! 
Cucumbers contain fiber.  Fiber is necessary to help your bowels function properly.  Bowel is a medical term for the tubes that hold the waste your body makes from the food you eat.  Your body turns food waste into poop.  When your body can’t “take out the poop” it stays in your body and gets really gross.  The waste products in your poop turn into toxins, and hurt your brain.  Your brain doesn’t want to be in your body when the poop doesn’t get taken out every day or two! 
Eat some high fiber cucumbers and keep your bowels emptied out.  All fruits and vegetables contain fiber.
Day 3  Magnesium is a mineral in cucumbers. Magnesium is needed in every cell in your body.  Magnesium helps your brain in a special way.  Magnesium helps your brain focus and pay attention. 
Day 4  Cucumbers contain Potassium.  Potassium channels are key elements which control and shape electrical activity in the brain and determine memory and learning.  To learn and remember a lot of facts, eat sliced cucumbers plain or in your salad so your can get lots of potassium to your brain.
Day 5  Sliced cucumbers are on the menu today.  Grab some on your tray and feed your brain.
Here’s the wrap on cucumbers
«   Vitamin C in cukes gives your brain a defense shield
«   Potassium in cukes makes your brain learn and remember facts.
«   Magnesium in cukes makes your brain focus and pay attention
«   Fiber in cukes helps move poop from your bowels to the toilet.  Put the toxins in the toilet, far far away from your brain!

Eat to Learn Status Update
Sherwood Elementary is in month 6 of the Eat to Learn program.  Daily morning announcements began airing in October featuring one school food produce item each week.  The goal is to link the fruits and vegetables students get in school food to learning.  My theory was that if you make fruits and vegetables relevant to kids they will eat them. 

What is more relevant to a student than brain power?  Elementary students are hooked on learning.  Why not link learning to real food and see if more goes down the hatch. 

Fruit and Vegetable consumption Before and After
Eat to Learn seems to be working.  Raw broccoli consumption on campus is up 80%.  In the fall raw broccoli was not widely accepted.  An average of 31 students, or 9% of cafeteria eaters, accepted broccoli in September 2010.   The most recent data day showed 82 students accepted broccoli, a 164% increase in broccoli acceptance.  This is a small victory, as we still have an average of 274 cafeteria eaters not accepting raw broccoli. 

I had limited data to use to compare before and after fruit vegetable consumption.  I did not receive data for each fruit and vegetable covered in the program.  I also did not get the same number of data points for each type of produce, so drawing conclusions was a less than scientific.  Here is what the data I have could show:

  • Fresh Fruit  was widely accepted by 49% of cafeteria eaters before the program.  There was a 14% increase in fresh fruit acceptability over the past six months.  However, I have only three preE2L data points and 11 postE2L data points, so that conclusion may not trustworthy.
  • Carrot sticks appeared to have wide acceptance before morning announcements began airing, and acceptance remains strong, but no significant change.  An average of 135 students or 40% of cafeteria eaters accept carrot sticks as of Feb 2011.
  • “Tossed Salad” (a bit of iceberg lettuce and a tomato slice) actually saw a decrease in acceptability (40%) over the data period, but the food service folks tell me that’s probably due to poor lettuce quality in the winter months due to freezing temps.  Kids don’t eat brown lettuce. Or boring salads with low quality tomato slices barely fit for hiding under a sandwich bun.  Big surprise.  
  • Cooked broccoli also seems to show an increase (26%) but I don’t have before data, and with only two data points, I’m not sure how valid the conclusion is.
  • Mixed Fruit (aka fruit cocktail in lite syrup) showed an increase (26%) but again, only 2 data points and neither were from before Eat to Learn launched.

My Question To Teachers
I have a question for teachers (past and present). If your school had a nutrition education program that talked about healthy poop, and your elementary students got curious and asked a bunch of questions all day, even into the next week about vegetables, fiber, poop and healthy brains, would you feel put out?  Would you feel like valuable classroom time was wasted on an unnecessary health lesson?  Would you feel overburdened by having to discuss something with your students that is the health teacher’s job, the nurses job, or the parents job?  I’m truly interested in hearing from teachers who support and oppose nutrition education in the classroom.

My Question to Parents
Would you be put out if your child spent some time learning about how to improve their brain function by eating fruits and vegetables during their school day?  Or, in other words, do you mind if your child has 10 less minutes for reading, writing and test preparation in order to get some nutrition and health education in the classroom?

See you in the comments!

9 thoughts on “Poop Matters – Kids Should Know

  1. If we teach our kids sex ed, they need nutrition ed too!! I'm a teacher (high school) and parent (elementary). I'm sick and tired of teaching to the test. There's more to life then reading and math! (I teach English, BTW) This is important, relevant information and we our doing our kids a great disservice to gloss over it. That said, it's not difficult to incorporate nutrition information into state standards. My students read Chew on This as non-fiction. They understand how to take notes and process informative writing, identify a bias, and how fast food affects their bodies.

  2. K – hilarious! no judgement here, i make typos and writing errors all the time that get published.

    thank you for using nutrition education as content for your students learn informative writing, bias id and drawing conclusions. i hope more teachers use what discretion they have over content to teach important lessons about how food fuels our body!

  3. From a teacher's perspective, I do agree that talking about poop on the announcements would be a distraction. My third graders could probably handle it, but you get a room full of 20+ first graders and mention the word 'poop' and it will take minutes to get them quiet again, thus ruining the entire purpose of the announcement. You also cannot expect a teacher to immediately begin a discussion on the topic right after announcements, as many class schedules are somewhat scheduled for you (example-third graders MUST have 120 minutes of uninterrupted literacy time and one of our reading intervention programs begins RIGHT after the announcements).

    With that said I think the entire discussion of nutrition and healthy poop is important and would be great during a time that is appropriate. :)

  4. From a parents perspective I don't think mine will count I have had a daugther that has been constipated more then 1/2 of her life she is only 5. I pray for a BM every week. Before we went GF we were lucky to get a BM 2 maybe 3 times a Month and she never passed gas. Now we up to 3 days a week having a BM and sometimes multiple times a day and she passes gas now. Its something that I speak so openly about now that we have been on the prayer list of our ladies bible study for over a year now. Poop is so very important and I don't ahne any issues talking about it.

  5. thanks Ariel, I was hoping i'd get a teacher in the trenches to chime in. it's pretty sad that the school day is so structured that teachers can't take advantage of “teachable moments” the poop dialog could be part of the “uninterrupted literacy time” depending on what literacy concept is being studied, a teacher could direct students to write down questions they have about the announcements, or summarize what they heard on the announcements, or write a letter to their parent teaching them about poop/fiber, etc.

    what i'm saying is, if kids are interested in a topic, why not use the topic they can't stop thinking about to practice whatever literacy topic is in the lesson plan for that day?

  6. Pingback: Happy August - The Great Links of August | Food With Kid AppealFood With Kid Appeal

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