Strike fried and high-fat foods

Schools restrict deep-fried foods and unhealthy fats

Cayman Islands Health Services
Authority community dietician and nutritionist Bethany Smith prepared new food
provisions that were introduced to the Cayman Islands public schools for the
2010-11 school year.

The measure was introduced by the
HSA to teach young people how to adopt and maintain a healthy, active
lifestyle.

This year’s school menus include
balanced meals containing good sources of protein and starch, accompanied by
lots of vegetables and fruits, healthier drinks, and certain restrictions on
deep-fried and foods high in fat.

Deep-fried and high fat

The goal of the ninth food standard
of the Cayman Islands Public Schools: Standards for Food Provision is to limit
intake of total fat, especially unhealthy saturated and trans fat.
It follows a similar rationale as the third and fourth standards, which call
for low-fat dairy and lean proteins with a view toward the same fat reduction
goal.

Virtually all healthy eating and
weight management dietary guidelines will stipulate that fats and oils should
be eaten in moderation.

Fats are a rich source of calories
as they contain nine calories per gram, whereas carbohydrate and protein each
contain only four calories per gram.

Eating too much fats and oils can
easily lead to weight gain based on the abundance of calories that they
provide, especially if one does not get much physical activity.

In addition, fat and oils
contribute to dietary intakes saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats, which
should be limited to prevent heart disease and stroke.

“This food standard ensures that
schools aren’t tempted to offer these types of foods too often,” Ms Smith
said.  “And their restriction promotes
variety to help children develop a more balances palate.”

Occasionally allowed

The new school food standards allow
deep-fried food, including those flash-fried in the kitchen or in the
manufacturing process, once every two weeks, or once in a fortnight.

For example, serving deep-fried
breaded chicken or fish and french fries one day means that no other deep-fried
or high-fat food can be served for the next two weeks.  Other types of high-fat food would include
pastry-type products and pizza.

Foods such as the following all fit
into this category: french fries; potato waffles; pre-prepared, coated,
battered and breaded products like chicken nuggets and fish fingers; potato
shapes; spring rolls; battered onion rings; doughnuts; croissants; pie crusts;
and pizza.

“Fried foods have come to be known
as ‘kid-friendly’ cuisine and if you have a picky eater, you can almost always
bet they’ll eat something fried at least,” Ms Smith said.

Exceptions to this standard will
depend on the ingredients used and cooking process.

Good practice in school kitchens is
to prepare as much food as possible from fresh and avoid deep-frying.

However, when frying, according to
the allowances of the standards, clean oils that are rich in unsaturated fats
(canola, olive, sunflower, soya, or mixed vegetable oils) should be used at the
right temperature.

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