From the day they are born, there’s nothing easy about feeding a child. There’s the struggle of getting them to latch or having them take a bottle. There are the seemingly endless night feeds. There’s the mom shaming for breastfeeding in public (the horror!).
And the drama continues once they switch to solids. There’s the joy (*eye roll*) of trying to get a spoonful of mush into a wriggly baby’s mouth and desperately trying to teach them how to use a spoon themselves (this genius set totally helps!). And let’s not forget the stress of introducing allergens.
Once they finally, finally, finally can eat independently and make requests, the healthy food battle begins. And boy, are parents stuck behind the eight ball on that one. Because let’s face it, chicken nuggets and mac and cheese will always reign supreme, and the snack aisle is overrun with sugar. It’s something former First Lady Michelle Obama noticed when her daughters — Malia, 24 and Sasha, 21 — were growing up, and she was never satisfied with the options available to her family.
“When my girls were younger, no choice felt more important than the quality of the food and drinks I gave them,” she said. “I constantly found myself wishing there were more healthy options available for moms like me.”
And so the former First Lady — who spent her eight years in the White House helping kids and families become healthier — is doing something about it.
The Change She Wishes To See
Obama is looking to build on the momentum from her first lady initiatives with her latest endeavor, reminding people that the country made incredible progress during those years.
“But today, our kids continue to face a generational health crisis,” she wrote. “There’s a lot of work left to do.”
She’s come to the conclusion that if she wants to “achieve the kind of long-term change our kids deserve,” she has to change the food and beverage industry as a whole. She has to get inside the business.
“That’s exactly what I’m doing,” she wrote before announcing her national launch of a new company called PLEZi Nutrition.
“Our goal isn’t just to provide healthy drinks and snacks for kids, but to jumpstart a race to the top that will transform the entire food industry,” she said as co-founder and strategic partner. “We want to be a partner that parents can count on, lead with our values, and drive the kind of change I’ve always hoped to see.”
The First Launch
The first product consumers can expect to see is the PLEZi drink for kids ages 6-12 because, she said, sugar-sweetened beverages are a leading source of kids’ sugar intake.
“Make no mistake, water and milk are the best options for your kids,” she said. “And kids shouldn’t be regularly drinking anything other than water or milk until they’re at least 5 years old. But once kids become school-aged, drinking only water and milk isn’t a reality. Nearly two-thirds of young people are consuming sugary drinks on any given day.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees that water and milk are the best options and recommends that by ages 2-5, kids drink 1-5 cups of water and 2-2.5 cups of milk per day. They also recommend staying away from 100% fruit juice, flavored milk, caffeinated drinks, and more.
“We simply need a better option for kids and parents,” Obama continued. “That’s why PLEZi has less sugar, less sweetness, and more nutrients like fiber and potassium than you’ll find in many drinks out there. And the best part? It tastes delicious.”
“But this is about far more than a kids’ drink,” she continued. “It’s about building a healthier generation of children.”
Still Considering Her Daughters
On her first episode of her new podcast, Obama talked about how her role in her daughters’ has shifted from “mom-in-chief,” to “advisor-in-chief.” So she no longer grocery shops for them and tucks them in at night, but she does still talk to them about healthy eating and reasonable bedtimes and how those things can impact their mental health.
“Make room for your mental health,” she told listeners. “Prioritize it. Eat right. This is what I tell [my daughters]. [I ask], ‘Are you eating vegetables? Did you go to sleep? You just might need a nap.’”
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