Do you eat that full sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting?
It’s Girl Scout cookie time in our area. This year I find myself in a deep internal struggle. For years I have been what is called the Cookie Manager for my daughters’ Girl Scout troops. More recently, I have become certified in Integrative Nutrition. I have spent the better part of the last year speaking against processed foods. Now enters the Girl Scout Cookie which can be described as nothing but some of the worst of processed foods. The decision sounds simple really; Do not promote the Girl Scout cookies. However, the subject is complicated. I have been a huge advocate for what the girl scouts and ultimately the cookie sales are about. The cookie sales are not about just selling cookies and making money. The whole program is built around the idea of teaching young girls to become strong confident young women. The cookie sale program not only allows them to build self esteem by developing confidence as it is an easy sale market but it teaches them life skills about money and goal setting.
I have made sure that the girls that I have had the chance to guide see the cookie program as more than a pure money making venture. In more recent years the program allows the troops to pick a charity or organization to donate cookies to as well. I emphasize each year the importance of giving to others and the importance of telling customers their options to donate to a cause. How can I shun a program that has such valuable teaching moments??
To be fair to the Little Brownie Baker Company, they have tried to put out a better product in the last few years. They have made sure the Thin Mints are completely Vegan, they have taken hydrogenated oils out of most of the cookies and this year they have introduced a Gluten-free cookie. BUT….a processed cookie is still a processed cookie. With sky rocking rates of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and so many other diseases linked to our diets the girl scouts could do with changing up the products they are using to teach the life skills in their programs. If high school bands can sell citrus fruit every year, why can’t the Girl Scouts. In fact, the Girl Scouts could do several seasonal sales; Apples in the Fall, Citrus in the Winter, berries in the Spring. The Girl Scouts could be responsible for the “healthing” of America!
Unfortunately the cold hard fact is that Americans are hooked on sugar. Cookies are an easy sell. They are an easy profit. Like any product that is a million dollar profit industry, no company or organization is going to give up their huge source of revenue without a fight. Girl Scout councils and individual troops count on the revue from the sales to fund programs and activities for the girls. Sugar=revenue.
There is evidence that processed foods and too much sugar consumption has a negative effect on the body, especially growing and developing cells. Do I think everyone should never eat a cookie again? No. Do I think we should not allow children with cancer and other diseases to eat cookies? The answer is No.
Sweet treats have always been part of every culture since ancient times. However, sweet things were just that….treats. Treats were meant to be a “sometimes food”. Treats were a special occasion food. They have become an every day staple. They have become loaded with chemicals and ingredients that have no nutritional value to our bodies.
Compare that against a fresh baked homemade cookie..fresh baked from “scratch” and not from a box or log you cut. Cookies do have sugar of course. However, when you are making cookies with real oatmeal, quality whole wheat flour, natural peanut butter and the like you are getting a product that at least started with real whole ingredients. I baked cookies about once a month. Once a month is not a bad thing. Everyday is a bad thing.
So what about those kids and adults struggling with disease? Again, a cookie or even 1 box of Girl Scout cookies as a treat is not wrong. Eating hordes of Girl Scout cookies while you are going through cancer treatment? Well, that is not a good idea. When we are sick we think comfort and foods that make us happy but unfortunately processed cookies are not what our bodies need to help heal and repair.
So what is an ok amount of Girl Scout cookies to consume? I recommend avoid eating that whole sleeve of thin mints in one sitting. I recommend serving something other than the cookies to your teen everyday after school.
Put those Girl Scout cookies in the Freezer (they freeze well!). Take 2-4 cookies out one day a week. Save them for a special occasion.
What do you do when that sweet Girl Scout come to your door? Tell her how great Scouts are and how you want to support her. Make her feel good and confident. Bottom line is we do want to support our youth organizations and encourage programs that build confident future adults. Buy a box or 2 of cookies and then offer to make a direct monetary donation to the girl scouts for those cookies you do not need to consume. Perhaps with more direct donations going to the Girl Scouts we can make the Girl Scouts and their communities HEALTHY confident young women.
What will I be doing? I will be supporting our troop by buying some cookies. Will I be eating them? No. I will let my family eat a few cookies. I might eat one Trefoil for old time sake but for me I would rather have a warm fresh baked Oatmeal Raisin cookie. More importantly I will keep educating kids and parents about importance of eating whole foods and kicking all processed foods to the curb. Add in Healthy foods to crowd out the unhealthy foods.
And when you do eat those 4 boxes of cookies you bought in one day, I will be here for you to break your sugar and cookie addiction.