The building blocks of my child’s health

It’s just cheese and crackers?  This is, in my opinion, false advertising.  And yes I have the ability to read the food label.  But have I read the food labels and fully understood what it all meant?  No.  Should it be basic common sense to comprehend what is in your food?  I think yes.

For me, food was, “Someone is providing this food for me, I am hungry so I will eat it.”  I wasn’t thinking should I trust that the food presented to me is healthy for my body?  If habitually consumed how does this affect my body in the long term?  Instead, I would wander through the food aisles satisfying whatever my eye fancied.  Regardless of its content.  I never thought twice about food labels, the food was sold at a store so what’s the harm?

I remember my first encounter in grade school with a Health Food Freak family.  They were an affluent family, and I thought they were strange.  Their daughter invited me over for a sleep over (which for teenage girls are usually full of junk food and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.)  To my surprise they served raw nuts, seeds, raw vegetables, and tofu.  I went hungry for the night.

Or the reoccuring thought…people have been alive and thriving eating these foods for centuries and they seem to be fine???

Really?  Are American citizens healthy?

  • 2 out of 10 children are considered obese.  Despite the awareness, the number is still growing.  The biggest crisis for pediatric doctors is obesity.  We go to the doctor for all the important milestones for a child: labor and delivery, vaccinations, monthly check ups, and so on- but when do we make an appointment for our child’s health?  Isn’t a child’s diet important?

What we introduce to their bodies now is the building blocks for their future health.  I am not just addressing foods high in fat or sugar- I am addressing the components in which we don’t see.  The preservatives, pesticides, fillers,  and what all those weird named items on the food label are?  The way these foods are grown, the conditions that they are in.

It is easy to blame it on the parents or on the person. But that is not my point.  My eyes were closed to the lifestyle of whole foods.  The focus for me in the past was: to look like a model in the fashion magazine, to stick to a diet, to count my calories, to not over eat- keep up that figure.  But the focus should really be about optimal body wellness.  But what I eat adds to my overall enjoyment of this life.  If I am feeding my body junk that it can’t even process….how do I think my body will function?

  • Diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages.  8.3% of the population are diabetic.  Among U.S. residents ages 65 years and older, 10.9 million, or 26.9 percent, had diabetes in 2010.  By 1960 the Association’s Committee on Statistics estimated 1.25 million known cases of diabetes, with 72,000 cases diagnosed that year.

Why the increase?  What has changed in the American lifestyle that is bringing on these serious diseases?  I imagine comparing a 1900 Farmer who is fully self sustained and eats his own crops to a 2011 hermit who eats meals in a bag every night?  Who would be healthier?

  • Cardiovascular disease:  This was rare in the 1900’s, but for the last 50 fifty years is a leading cause of death.  At the turn of the century, the food world changed.  What was rarely indulged in was introduced to the food industry: sugar, processed white flour, and refined vegetable oils and margarine.

Sugar consumption is a major concern.  In a 1977 report by U.S. Senate Health Committee connected the dots of regular sugar consumption and heart disease, which then called for a 40% reduction in sugar consumption in the U.S.(McGovern et al, 1977) The report was the last nutrition report ever issued by the Senate (and out of print)   Great Britain research (1960’s) shows that people who eat more than 4 oz. a sugar a day are 5 times more likely to be at risk for heart disease(Yudkin, 1964).

Manufactured and processed foods are creating major havoc in our personal health, and havoc on our land.  The soil is eroding, nutrients are diminishing from the soil, energy is spent creating these foods…I am not going for the guilt trip, that is not the heart that I have.  For years I have been in the dark that food really does matter.  It is not about counting calories, it isn’t a trend, I am not a conspiracy theorist.

My brother and sister in laws did it.  They were extreme to me at the time.  They wouldn’t even use lotion. But I appreciated their privacy (it wasn’t this grand introduction that they were now “green and healthy”).  I respected their passion to do what was best for their family.  But was it something I wanted to do?  No.  I remember thinking, but I just love my Dorito’s and candy too much! Who would want to waste their time making their own mayonnaise?  A healthy lifestyle is just too tedious, and really not worth the work….

Their lifestyle change helped me question my own health.  Why would someone take this path?  I am beginning to see that there are so many connections between health and day to day choices.  I am not anywhere close to where I want my family to be: we still have food labels that I am embarrassed of and want to change.  One day at a time.  One choice at a time.

The way I see food has to change.   Keep asking questions.  To keep caring about my sons’ health-what I put into their mouths now is the building blocks of their future wellness.  I am responsible to ask questions.  I am responsible to come to reality that everyone does not have the best interests in mind: just because something is handed to me or made extremely convenient does not make it beneficial. Or worthwhile.

What if doctors demanded proper time studying nutrition in medical school?  That they were passionate about food relating to health. What if parents started asking questions, looking at labels, evaluating how different foods affect their child’s behavior or overall being? What if school systems held standards to the type of food served?  What if adults were the role model?  To travel back to a time that food did matter.



2 thoughts on “The building blocks of my child’s health

  1. I had the unfortunate experience of working in a couple factories that produced wieners and crackers. First the wieners…..the most vile looking white stuff that is constructed of the worst parts of some dead animal (a cow?) which is pressed into what we know as a hot dog. Of course, dye is used to turn it to a meat color we recognize. Second the crackers….I nearly upchucked when passing through the part of the factory that was baking something that looked like rows and rows of vanilla looking squares passing under a massive oven, of course they didn’t look the color of crackers either. I had to run to get outside in the most manly way possible!

    Excellent blog, bye the way. Well said….peewee.

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