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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Is It Ever Too Late to Eat Healthy?

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Do you feed your children healthy food?  As my idea of healthy has become more sharply honed, I find it hard to get my kids, who are teens, to happily go along (don’t even get me started about the husband).  Over the past couple years we have eliminated  HFCS, GMO’s, feed lot grown meat, we raise our own chickens for meat and eggs and rabbits for meat, we have a large organic garden and I buy as much organic as I can.  For my kids it’s really a constant battle.  The first battle is they want to eat what their friends eat.  They want the newest advertised cereal, white bread  and fruit drinks, and when I don’t get it, they feel deprived.  When they get some of their own money, that is what they spend it on. They are old enough now that they are out and about with friends, and I can’t be there to direct every purchase.  The second battle I face is advertising, and inflated food claims.  How many of us fall into the trap of clever advertising claims? All natural!  With antioxidants! Full day serving of vitamin C!  Are we really fooled by this?  Well, apparently a staggering number of us, in fact, are. 

Kids are getting adult onset diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, PCOS, metabolic syndrome.  Should we be putting 8 year olds on cholesterol or blood pressure medications? Something has got to change.  That change has to start with us, the parent. We have got to open our eyes, take off the blinders, and quit being lead around by advertisers who want to make a buck off our families by feeding us cleverly packaged “added fiber” foods.  Three are a million excuses we can make, a million excuses for why we “can’t”. “No money”, “no time”, “single mom”, “single dad”, “I have a job”, “but all she’ll eat is chicken tenders and french fries”, “but he won’t eat vegetables”, “the only way he’ll drink milk is if it’s chocolate” , “I never learned how to cook”. OF COURSE given the chance your 3 year old will choose cleverly engineered crap over real food.  That’s the cleverly engineered part; they are made to be irresistible, even addictive.  OF COURSE your 6 year old would choose sugary sweet drinks instead of water or plain milk.  Why do we let our children dictate what we feed them?  Who gave them that crap in the first place? Who CONTINUES to give them that crap, just because they are insanely worried that their child will starve to death if they miss a meal.  When your kid totes a Sippy cup full of  “vitamin D fortified” chocolate milk and “100% real juice with a full day of vitamin C”, 24/7 who even needs to eat real food?  They can hold out forever for their “real white meat chicken” breaded, deep fried, chicken tenders.  
I know at, at school, my kids sometimes trade their healthy food I pack for chips.  I know they make choices I’d rather they not when they are out.  I know we made big mistakes when they were younger, falling into the “no added sugar” traps.  If we only fed them only real food from the beginning, would it be so hard now?  Would they still feel deprived? I don’t know, because I really only started making huge changes to our diet a few years ago.  Maybe it’s too late for them? Maybe they will go back to eating packaged crap with false claims when they move out? Maybe, but I had a little hope this past weekend.  When my oldest, who lives on his own, raided my fridge for fresh organic vegetables and homegrown eggs when he was visiting, and when I overheard my younger two talking about what foods they were going to buy for themselves when they are adults and move out.  What was the top of my daughter’s wish list? Orange juice.  I still would prefer she eat the fruit with it’s naturally added fiber, but maybe, just maybe, “100% real juice with a full day of vitamin C”, isn’t the worst thing she could get.  Maybe, just maybe, all this hard work is not for nothing, and my kids will take these healthy eating lessons into their adult lives. 
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1 comment:

  1. I'm so with you on this! My poor daughter knows more at 8 1/2 yrs old then most adults because I over inform her while we are grocery shopping. Sometimes I secretly hope other parents hear me explaining why she can't have the "whole grain cereal" with loads of sugar and dies.