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It’s not too late to get your health and body back, not to mention your kids’.

January 17, 2012

Every month I receive a complimentary copy of Aquarius magazine on my doorstep. The last time Aquarius got me thinking and blogging I spilled the contents of my heart in my post about blogging. This time they’ve got me thinking again. Should parents put their kids on a diet? There were arguments for and against this. As you may know, I am not one to shy away from issues regarding food and how it affects children. Let me say firstly that I agreed with both arguments. To a point. In the pro corner, the writer believed that parents had a responsibility to feed their kids healthy food and that it is the parent’s responsibility to ensure that their kids are a healthy weight. I agree. In the con corner, the writer was more concerned with the negative implications of the word “diet” and the negative connotations it holds, especially with regard to eating disorders that may arise in children and young adults who are faced with food issues, especially not eating certain foods for the fear of becoming, dare I say the word…what the hell, lets call a spade a spade…fat.

I agree totally with the pro corner; it is wholly the responsibility of a parent to ensure the health and safety of their children. It is a parent’s responsibility to educate themselves about nutrition and health to ensure that their offspring are able to live healthy lives. Not only now, but also for their future. You are either setting your children up for a life  of health and vitality or one of ill health, social isolation and all the health risks associated with being overweight. How come so much effort goes into choosing the correct school, or electronic gadgets and so little effort goes into making healthier food choices? May I remind you that without good health, all the fancy education, Apple gadgets and smart phones mean nothing.

Then there is the issue of creating negative feelings about food, which may very well lead to eating disorders. According to the statistics quoted in the article this too is a very real issue. I have total understanding for this. However, I do think it is the WAY we speak about and see food that is the cause of the problem. We need to stop seeing food as something bad, something that makes you fat. Good food nourishes you and makes you strong, healthy, and able to cope with the stresses life throws at you. Bad food is bad for your health, your mood and lets face it, your looks. We need to stop buying and eating rubbish food. How come some parents wouldn’t think of buying bad quality toys, clothes, education, electronic gadgets, but they don’t even give a thought to the quality of food they feed their kids? Health, the one thing parents can gift their children which can see them in good stead throughout their lives, they fail to provide. How sad. I have to agree with the pro corner, this is simple negligence on the part of the parent.

For families to be healthier, the adults have to set the example. The adults buy the food, cook the food and the family eats. What the family eats and how a meal is prepared is completely the responsibility of the parents. Food must be seen as a health and safety issue not a reward for good behaviour. Food has very powerful social connotations. Think of family celebrations, eating out, gathering with friends and family around a feast. Nothing wrong with this, as long as the food served is whole, natural and cooked from scratch with love. This is the only way food should be eaten.

Children need to be educated about what good food is. That fruit and vegetables and whole grains, feed and nourish their bodies. That fast food, fatty food and processed food are not good for their bodies. No one gets fat by eating healthily and getting some exercise. People get fat ( of course there is always the exception to every rule…) because they (a)eat too much i.e. they take in more calories than they actually burn up through exercise and (b) eat too much of the wrong kinds of food. Creating an awareness of the role of food as something healthful and delicious is the bottom line.

It’s not too late to begin a healthy eating plan. Your health and the health of your children can be improved from today. Going on a “diet” is not an option. “Diets” don’t work. The word “Diet” has negative connotations. So, you are not going on a “Diet”. You are however going to begin taking your health, and the health of your family more seriously. With good nourishment, comes good health. With good health comes a vibrancy and a glow that you will never see on an undernourished individual. Remember that both skinny and overweight people can be under nourished.

My top tips for  turning your life and weight around are as follows:

1. Set an example for your kids by buying healthy foods and enjoying them together. Tell your kids you have decided that you have not been taking good enough care of all your health and that things are going to be improved. Don’t make a huge issue of it.

1. Go through your grocery cupboards and through out all processed and packaged foods. Ready mixed salad dressings and BBQ sauces should go. Prepare a simple salad dressing using only good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice. With no junk food in the house there will be no temptation to eat it.

2. Throw out all fizzy drinks and so called fruit juices. You can keep juices that are 100% pure juice with NOTHING ELSE added, but only consume one glass of fruit juice a day.

3. If you’re not great in the kitchen don’t worry. Check out the internet or any of a thousand cook books for great cooking ideas. Your aim should be to cook simple meals from scratch using real, fresh ingredients.

4. Begin reading ingredients labels. Don’t buy food stuff with more than 3 ingredients. Avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup, and avoid foods that contain ingredients that you do not recognise.

5. Go shopping to buy healthy whole foods. Fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses are always a great stand by, whole grains like brown rice and pasta. No processed food. No kiddie cereals. No fizzy drinks. Nothing pre packaged, apart from canned tomato, beans and tuna.

6. Have a positive attitude. Keep in mind what your aim is. It is not to lose weight. It is not to go down a dress size. It is to give yourself and your children the health you deserve. Don’t be surprised if you start losing weight in the process.

7. Last but by no means least, if you are serious about health, remove processed sugar from your life. If you seriously want to make a huge difference in your life and the lives of your children follow the advice of  Dr. Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Paediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology. Pull up a chair and together with your kids watch how Dr. Lustig explores the damaging effects of sugar on our overall health and on our weight.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2012 7:27 PM

    I can’t thank you enough for posting the link to Dr.Lustig’s lecture.It’s an eye opener.I know sugar is bad,but never knew it’s a poison till now.
    Thanks to my roots,we hardly consume processed foods except the occasional sausages my kids love and fruit drinks except 100% apple juice are never around the house.But we have been sweetening our tea and coffee with table sugar.My kids are never into cakes and cookies like other kids and lately I’ve been worried about it,specially on what to feed them as snacks.But it’s all for good,I guess.
    Thanks again,for this post.

    • January 20, 2012 3:15 PM

      You are so welcome. Glad I could be of some help. Thanks for commenting.

  2. January 20, 2012 12:40 PM

    I agree that obesity is a big problem, but I find that the emphasis on mainly weight control is wrong. Many children are still rather slim while being children, while eating all the rubbish. Parents may think, it’s OK as long as the kids are not getting fat. The damage is done any way, as the kids are malnourished and as a result, perhaps just one or two decades later. their bodies will balloon and/or fall apart. Kids should be taught the responsibility for their health as a long term or even life-long responsibility.
    But hey, who cares about diabetes etc. when you live in the here and now and convenience foods and cakes are right in front of you wherever you go.
    People get older and older these days thanks to the pharma industry. But their bodies are wrecks when they hit 50 or 60. Then they are being kept alive for another 20 to 30 years, but managing hardly more than survival in front of the TV. Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so. There will always be exceptions, but in my eyes, this is the sad lifestyle of the western world.

    • January 20, 2012 3:35 PM

      Anja, exactly right! This is why we need to change the way we talk about food. Children need to be educated about what foods are good for their bodies and that they can eat as much as they want of those, and that other “foods” are devoid of nutritional value and should be avoided or at least eaten very occasionally. We should be eating to optimise nutrition and the very foods that provide high nutritional value should be associated with enjoyment. My kids get as excited about a bowl of blueberries as they do about a piece of dark chocolate. To optimise our health, we need to eat wholesome, clean natural food that we cook ourselves. The pleasure comes not only from knowing you are preparing wholesome food with love because you care, but also from eating wholesome foods because we care enough about our bodies and the kind of future we want for ourselves and for our children. I think many people are either not interested and would rather pop a pill instead of experiencing the true freedom and happiness that comes from living a healthy life without being hung up about food. Shame really, especially when children are subjected to an unhealthy life that they do not deserve. Much of these problems in my opinion are as a result of laziness on the part of parents. Parenting is a difficult job. Parents need to understand that they are parents and role models, not their children’s friends. Sometimes as a parent you need to say no and you need to do the right thing, not the easy thing. Just my opinion….

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