As a father of seven children (with three additional living at our home currently), food and wellness is a big issue. It is a common, daily topic of discussion. Why? I feel it’s my responsibility to help my family be well and learn lifelong habits for wellness. On the purely selfish side, it’s also just too draining to have the kids sick. It’s worth a dramatic amount to me, to do everything possible to keep them from “normal” sickness. Which is impossible to completely eradicate, but whatever we can do to minimize is worth it. I for one adore a full night’s sleep without a sick kid waking me up…
On an even greater scale, a majority of the behavior problems we are seeing in kids today can be traced back to roots in poor diet. Even kids with fairly good diets can be wholly derailed if they are consistently ingesting foods they are intolerant and have adverse reactions to.
Regarding the title of “Fat”, which as you’ll see below I borrowed from an article, the issue goes beyond this one consequence. Kid’s growing bodies are generally amazing at assimilating whatever they eat, so many active kids are not overweight, but suffering in other ways.
Any parent desires to help their child be well, on all fronts. When it comes to food however, even the best intending parent will often be found lacking. Why?
Three primary issues come to mind, with the last one being the crux:
- Money – Buying whole, fresh, organic, gluten-free food is incredibly expensive. I’d wager my wife and I spend double or more what the average family spends per person. Which means, my kids don’t go to the theater at $7 each to see a movie? No thanks…Redbox is $1.50 for us all! They don’t have the latest gadgets. They wear hand-me-downs. We haven’t gone to Disney world in…ever. New bikes and toys come from Goodwill, Craigslist and garage sales.
- Time – The time expenditure to shop (it seems like near daily) and cook each meal from scratch is significant. Making lunches for school ranks at the top of my dreaded list…thankfully most of the kids can do their own. We make mealtime prep and eating a primary family bonding time. Every day. Just as with money, other things are sacrificed to allow for this.
- Conflict – In my experience, this is number one by a long-shot. I recently came across this article, which I deemed very spot on. So much so I borrowed the title for this blog, “10 Ways You’re Making Your Child Fat”. I highly encourage you to read it, as it’s what prompted this writing. The article covers some great truths and realities I’ve experienced in my own family and so many others. What it doesn’t address is why all those ideas are so hard to implement, so I’ll bring some issues to light. It involves words we don’t like to use with children anymore; restricting, training, discipline. Being the parent…which they aren’t equipped to do.
Let me liberally use two analogies that relate to our children, adolescents and teens – Knives and Alcohol. I’ve not met any parents who keep sharp knives within reach of small children. And if a child gets a hold of a sharp knife, any parent will immediately reprimand the child and take the knife away…while strongly letting the child know it is NOT ok to play with knives. True?
Now with older kids, lets say teens, if you have alcohol in your home, do you let them have free reign to it? Doubtful.
But with basic food, we’ve become a culture that allows kids to decide what, when and how much they’ll eat. As long as they get to choose at their low maturity levels, they’ll make poor choices and suffer for it. And we’ll suffer as well in regards to dealing with their resulting illnesses and behavior issues.
We can’t expect kids, even those that know the truth about food, to make the best choices. Few adults can do this in regards to food!
My two favorite weapons for getting kids to eat healthy?
- Don’t bring junk home. The argument for junk chips or raw nuts is easy when all there is…is nuts.
- They won’t starve. If a kid doesn’t want their salad, veggies, [insert here], fine. They can choose to go hungry. Call human services, but all seven of my kids ultimately chose to eat healthy food when their little tummies got truly hungry, and today a tray of raw veggies is devoured like candy. I’m sure they’ll be in counseling for the abuse later, but meanwhile they feel, sleep and behave well. And yes, they’d love to have mac and cheese instead of raw carrots. They aren’t saints. Neither am I, my tastebuds still get the best of me from time to time.
A touchy subject, admittedly. Anytime you talk “parenting” things get sensitive. But our kids are worth the hard issues, yes?!
To you and your wellness,
Kevin Miller – True Life Medicine