Above all else we love our kids. There is not one thing we wouldn’t do for them. However, are we missing the boat when it comes to the food we feed them?
I know, as a mom, I will spend hundreds if not thousands this year for baseball dues, club soccer fees, ninja warrior fees and more on additional activities outside sports. I do this because I want the best coaching in town. I want them to gain confidence through sports and increase their skills. I want to set my kids up to be the best player they can be, to become confident in themselves in sports.
Additionally, we all spend additional money on name brand shoes, balls, equipment and uniforms. BOY that added up quickly!
Even though our checkbook is on fire at times, it seems, I have no excuses for the investment. There is no… “oh that’s too expensive”, or “they don’t need that”, or ‘I can’t drive him all over”.. Somehow, even with those totally viable excuses, we don’t use them. We make it work!
Now let’s relate this to their health. What if we knew (which we do) that in order to create a healthy body, great functioning organs and a healthy mind, all we need to do is feed them non genetically modified (non-GMO) food, eat vegetables daily, consume pasture raised meats and eat good healthy fats? What excuses come up? Take a minute and write your excuses down. If you know the blocks/excuses we can move to the next step of removing or working around them.
Here is a common list:
Healthy food is too expensive
- My kid is picky
- I just waste food
- I am not a good cook
- I don’t have time
- I’m confused on what is healthy
Your list might be similar or completely different. It doesn’t matter what it is or isn’t, just dig deep and find what resonates with you.
“What the students will find desirable”, “are liked by the kids”, “let kids be kids, Kerri.”
These are all statements I have heard from moms and school leaders.
Have we lost our compass when it comes to feeding our kids quality nutrition? Have we focused more on having FUN food?
It seems as if we are more worried about stimulating their tastes buds and making them happy in the moment. I LOVE sugar, doritos, fruit roll ups and,dang, those blueberry poptarts! Food scientists are paid to make their companies billions by formulating food to encourage consumption. They actually study the brains of children and find out what things light up the pleasure centers in order to create foods and marketing that hijack their brains. Oh Snap!! In 2016, food companies spent $3.4 billion on youtube and facebook marketing bad foods and 509 million banner ads on kid centered TV stations. This is NOT ok! This is how my 5 year old, who has never been to McDonalds, knows that if I go there I get a toy. Nevermind the harsh and toxic chemicals that are used to preserve their foods into the next century. Brand Recognition!!
If you told me I could eat cinnamon rolls and drink vanilla lattes all day, stay thin, have muscles, think clearly, not get a chronic disease or cancer I’d say “where do I sign up?!”
What makes us different from our children…the frontal brain! This part of the brain controls impulse control, memory, how we react to the feelings of others and much more. This is not fully developed till 25 years of age. Makes you even more curious about the head trauma of young football players. Another topic for another day.
For example when our kids are going crazy, we yell “what were you thinking?”….the answer is: they weren’t. They do not have the reasoning and brain development to make rational decisions. When they are dangled with a poptart, french toast lunch, donut or any of the myriads of junk food options all they know is it tastes super good. These foods trigger the reward centers of the brain ..MORE…MORE..MORE. They can not think ….”ohh that has 20 g of sugar and that will make me crazy in class, be more tired in an hour, cause diabetes and make me gain fat around my organs.” They cannot decipher that a soda is just as toxic to their liver as a can of beer. It’s called non alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Mommy brain power activate! Just as that kid doesn’t see the risk of playing parkour next to the Grand Canyon (my 5 year old), they also don’t see the health risks of consuming chemical laden “yummy” tasting junk.
There has been a 41% increase in ADHD diagnosis in the last decade and currently ⅓ of children in the US are overweight. I remember when I was in grade school there was, maybe, that one child with weight issues. A new study came out in the New England Journal of Medicine predicting that by 2030, 1 in 2 americans will be OBESE. OBESE not just overweight!
We know that being overweight is not just a body image issue but has negative health outcomes. It also carries with it the following increase risks:
- Increased risk cardiovascular disease
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes (totally reversible/avoidable)
- Increased cancer risks
Heart disease kills 1800 Americans PER DAY! That is 75 people per hour or 1.25 people per minute. If there was a law, or person, to blame for that kind of death it would be revoked or removed immediately. These people did not wake up in their 30s, 40s, and so on with a bad heart. This was years of accumulation of poor nutrition, high stress and lifestyle choices. We now know that genetics only plays a small role in our long term health and relies more heavily on the field of epigenetics. This places the environment in the driver seat of health outcomes. This also places a lot more attention to the individual’s role in their own health. In conclusion, this makes YOU the doctor of your life and childs. We can’t rewrite our genes but we can control how and what genes get expressed.
Each item of food our kids consume is a message being sent to their internal blueprint. That message can get translated into positive health or negative health. Eventually, those negative messages add up and the symptoms start. Conversely, the positive messages can add up and quality symptoms start as well. As a functional medicine doctor I know that these symptoms are the body’s way of telling us something is up or down. I will tell you as a mom, no one knows your kid as well as you do. You see them on a daily basis, hourly when not in school. You know when they have a belly ache, when they can’t poop, when they have eczema. You notice the dark circles around their eyes and if they are having trouble sleeping. No doctor will ever know them this intimately. These are all symptoms that the body needs you to hear and see. They are not telling you, “hey mom my body is low on stimulants” or “my body needs miralax.” The body is designed to win and when we give it winning nutrients it will run and function as it should.
I am just as guilty as the next parent for buying the junk. Heck my first son started out on hotdogs and mac & cheese (and I’m not talking about Annie’s brand). I’m not even saying “don’t go out for ice cream” or “don’t dine out.” I’m saying go for that “A” in health. Make the ice cream and dining out the 10% of the time and the remaining 90% doing the best we can to make good health food choices for our kids.
As a mom I get it, they have gotta eat! Do healthy alternatives cost more? Sometimes yes, they do. I would venture to say that our children are worth the few extra bucks we would probably easily spend at the drive up coffee bar, for a new smartphone or for that fancy new purse. I would also bet that in the long haul, smart food choices would save money at dentist visits, sick call appointments, medications, counseling to control their ADHD symptoms and so on.
When you drop the poptarts (yes I have a poptart issue), organic juices, snacks packs and 100 calorie cookie packs you will have more to spend on high quality fish oil, organic strawberries, grain free cracker or a grass fed burger.
The point isn’t to be perfect or not be the “fun parent”; however, it is to be that frontal brain in keeping our children safe, healthy and happy. I can imagine our kids will not remember us robbing them of the “fun kid food” when they are 20. They may very well, however, thank us for being of perfect weight and disease free. It is our duty to keep them safe and not be polarized by the billions spent marketing to their immature brain. It almost seems unfair food companies can do this….another blog but know a change is coming.
Willing to do anything for our kids has to include fueling their health with quality nutrition. The vitamins, minerals, amino acids and materials in food are essential for every function of the body from cell repair to cell growth. Do you want them to have hotdog cells? Notice the signs at the zoo. “Don’t feed the animals, they are on a special diet”. They aren’t on a “special diet” they are eating the foods to be coherent with their genome that keep them healthy….they know if you feed them the stuff we eat they will become sick and unwell.
Remember, it is hard to break a habit. If we build habits around unhealthy foods and junk snacks, how hard will it be to change that neural programming when they are 20, 30, 40 and diagnosed with a chronic disease?
Let’s set them up for success! Give them the knowledge and power to decide later in life but decide for them NOW.
As a parent we need to be the leaders and examples to our children. Not looking at health food options as punishment but as the ultimate reward.
Be their frontal brain; their heart will thank you!