Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Little Something To Think About

Is it OK to deny kids regular access to junk-food treats, or is it creating anxiety – making a big deal out of a normal part of American culture?

So many people pooh-pooh the idea of being more intentional when it comes to feeding their kids snacks.
            “It’s no big deal.”
            “It’s just a snack.”
            “You don’t want your kid to feel different, do you?”
            “I ate this stuff when I was a kid.”
            “There are more important things in this world to worry about.”

I could go on. 

The truth is, it does matter what we feed our kids and ourselves, even in the area of snacks, too.  Yes, everything in moderation, but unfortunately we seem to be confused as to what moderation really means.

Moderation, in my book, means “10%” (as in the 90/10 Rule - 90% of the time you should aim to eat really healthy, nutrient-dense foods that actively contribute to the building of your body; the other 10% of the time indulge).  Some people seem to think that moderation occurs every evening at 9pm, or every morning at 10:30, or every day at lunchtime…

It does matter what you eat, and for more reasons than you might imagine.  The fact that sugar and sugary foods cause our body to use up key nutrients in order to properly digest it - contributing to a host of ails like acne, insomnia and even tumor growth - while weakening our immune system, and consuming junk food takes up valuable real estate space in our stomachs that could otherwise be housing nutrient-dense foods that actually add to our health should be reasons enough to skip those "fun foods" more often than not.

Consider this study involving over 17,000 participants reported in 2009 in the British Journal of Psychiatry:  British researchers found a link between giving kids daily sweets, like candy and chocolate, and violent behavior.  The correlation between the “instant-gratification” of treats on-demand sends the message that impulsiveness pays off, possibly encouraging aggression later in life.  When comparing data on health, education, social and economic circumstances, and consumption of sweets among participants at the ages of 5 and 10 years, and then again as adults, the study revealed that 69% of participants who had consumed sweets daily as children had violent tendencies by the age of 34, compared with 42% of the participants who did not get daily sweets.  While this is not a definitive “tipping point”, this suggests that diet can influence behavior in ways that aren’t just nutrient-driven.

When we categorize foods as “healthy foods” (fruit, vegetables, whole grains) or “the good stuff” (Little Debbie’s, Happy Meals, Lunchables, Oreos, hot dogs, etc.), we send the message to our kids – as well as ourselves – that some suffering or deprivation will be going on when we resort to those healthy ones, and that the “good stuff” (ie:  treats) are things we deserve.  How one approaches something tends to strongly flavor the experience of it.

Eat purposefully.

If you would like help to create healthier meals, snacks and treats for you and your family, contact Elemental Fit to find out about our home organizing, meal planning, healthy shopping and holistic health coaching services today!

1 comment :

No Ordinary Life said...

Wonderful article and something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. Thanks for posting!