Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanks-giving, and Other Things

We just wrapped up Thanksgiving weekend and I am in 'recovery' mode.  I stayed up much later than I usually do and I ate some things I don't normally eat.  Isn't that the way it always goes?  Even with good intentions, we usually 'over-do' in some form or fashion when in the midst of a celebratory time.  Fortunately, I compensated in other areas:  my husband and I went on a long walk on Thanksgiving morning, enjoying the mild southern temperatures and beautiful scenery at a nearby park.  The day after, we walked over a mile to our favorite coffee shop and home again, then several miles at the park, this time accompanied by our daughter, son-in-law and new grandson.  It was great to be able to be outdoors this time of year.

My daughter just gave birth a little over 3 weeks ago to my new little grandson, Ransom Asher, and you can hardly tell she's been pregnant.  She's already back in her pre-pregnancy jeans.  Throughout her pregnancy everyone remarked at how "little" she looked.  Her doctor was amazed at the fact that her hands and ankles never swelled, and she was even able to wear some of her "normal" clothes during the final months of her pregnancy.  To complete this "wonder", she gave birth to an 8 1/2 pound baby!  How did that happen?  She took care of herself throughout her pregnancy.  Sure, she had cravings, and she even indulged some of them, but she never gorged on anything with the claim she was "eating for two".  Her primary foods of choice were (and have been for quite some time) fresh fruits and vegetables, and good-quality REAL food (many processed foods contain HIGH amounts of sodium, sugars and artificial stuff your body doesn't know what to do with, so it stores it).  In her words, "'Baby weight' is nothing more than the ice cream and crap that many people eat, thinking they 'get to' because they're eating for two!"  Women do that thinking they "deserve" to eat lots of treats because of the stress of being pregnant, but once they're no longer pregnant, they've got the stress of dealing with the aftermath of these indulgences - deposited all over their bodies.  I'm thankful for the legacy of valuing good health that is passing down from generation to generation in my family.

I've been doing research for a project on childhood obesity in Tennessee and the surrounding Appalachian areas.  It's fairly depressing to interview people and read about the current condition that our nation's children find themselves in.  Some of the top "causes" for the current childhood obesity epidemic are things that happened 30 years ago that created, as one of my interviewees put it, a "perfect storm" for today's childhood obesity crisis:  mothers hitting the workforce en masse, cable TV, video games, school budget-cuts for physical education and cooking classes, increase in consumption of sugary beverages, decrease in consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and falling deeply in love with our cars, just to name a handful.  All of these things combined, molded and shaped a generation that is now dealing with the aftermath of it all.  My kids were born in the late 80's and early 90's, and theirs is a generation completely raised with these factors being commonplace in their culture.  Fortunately, I didn't follow the 'norms' of the day, and had to constantly hear from my kids, "But so-and-so's mom is letting THEM do it!"  Whatever "it" was, if it had no real health or educational benefit, I was fairly picky about allowing it.  It was tough, but because I believed in my convictions, I stood my ground MUCH more often than I "caved".

I think it's even tougher to be a parent today.  There are so many other "its" out there now.  Some parents feel hypocritical if they are stricter on their own children than their parents were on them (or than they are on themselves) in the areas of diet, physical activity and television viewing/computer time.  For others, going against a family "norm" can be scary.  I can remember getting lots of eye-rolls when I would not allow my kids to have a particular "treat" because it was "silly" to not allow a "treat"... That's not to say that there were never times my kids ate crap or watched crap on TV, we just tried to be really purposeful about the crap we indulged in, making it a "sometimes" thing, rather than an "all-the-time" thing.

Parental responsibility has a lot to do with where our kids are, in terms of their health, but there are policies and laws that could help corral the out-of-control processed food marketers and crafty USDA "recommendations" (that are nothing more than special-interest-promoting product placement manipulations... but that is for another time...) that "safe-guard" (and I use that term sarcastically) our children's school meals.  I believe that turing the tide of the health of our children, as well as the rest of us, will have to come through a multi-faceted approach - a "holistic" approach - that attempts to address this problem through a variety of avenues: governmental policy, parental responsibility, education for parents and children, community support, the "big business" food companies and even through the construction of roads and paths conducive to foot-traffic and bicycling.  All of these components must be at work in order to create a healthier world for our children and ourselves.

Knowing these things, isn't there one area you feel you could tackle?  Is there one area that you could aim to improve in your own household or family unit?  Think of the legacy you could be building.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Great blog. Thanks for sticking to your principles.