Diabesities: Our Young Brood’s Battle with the Bulge.

Everybody loves surprises, right?

Well, I suppose it depends upon the kind of surprise. The Hey, you just won a year’s worth of dental hygiene! could be nice. A Mom, I passed physics! is pretty worthy. And Your book is going to be made into a movie! is a phone call I am so hoping will come one day.

The surprises many of us would rather not face down the pike are:

Yep, see that there crack, ma’am? Looks like you’re gonna need a whole new foundation.

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Or: What? You’re pregnant with triplets … again?

 

And of course: Hey, honey. My mother is moving in with us. Surprise!

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Obviously these bombshell examples aren’t things we regularly have to get used to, but I’d like to make you aware of a few eye-popping truths that have become the new standard for normal around our planet.

1.) 43 million children under 5 are overweight or obese.

2.) 1/3 of kids born after the year 2000 will develop diabetes.

3.) The number one source of calories in the United States is from high fructose corn syrup.

4.)  43% of pilots admit to falling asleep during their flight. 33% of them wake to find that their co-pilot is out cold as well.

Yes, folks, the numbers are rising, just like those of the Earth’s temperature and most countries’ national debt. The stats I’m focusing on today are strictly numbers 1-3. Number 4 was thrown in simply for your armchair amusement, and your in-flight horror.

The bad news is that today’s generation of children will be the first to have a shorter lifespan that that of their parents.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

The great news is that it’s super easy to flip these numbers because the only thing standing in the way of our children’s health is our children.

Oh, and the media.

Oops, and their friends.

Yeah … and the school cafeterias.

Alright, maybe we ought to back up to the statement that simply reveals the good news bit, because once we realize what it is we’re up against, the odds for growing healthy human beings seems nearly insurmountable.

How do one or two parents launch an effective campaign for their children’s health that can stand up to billions of dollars in marketing, peer pressure and the common sense of legislation that states lunchroom pizza can be considered a vegetable because it has tomato sauce on it?

Go figure.

The food industry spends over two billion dollars a year with advertisements that target kids alone. TWO BILLION WITH A “B!”

And 98% of those ads are for foods that are high in fat, sugar and sodium—and fat, sugar and sodium are hugely addictive. They become things you can’t live without, like air and water and Facebook.

But unlike air and water and social media, those products of the food industry are nearly nutrition-less and only benefit drug companies who develop insulin related medications, Weight Watchers, and clothing manufacturers who charge by the square inch.

For those of you who are in command of stocking the fridge, I’m sure you’re familiar with the rule of thumb that one should never go grocery shopping while hungry. For those of you with children, there’s the extra add-on that one should never go grocery shopping with anyone who has learned to point and speak. With pointing and speaking comes nagging, and marketers have done studies to determine that it takes an average of “nine nags” for the typical child to convince a parent to give in and give over. Nine.

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That’s one above parental patience—where one disciplines while maintaining a princess Disney voice—and one below that combustible threshold I learned about in my daughter’s science project. Kaboom.

So while my kids were growing up, I found it was safer if they stayed home. A win win for all of us. They didn’t see the blazing, tantalizing come-hither advertisements placed directly at their eyeball level, and I didn’t get escorted out of the supermarket for hijacking the public address system, begging that anyone with a Xanax for me and duct tape for my kids would please come to aisle five for some serious cleanup.

Yep. Win win.

But this only lasts so long, because sooner than you know, the cat is out of the bag and your kids are off to school. This is where all the forces of good are overwhelmed by evil and your children declare you to be Satan.

They come home one day, slam the front door while tossing their tiny book bags to the floor and shout:

“Nobody else plants their own food!”

“None of the other kids have gone on monthly fieldtrips to local farms in order to watch dinner be chosen, slaughtered and butchered!”

“And not a one of them were told that they must study the stupid French technique of making duck confit because that helps with riding a bike!”

Oh? I say. And did you also crush their belief in all things sacred by telling them that chicken actually has bones?

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I have grown immune to their evil glares, but I refuse to ignore what’s happening to our kids and their declining health. It can be easy to shrug and wave the white flag of surrender, but I for one look awful in white and refuse to do so. I will continue to fight this worthy battle. And I’m doing it with my words.

Words are pretty powerful things. They move us, convince us, enrage us, and enlighten us. I’ve become so determined to help in the growing campaign for kids’ health that I wrote a book to tackle the subject, by tickling kids’ funny bones. I’m not sure if it will have an impact, but my fingers are crossed it will touch at least one or two folks. And if it helps one or two, that might have a ripple effect elsewhere.

But just to be clear, no one needs a book to make an impact. You just need to know you have a vote.

Folks are often surprised to remember their voice actually counts. The simplest way to do that is by deciding where your dollars, pounds and shekels will go.

And I bet the food industry will be pretty surprised to find a growing chunk of folks are fed up with the baloney they’re trying to feed our families.

It’s hard to initiate change—especially when you feel it’s a case of Muhammad and the mountain. But as I always say, if you’re going to eat an elephant, you’ve got to take it one bite at a time. And bringing better health to our kids is a battle I’d bet most of us are willing to fight.

That should come as no surprise.

~Shelley

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

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58 thoughts on “Diabesities: Our Young Brood’s Battle with the Bulge.

  1. Love this post! A topic close to my heart. We are always trying to help our sproglets make good food choices for themselves as they grow up. But sometimes you really feel up against it. I have had ‘but so and so is allowed that for lunch’. I am all like ‘sorry kid, I have never cared what anyone else does and that stuff just isn’t a healthy choice’. Also allowing some treats and balance as I don’t want them turning into teenage lolly monsters who can’t control themselves. Just don’t buy the crap, amen to that. (Could have done without the sleeping pilot statistic, just saying…) 🙂

    • I had a feeling this post would resonate with you Cheergerm, in that I see how hard you work around dietary challenges within your own family and STILL make absolutely fantastic food. I do believe this challenge is on an upward trajectory. But I wanted to share a quick story with you that might interest your kids (or not!). There’s a school here that did an experiment with a kitchen garden: two compost beds were in it filled with worms. The kids brought their food scraps and tossed into one bed and the teachers put their scraps in the other. The kids tossed in leftover candy, pizza, MacDonald’s, Froot Loops–you get the picture. The teachers put in egg shells, apple cores, banana peels–that sort of thing. Two weeks later, they pulled out the bins to look at them and saw that the candy bin was still full and the teacher’s bin was empty. The teachers posed the question to the kids: Why would you eat something worms won’t even eat?
      Sorry bout the pilot bit. Fly safe. 😛

      • Great anecdote and I will surely be sharing with the wee lads (whether they want to hear it or not….) Making the best food choices in the world of so much choice is hard even for us adults…maybe that’s part of problem. ‘When we were young’ (I swore I would never say that) there wasn’t as much choice. You walk into a shop like Target and the lead up to the checkout is bloody lolly central…Arggghhhhhh. But ever onwards and upwards!! (Just not on a plane….)

      • Good, good for you Shelley! Perhaps your book will help where parental help can’t or is absent. I truly believe with these types of things, children repeat what parents model, not what the SAY, what they DO. You can’t say to your children eat your greens if you are eating fries. Even if kids appear not to take it in, if parents are true role models, the lessons will be absorbed and will reappear at some stage. I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it happen. Bravo to you for tackling a huge elephant, one bite at a time. Love the story about the worms!! xxx

        • Thanks for your optimistic and supportive comments, Ardys! I really hope there’s a way I can lend a hand to a cause and campaign that means so much to me. And it brings me great relief to know there are folks out there who are proof positive that parental role models are still a much needed ingredient in the success of this recipe. There truly are so many components that need to fall into place for our kids, and I strongly believe the extra effort on our end will be a win/win for both sides. If we cook together and eat together, we will hopefully increase our chances of being together–healthy and happy.
          Yes, it’s a mouthful, but I hope to enjoy the eating of it with a little seasoning of humor. 🙂 ❤

  2. This is definitely a timely post, Shelley. I’m not a parent, but I make an effort to eat healthy and pay attention to the ingredients in the food I buy. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to coax children into eating more vegetables (that aren’t laden with cheese or butter). I’m vegetarian and moving back toward being vegan, but cheese and butter are hard to resist. The cards are stacked against us every time we visit the supermarket. And I think one issue that prevents a lot of people from eating healthier is the cost of healthy foods. We’re told to eat fresh and organic foods, but in these times when many of us are pinching pennies, the grocery bill quickly adds up. I recently went to a local store that has a good selection of fresh organic produce. I bought seven organic apples (they were on the smaller side, too), and they were over $10. I fear that things won’t change as long as a healthy salad costs twice as much as a fast-food cheeseburger. But you make a great point–we vote with our dollar. I don’t want to support factory farms where animals are mistreated, and I don’t want to support industries dumping a ton of antibiotics into our foods. So if I have to make a meal out of a bag of dried lentils and eat that for a week, I’ll do it. If we all just do a little bit, together we can accomplish a lot. Thanks for bringing attention to this, Shelley. Words are indeed powerful, and throughout history they have brought about great change. I’m glad you’ve shared yours here.

    • You bring up a wonderful point, Miranda, and one that concerns a great number of people. Maybe you’ve heard of a fellow by the name of Joel Salatin? He’s an “alternative” farmer in the Shenandoah Valley, a lecturer on organic food and farming, and a huge advocate for food education. Whenever folks bring up the concern of the high cost of eating healthy, he comes back with, “Have you priced the cost of cancer lately?” Now, while I think this is a catchy although dispiriting quote to pass on, I’m sure it might alienate some from going further down the road toward finding a way to support better health through food. Usually after saying that, Joel launches into any number of ways to dispel those thoughts. Buying at farmers’ markets, or straight through one of your local farms, eating only seasonal–especially what he refers to as eating “the whole inventory” (nose to tail), and obviously this would not apply to you in the animal sense, but more so on the side of ‘what does nature (and the store) have so much of they’re quite desperate to move on?’
      I have to be really careful here, because I start to sound way too preachy, and I hate when my enthusiasm toward food and health grows pious sounding. The point is, I’ve been there. I know. It is NOT EASY. And sometimes it does come down to time and money and energy.
      I admire anyone who works hard for good health. And especially people I want to stick around for a very long time.
      Thanks for always providing such great “feedback,” Miranda. Here’s to dried lentils! 😛

      • I haven’t heard of Mr. Salatin, but it sounds like he’s certainly onto something. Anyone trying to be heard over the constant noise of big corporate money deserves major respect, in my opinion.

        And I don’t think you sound preachy at all. I think you sound passionate. We need passionate voices, people who actually care about what’s going on. I know vegans get a bad rap for being self-righteous, preachy, and condescending. Some of that bad rap is deserved. I try to be vegan for ethical and environmental reasons, but my meat-eating friends and family will be the first to say that I never lecture them about their food choices. If someone wants information about factory farming conditions or the amount of water and other resources it takes to feed one beef or dairy cow, I’ll share that, but I don’t want to alienate anyone by being judgmental. I think you’re striking a perfect balance here, Shelley, and I would love to read the book you’ve penned about this topic.

        Later on today, I’ll be making a tasty vegan dish with–you guessed it–lentils! 😀

  3. I must say you picked one formidable foe to fight. Contrary to what I eat for my blog I actually eat a heart healthy diet with limited carbs. I am lucky that my kids evidently paid attention when they were young and appear to be on the right dietary track. Of course I hope the grand kids follow as well. I really think that the production of crap food stuffs is only part of the problem. The parents need to set some example for the kids. That, I think is where the dinner table comes in to play. If the children start eating decent stuff it might be easier to make it a habit. I am aware that there are several factors involved, nothing is ever that simple. But you do have to start somewhere. So good luck with your book.

    • Benson, I think you have something that a lot of folks would welcome, and that’s a view from the culinary arts perspective. I absolutely agree that parents are an integral component in illustrating good food choices, and I strongly believe that good health starts in the kitchen. Handling food is something too many folks shy away from–and this is one of the areas I tackle in the book when working with kids and food. Yes, it’s a massive challenge attempting to make an acorn squash more appealing than a laptop or an Xbox, but ultimately that is my goal. Not to obliterate technology, but integrate it into a healthier lifestyle. I think the two can coexist. Kids can cook. And they can have fun doing it, gain some beneficial skills, be fulfilled with their endeavors, and come out better for it on the other end.
      Formidable fight, indeed, but thankfully I will not be alone slaying these dragons.
      Cheers, my friend!

  4. Morning Shelley, being on holiday this is where I breathe a huge sigh of relief that we’ve already survived the only flight of our trip and that we’re going home by train – all hail the Chunnel!
    Food is always a source of stress around kids, but it goes better if you’re a cantankerous person who is more likely to say no the more you are asked, and so I told my kids. The warnings used to go out around the 4th time of being asked, when I could feel my blood pressure rising, so I’m amazed some parents manage to hold out as many as 8 times. That is truly heroic.
    It’s turned out ok, too well, in fact.
    Having taught them how to cook I’m wondering how to teach them to use fewer pans and clean up after themselves.
    On the plus side again, it has meant we’ve been able to leave the 20+ year old lads in charge of the 16 year old to get away on our own for the first time in years. Hurrah!

    • I hail a huge hurrah to you too, Laura! How lovely for you to have a holiday. And I promise to leave out the latest accumulated data on train engineers. (kidding. I’m only kidding. you’ll be fine!)
      And well done you for the bearish stance with your brood. That is one tough character trait to maintain and is rarely admired until years later. I’m speaking from personal experience–my mom and the four unruly urchins she towed around behind her. We were a formidable bunch, but we were no match for her tenacity. That woman defined grit.
      Anyway, I love the fact that your kids are cooking. And I’m laughing at the imagery of your kitchen. The rule in our house has been – if you cook it, I will clean it. I’m that determined to make cooking an enjoyable adventure, but yes, I’ve added some serious side effects that have leaked over into bedrooms and bathrooms. Ah well. You can’t win them all.
      Have a marvelous time, Laura, and make some worthy memories. (love the Chunnel) 🙂

  5. Behind you all the way having had weight issues for years, but discovered I had a severe ignorance of dietary food!
    The benefits of certain foods and understanding food groups should be something that is taught in schools.
    As for shopping?
    Sadly chicken and other meats aren’t bred in white poly trays covered in plastic.
    Low fat read higher sugar and/or salt for more money.
    Half fat read less weight for more money.
    Low sugar read more additives for more money.
    Fresh fruit and veg, more money than tinned or frozen.
    Grow your own…….. you know EXACTLY what you’re getting.
    🙂

    • I think you shined a spotlight on a lot of problems we encounter every day–ones that leave people mystified when attempting to read and interpret food labels. You really have to have a degree in chemistry to understand the great majority of what manufacturers are putting into their products. And here is where I sound the trumpets for gardens. I know it’s not easy for everyone to find space to lay down soil and bury some seeds, but all anyone needs to do is Google urban gardening ideas or jump on to Pinterest for some inspiration and you can grow overwhelmed with the options. Yep, it takes time, and patience, and a forgiving attitude, but the results can be so rewarding. And of course worthy.
      School gardens get me super pumped. Integrating biology and nutrition into school programs is an idea that’s spreading and finding some great success. Yay!
      I hope you and the captain might be able to find a few spots for a planter box or deck-side pots for tomatoes? But that’s a ways off, isn’t it? You’ve got to get yourselves through your first watery winter. 🙂

      • We’re not allowed to have anything on the decking alongside the boat, but we are already thinking of tomatoes, onions, potatoes and green beans in pots for next year. Now that we have the covers on at both ends (they look brill!) we have extra space and a ‘little greenhouse’ to start the seedlings off. Of course we won’t be able to have the volume of plants as we did at the house (I so miss my apple tree!) but we can see no reason why we shouldn’t have a certain amount of success. Other people here do, so we may be able to barter to mix and match!

  6. As someone soon to get on an airplane, I am with Cheergerm on the sleeping pilot stats!
    Your post caused me to recall the days of yore when my brothers and I would complain “There’s nothing to eat!” and my mom would reply that if we were that hungry, we could eat an apple or a banana (being me, I usually went for a hunk of cheese instead). She was not particularly concerned about health food. It was more of a commonsense thing that you only have sugary treats or soft drinks once in a while. We used to yammer for her to buy things in the grocery store but the answer was usually NO.

    • My sincere apologies, Linnet, for the wobbles I may have placed in your flying confidence. I’m sure your pilots are going to be well rested and rejuvenated from the benefits of green tea. Feel any better? 🙄
      Your mom sounds so similar to mine, in that the phrase, “The fruit bowl is full of choice,” was as common a comeback in our house as “Get your elbows off the table.”
      In my house, I tried to make that bowl the first thing my kids would see when they’d get home from school. Colorful and welcoming. And oftentimes when staring at that bowl, and seeing the contents not move as much as I wanted it to, I would nod and understand why it was the source of so many “still life” paintings. *sigh*

  7. Bravo!! … so very well said!!

    I believe that kids ultimately learn from example – Monkey See, Monkey Do. We always had – and have – an abundance of fruit and vegetables in the refridgerator to eat and valued an activity lifestyle. Both of our sons are adults now – valuing a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

    We take part of the credit, but I also think that a major contributor was a physical education course both of them took in high school focusing on nutrition and its benefit to feeling and performing well. I marvel that courses like this aren’t considered mandatory in both primary and secondary school.

    • I second your bewilderment, Joanne. If our kids could have a better grasp on how eating affects their performance on the field and in the classroom, not to mention their quality of sleep, they might give pause before the vending machines scattered about the school grounds. And although there is some movement in improving school cafeterias, unhealthy food choices are abundant in most of them and win out time and time again. Fat and salt and sugar taste good. They are formidable opponents. Parents like you and I find success less frequently because the deck is stacked against us.
      I think your boys are lucky indeed. Determined parents and a school that sees the benefits of nutritional education. Sadly, a rare combination, but hopefully a growing one.

    • I agree with you on the learning from parents thing – it holds true for so many things from treating other people with respect, loving books, to really enjoying eating vegetables. We went through a supermarket checkout with the kids when they were quite small and the cashier commented on the amount of vegetables, especially the cabbage. She bemoaned the fact she couldn’t get her kids to eat green veg, but then said she hated them and wouldn’t eat them. Well, we thought, there’s your problem right there.

      Have you heard of Jamie Oliver? He’s tried to get British school dinners to be healthier, and tried to do the same in parts of the US too. We watched the first series where he was working in a British school and he took a lesson with some kids – it was some time ago but I think they were at least 8 or 9 years old. They couldn’t even name all the vegetables he was holding up – nothing exotic, just stuff like carrots, leeks, courgettes etc. It was eye-opening how little some children had been taught about food.

      • Huge fan of J.O. The book I’ve written actually uses a “Jamie Oliver” doppelganger and follows the scenario of a school attempting to get on the band wagon of the new overhaul of their school’s cafeteria. But they take it a bit too far.
        It is sadly illuminating just how little food knowledge many kids have, and why I’m a big advocate for getting kids in the kitchen as early as possible. The programs are growing, but they’re still “underfed.”
        And one of the ways I got my kids to eat anything I thought we’d have a struggle with, was to tell them that they were too young to have it yet, and that it was only for adults. And then promptly enjoy eating it in front of them. Worked like a charm. Perception equals reality mixed with a little supply and demand. 😀

      • Quel surprise that her children wouldn’t eat vegetables!

        I’m familiar with Jamie Oliver and his work in British schools. I agree with you that children aren’t taught important life skills – like budgeting money, saving, and eating healthy.

        • I agree, and while ideally those would all be taught by parents we have already got to the situation where some parents lack the skills to pass them on – even assuming they had the time between holding down, often, several jobs to keep the family together. In which case it’s in society’s best interests to turn the tide and smooth over the educational gap.
          In my opinion, of course. I just think it’s better for everyone if everyone is as healthy as possible.

  8. At the moment, my biggest challenge with healthy eating is the cost of fruits and vegetables in Japan, and the extreme seasonality of those fruits and vegetables. It gets to the point that, by the end of the month, it’s cheaper to eat ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner and pay the rent, rather than have a nice complete plate of veggies, meat, and grain on a cardboard box in the alley.

    • I totally hear where you’re coming from, Nicky, and I remember living in places that had similar challenges. During those times, I relied heavily on my freezer–and the frozen food section of whatever markets that had one. There’s a lot of support to suggest that frozen fruits and veg are not only cheaper, but have an equal amount of nutrition or more so than their fresh counterparts. And whenever I was able to get something seasonal, inexpensive, and fresh, I doubled up the recipe and froze the rest.
      Not sure if space is an issue for you and Alex, but I sure do love my freezer–and I definitely remember my Ramen days.

      • Unfortunately yes, space is an issue too, and even frozen veggies are ridiculously expensive. We currently have our tiny tiny freezer packed with Costco frozen produce, but it’s only about the size of the average medium cardboard box. 😦

        • Oh, what a struggle! I feel for you two. But I also admire how you’ve both tackled this marvelous adventure, which is clearly fraught with a few challenges.
          As a quick Ramen side note–I’ve recently come across a few brands that are making inexpensive Ramen noodles, but out of healthier ingredients. I’m totally hooked on the Forbidden Black Rice variety, along with the red adzuki bean and quinoa noodles. The company is called Lotus Foods. I’ve become rather addicted. Maybe there’s some inexpensive experimentation happening in your neck of the woods? After all, you are living in the capital of all things Ramen, right?

    • I remember food, scrub that, everything, being hideously expensive in Japan. Local mom and pop shops were cheaper than international supermarkets, but you needed to have very good Japanese to order and time to traipse around getting what you needed. I remember we were mostly vegetarian, simply because meat was so unbelievably expensive. Lots of tofu.

  9. Shelley, I am so with you on this one. Corn syrup is evil, and I am glad that in Canada it’s not quite as widespread as it is in the U.S. I think being a role model is critical – how can I tell my kid that he can’t eat something if I eat it myself? I eat a lot more healthy now because of it, and that’s a good thing. I am lucky that my kid is a vegetable fiend and enjoys trying all sorts of healthy foods. I try to distinguish between “food group” foods and “nothing” foods…like a can of Coke is a “nothing” food because there is nothing good for you in there, just sugar and chemicals…whereas a homemade chocolate chip cookie once in a while is a better bet for you because at least it has flour and eggs and things that your body can use.

    So where is this book of yours, so that I can purchase said book and support my favourite blogger? 🙂

    • I love your idea, Sue, of categorizing foods for your son. That’s terrific! And I think I’ll remember it when talking to groups of school kids as a helpful tip. I always told my kids that I’d prefer they ate food that was in its original state as much as possible. But if the food did come in a box, please read the label. If they couldn’t immediately identify everything in the ingredient list, then put the box down and walk away. Find something else. Don’t eat your chemistry set. 😮
      And the book? Comes out June 2015. Promise to keep you updated, and I’m sending a huge hug of thanks for your invaluable support!

  10. Hi Shelley, you already have a mountain of excellent comments here so I’ll just lend my support and say Bravo for making whatever stand you can on this particular subject – very important to us here in our little household. One of the things we admire about our rural French neighbours is their continued valuing of the family dinner table and decent food. The fast food chains are gaining a hold here but there is a least some resistance! It needs a Jamie Oliver style campaign in the US perhaps led by Ms Winfrey to shake things up a bit! Big business is way too big and powerful! 🙂

    • So glad to hear the dinner table is still sacred ground in your charming part of the world, Jane–as if fast food joints could EVER stand up to the pride of the French kitchen. Long may that hold out. And I thank our lucky stars for people like Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama who have been endlessly toiling to make a difference in the food kids get in school, the educational opportunities both in and out of the classroom, and also their efforts to get them up and out of their chairs.
      But money talks, doesn’t it? I just wish it would listen once in a while.

  11. Wise words Shelley. I used to think it lies solely withe parents to make these choices but as i look around i realise that we need to convince the children because sadly for some parents it already looks to be too late!! Also i dont care about number 4 lol cos i dont fly!! :))

    • I’m really hoping that too late is defined as when they hammer the last nail into the coffin, Janice, and maybe, just maybe a reversal of health can be an achievable thing for a growing number of people. For kids who are diagnosed with prediabetes, it’s a sharp wake up call – for them and their parents – but definitely still manageable. Changing habits is hard enough without having the media (or your school) be a constant negative companion. There’s a lot of change we need to address, but it would be great if we could “clean house” first, and maybe arrange so that these kids wouldn’t be set up to fail even before they’ve started.
      And as for the flying bit–the view is really quite lovely from up there. Might be worth the gamble. 😛

  12. Shelley, lovely article and illustrations always fun. Yes, it’s very hard. I didn’t do so well as a parent when I raised mine. Coming from the Midwest, meat and potatoes and lots of butter and white bread were staples. Then came video games. Sigh. Good luck with your lot.

    • Ah, yes, the blessed Midwest. I was heartily raised there too. But we lived in a community that was big on hunting, fishing, growing, and in last place, buying. It was a little easier I think when you had a freezer full of venison and blue gill and a backyard full of green beans and blueberries. But times have changed and so must we. I’m up for the challenge. Thanks for the gracious comment and encouragement, Cindy. Much appreciated!

  13. Ah, see, now you’ve got me all fired up first thing in the morning, Shelley. Those stats make me so sad. But also angry. Angry because we have the power to make different choices, but we don’t.

    Walking through the Atlanta airport yesterday, en route home from a weekend trip to Charleston, I noticed a dad holding the hand of his baby daughter (who looked to be around 2 yrs old) as they walked through the terminal. The child was adorable, but so heavy that her belly seemed to be weighing her down. i.e. Her upper body was bend forward as she walked. She wasn’t just chubby, she was obese. Two years old and obese. Heartbreaking.

    • It is heartbreaking, Nancy, and I’m guessing most doctors would say that it was literally heartbreaking. Allowing our toddlers and children to gain an unhealthy amount of weight puts them at risk for numerous debilitating diseases, and what parent would purposefully want that for their children?
      A little education goes a long, long way–hopefully to the point of a long, healthy life.
      I certainly hope enough voices will gather together to make a difference. I so appreciate you adding yours.
      Cheers, my friend!

  14. It drives me crazy how kids today don’t know the joy of playing outside. The lessons of playing in the neighborhood. It seems most kids who play outside do so in a structured environment. But the hours in front of devices they can lose themselves in or the tv programming which prep them into being the brain sucked part of adult society who buy the priorities of the movie industry and tv series filled with sex and violence. It’s frustrating. It’s why I watch the shows that make my husband sigh , laugh, and cringe. They may well be predictable. (How many of our everyday lives would be so predictable if we saw them acted out on a screen?) I like watching those shows that remind me of the old days- those before I was born and those when I was a child. Too many people live life through what shows come on. It’s all a distraction – but it isn’t meant to be a replacement for life. People lived into their 90s years ago too- and not from running on treadmills like rats on a wheel. They didn’t eat diets that analyzed every bite they put in their mouth. They ate what they liked. They enjoyed their food. They worked hard. They interacted with their family. They played with their kids. Dads played catch with sons. Families went sledding. Families bowled together, rode horses together, helped neighbors with home repairs. Kids played kickball and baseball and football with friends and learned how to settle disagreements without someone refereeing. Kids learn empathy and good sportsmanship. They learn how to win and lose and to include others- not because a league says so but because they choose to do so. They learn how to have a tougher skin. But I digress- sorry- I ramble. We all kids and adults alike need to learn there is an off to tvs and there are doors on our homes. if we don’t live in the country, there are parks and places to walk. There are night skies and natural beauty all around us.

    • It seems this is a topic pretty close to your heart, Bettemae. And I have to laugh at the fact that you nearly described my childhood–apart from the fact that my father played catch with his daughters too. 🙂
      But one thing we seem to do a lot of in our society is test just how far the pendulum can swing. I think it’s difficult for many folks to find balance–especially with the onslaught of FOMO (fear of missing out), and that places us on that proverbial treadmill, or our brains are so overwrought with technological work we’re “zombified” in front of a screen. And the unhealthy eating habits go hand in hand with both.
      I think you’ve brought up some really good points about how people have found good health harmony in the past, but if there’s one thing that’s abundantly clear and somewhat ironic, it’s that life doesn’t stand still–even if people do, and by people standing still, it’s causing problems with life.
      Thanks for sharing your memories and your thoughts, Bettemae!

  15. Love this! So very well said. I don’t have children yet but I have noticed how picky so many of today’s children are (no veggies, only white foods). I’m convinced that one of the keys to healthier eating among kids is parents forcing (if they have to) vegetables and a variety of foods, textures, flavors. Our plan is to expose our children to healthy, wholesome food as early as possible and not give them the option to refuse!

    • Ah, Kate, the best laid plans of mice and mothers. I think you may find a few eye-opening surprises along the way, as one of the most formidable opponents a parent can come across is their own child. I love that you and your husband are determined to raise children who will embrace the art of tucking into good grub, and my fingers are crossed all goes swimmingly for you and your plan, but you may find you’ll shortly be part of a very large group of parents whose club is called, “And Plan B is???”
      Regardless, you guys sound way ahead of the game, and your kids will certainly be fortunate to have folks like the two of you leading the way, and bringing the wondrous world of food to your table.
      😛

  16. THAT high a % of airline pilots? & co-pilots?! you, of course, describe the battle with the detail, the amusing partial deviations, (you ALWAYS ‘come back’ — which is probably not true of me and my writing), the PLOT, WHAT IT WILL DO TO US IF ALLOWED TO FESTER, how to try to un-fester, … mostly corn-fructose-syrup, heh? (i just had an afternoon snack of snickers bar warscht down w/coffee with aluminumized ‘creamy’ powder and the #1 sweetened white death (sugar) — so i will probably never resist the urge. is that substance one that also calls out to me as i pass thru’ the beer aisle?).
    seriously: we did NOT have that battle with our kids … i think we were too poor to stray far from the vegetable/bread/can soup aisles …

    • Ooh, snickers and coffee with creamer–sounds like it could be a successful Ben & Jerry ice cream flavor, no? Yum. And I’m a big fan of everything in moderation, but sadly I think that line of thinking is beyond the normal eating routine of this generation of kids we’re raising. Sugared cereal for breakfast, plastic kit compartmentalized lunch full of salt, sugar and nitrates, dinner in the back of a car from a bag passed over in a drive-thru. This is what’s becoming more typical. And scary.
      And the beer aisle sends out siren songs that are swimming in comely carbs. Again, who couldn’t love a well made craft ale?
      Sounds like you were lucky with your kids, Betunada–or smart, or maybe both. 🙂

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