Are we injuring our kids with food?

“It’s alright for you, look at you, you don’t have to bother about your weight!”

If there was one thing that makes me seethe it’s comments like this. For don’t we pretty much all have to bother about our weight? And isn’t it because we do bother that we remain a healthy size? And isn’t it also about demonstrating to our kids habits about food and health and how to balance our desire to indulge with longer term effects?

Despite the fish and chips which we indulged in occasionally, for most of the time we ate a well balanced, nutritious diet with lots of fruit and vegetables when the kids were at home. We promoted these foods to the kids as the ultimate. Because meals and nutrition is as big a part education as anything academic.

Meals mean health – as well as pleasure. I could no more offer them crap food all the time than offer them cigarettes. And as they got older they took responsibility for their food, their health and their weight, seeing it as important part of living independently, balancing that with the social and commercial lure of using McDonalds occasionally! As well as a love of chocolate (my failing – I own up to it)!

But surely it is part of all parent’s responsibilities to educate their kids in food wisdom. Yet it looks like it’s something else that schools are now having to take over as so many parents fall down in the simple act of teaching their kids about how to live healthily with food.

Heads are being urged to ban packed lunches in schools in order to provide healthy meals for kids. (See the BBC website here

It’s not that difficult to live healthily with food. But it does take parental action – and maybe change if we’re not doing so already. For example we’d take action if our kid was about to be injured by a massive bus coming their way. We also need to take action if our kids about to be injured by obesity or poor diet– and it is injurious in terms of our inner organs, long term health, mental well being and overall happiness. Overeating affects our brains and our moods too.

We don’t have to be obsessive about it. We had treats – cake for one! And we certainly shouldn’t be obsessed with size or scales. Instead, it needs to be an all round approach to our entire well being. We eat healthy food because it keeps us healthy. It’s enjoyable. It looks fantastic with the wonderful range of colours compared to the colourless slop you get in KFC and there is an enormous range of tastes and textures.

Think about it: if we put sugar in the petrol tank the engine of our car would be faulty and cease to run. If we put crap in our own systems we get ill and eventually cease to run! Kids understand that kind of simple comparison as an example.

They also need to understand several very important things about the food they eat:

–          Variety is important to cover the nutritional content we need

–          We need to eat food that’s as close to its original state as possible

–          We need to eat a wide range of colours

–          We need to eat a wide range of flavours

–          We need to eat a wide range of textures

–         We need to eat from all the main food groups

–          We need to experiment, keep trying things even if we don’t like them at first

Food has a dramatic effect on us. Being healthy makes us feel good, makes us look good; skin, eyes, hair, strength, fitness and thus shape. And that’s the only relevance we need to make to size. Being healthy means we need to balance what we do with what we eat and thus manage our weight – because a healthy body is not an obese one – it’s nothing to do with being skinny or upholding revolting pressure on youngsters to look like models.

It is about educating youngsters to understand the food/wellbeing relationship and how to work it best to their advantage. And it is every parent’s responsibility to the care of their kids. But it looks like schools are trying to pick up the shortfall.

I actually hate the idea of schools now even dictating what the children eat. It sounds a bit controlling to me. But who am I to talk. I had the desire to control what my kids ate and got over my loathing of cooking and preparing food to do it! It was either that or risk poisoning my kids with stuff that had dubious origins.

But if parents are failing in that responsibility, how else do we educate kids to manage their food rather than have food manage them?

6 thoughts on “Are we injuring our kids with food?

  1. Such an important post, really! It’s a touchy subject for many but I agree whole-heartedly with your whole-food approach. I figure if the stuff they eat at home is nourishing and healthy, they can manage with occasional blips when out and about. Our individual metabolisms are quite different, really. But certain basic nutrition guidelines apply to us all. Thanks for opening up the dialogue!

  2. I don’t worry about my weight, I worry about my health. The scales say that I am at a healthy weight, but I know that I could eat more healthily. I am also concerned by schools trying to crack down on packed lunches, because I don’t consider school lunches to BE healthy, never mind healthier than what I would pack. Yet another reason I intend to home educate! (Assuming it’s still legal then… actually, even if it isn’t, to be perfectly honest.)

  3. Agreed. Its not just about the food, its the moving and using our bodies in this more sedentary age we live in. The science isnt difficult, too much energy in and not enough used equals fat for most.

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