Children’s health today concerns me. Often when I shop today I see children whose health appears questionable. They are morbidly obese or well on their way to being so by the time they reach adulthood. Childhood Obesity always saddens me. I know what it will mean to them in the future. Diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and many other health problems will plague them all of their lives. Their lives are shortened by childhood obesity and other poor health conditions throughout childhood. I have heard it predicted multiple times that the parents of today will well outlive their children because of their children’s early health issues and rapidly aging bodies. How sad! Where did this all begin? Can we reverse the trend? If so, how?
Where did the Children’s health begin to decline and the epidemic of childhood obesity begin? When I was in school over 50 years ago there was one plump girl in our class. She had an eating disorder. Her mother had to keep the refrigerator, freezer and pantry locked. If there was something edible in sight she would eat it! If there was something you did not like on your lunch tray you can guess where it went! Finally, when she was in her teens and her parents were told that she had an illness that had to be treated, she received psychological help and was able to overcome her eating disorder. Today our classrooms have far more pudgy, plump or just plain obese children. Obesity, in general, has grown. Why? How?
A second children’s health concern is asthma. Again there was one girl in our class with asthma. Today it is a common challenge to many young children.
There are a few contributing factors to both increases:
- We eat highly processed foods that lack nutritional value.
- We are being told to eat all the wrong things!
- The things we drink make us even fatter under the guise of no sugar beverages.
- We all get too little exercise and sunshine.
- Drive through meals are too handy and used too often.
- Our homes are shut up with little ventilation.
- We have unhealthy guts that leave us unprotected from diseases. (your immune system starts in your gut.)
Let us talk about the highly processed food first. They contribute to both unhealthy guts and weight. Highly processed foods are anything in a box, can, freezer bag or carton. Included are cereals, bread, crackers, soups, and boxed dinners too. Also, this includes processed meats, cold cuts, and “fruit juices”. Furthermore, they all have over processed grains, nitrates, preservatives, sugar, and more sugar. Or artificial sweeteners have been added that are even worse than sugar. They all contain bad fats and flavor enhancers as well. After all, the processing is taking all the good out of them so you have to put bad stuff back in to make them taste a bit better than their cardboard containers!
In the nutrition world, we refer to these foods as “dead foods” because their original food value has been destroyed through processing. Because through over processing their vital amino acids and enzymes are gone these “dead foods contribute to our unhealthy guts. Therefore we experience weakened immune systems and obesity.
The alternative to over-processed is fresh fruits and vegetables or frozen vegetables. Home cooked chicken, ham, turkey or beef for sandwiches are much healthier. Also, whole grain bread or wraps are best for sandwiches. Furthermore, eggs or other protein for breakfast is cheaper as well as being a healthier option than over-processed choices. Add fresh vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes or even broccoli as lunch bag treats. For dinner steamed versions of all vegetables along with green leafy salads, home roasted meats, and one starch complete your meal. Starches such as fresh red-skinned potatoes, sweet potatoes, fresh pasta or other healthy starch will help supply your family with good nutrition. Over processed pasta, boxed or frozen potatoes and white rice all lack the nutrition children need.
Although for years we have been told do not eat things like red meat, eggs, or butter and other foods these foods are needed to grow and maintain healthy bodies. Today we know that advice was poorly given. Moderation is the key when eating red meats. Do not overcook and eat only a portion of the size of the palm of your hand. An adult does not need an 8, 10 or twelve-ounce steak!!! A child needs only a small portion of the size of their hand palm. In the food industry, we call this portion control which is one of the components to being profitable. In your home portion control helps your grocery bill and keeps the scales under control.
The second big myth getting families in trouble today is the diet and no sugar added foods. If it is sweet it has something in it to make it sweet and that something is most likely not good for you. Americans have a sugar addiction! The best beverages are natural. Water, of good quality, is the best choice. There is nothing wrong with whole milk from grass-fed cows either. Keep desserts to the minimum using fresh whole fruits as your first choice.
The lack of outdoor activity and exposure to sunshine adds to the risk of obesity. Man is made to get up to 4 hours of fresh air and sunshine per day. That means every day, not just on occasional weekends. We need to limit TV, video games and other indoor activities and get outdoors. I know this is tough in some areas where the winters are harsh. Therefore, if you cannot exercise outside find a good inside complex and swim, bowl, play indoor sports when the weather won’t allow for outdoor activity. Get sunshine and fresh air whenever possible as well. In the summertime stock up but be certain that you are getting some outdoor time whenever possible year around.
Also, there are some big contributors to asthma today. In some areas, we have poor air quality. However, closed up homes with carpeting, furniture, and draperies that trap dust are unhealthy. It pleases me that hard surface flooring has once again become popular! Open your windows and let the air and sun in whenever possible as well. Vacuum your furniture frequently. If you have heavy draperies vacuum then also.
Cleaning chemicals are also huge contributors to poor air quality in the home. (see blog: Are Your Cleaning Chemicals Killing You? https://holistic3dhealth.com/2018/08/30/family-health-are-your-cleaning-chemicals-killing-you/) Get rid of caustic chemicals and cleaners with fillers and perfumes. Chose cleaning products that are environmentally friendly and free of harmful ingredients. I use Shaklee products and have for years. They are cheap, healthy and they work! The recyclable compact packaging minimizes landfill usage as well. (https://nancyharrington.myshaklee.com check out and then click on Green Home)
We offer family consultation to create the perfect workable healthy eating plan for you or for your whole family. You can email me through this website or at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 863-207-3095 to set an appointment.
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Nancy Harrington SAFP Lifestyle Coach