Raising kids is a lot of work! The time involved in preparing them for the adult world is downright overwhelming at times.
When your child was a preschooler, chances are you spent endless hours finding the right school for him or her to attend. You wanted to make sure there was a good balance between art and science. Afterall, the curriculum needed to match the natural talents of your 4-year-old.
Then comes grade school with an entirely different set of “things” to research. Does their new teacher have an impressive resume? What kind of budget does the school have? Are the textbooks used by the school up to par? Is Common Core a better standard for teaching math? Are standardized tests unfair? Whew!
How about middle school and high school investigation? By now, you have serious issues to consider. Is this school going to adequately prepare them for college? Does the school have a football team that will allow your son to get to college on a scholarship? How about cheerleading? What is it going to take to get your girl on the squad? These are life-changing factors you have to consider carefully.
Then you move onto college and I won’t even begin to describe the complexity and time you will spend researching the right schools, securing scholarships and financial aid and preparing them to live away from home.
All this time you spend trying to do what’s “right” for your child, but let me ask you this…how much time do you spend nourishing your child’s body? When is the last time you sat down to figure out what all those toxic ingredients mean on the label of the yogurt you are feeding them? Or how about the long-term health implications of the dyes and carcinogens in the drinks you are giving them every day for lunch? How many hours per week do you spend doing homework with them instead of making a “real food” meal? Running back and forth to practices, lessons and birthday parties in the name of sacrifice for them, while racing through a sandwich shop (or worse yet, fast food establishments) and destroying their health.
The surest way to lose friends or in my case, lose blog subscribers, is to tell people how to eat and how to parent! Well, I’m going to do both without hesitation if it means waking people up to the damage they are doing to the very people they love the most. If you already feel uncomfortable or even downright irritated by what you’ve read so far, I encourage you to continue until the end; chances are you need to hear this. Sometimes what we don’t want to hear is exactly what we need to hear.
I think it is safe to assume most people reading this article chose to have their children. So, where in this entire plan of raising children did you miss the part about nourishing their bodies for a lifetime of health? My guess is you read a book or two deciding on breastfeeding or bottle feeding, what foods to introduce and when so at what age did you decide nourishment was no longer a priority? You wouldn’t get a dog and feed it a bowl of sugar each day, yet you have no trouble feeding your kids an average of 66 lbs. of sugar each year?
“Using brain-scanning technology, scientists at the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse were among the first to show that sugar causes changes in peoples’ brains similar to those in people addicted to drugs such as cocaine and alcohol.7,8 These changes are linked to a heightened craving for more sugar.9 This important evidence has set off a flood of research on the potentially addictive properties of sugar.10“
Take a moment to digest the above paragraph. We all agree we would never give our children an addictive drug, yet we have no problem feeding our kids sugar in catastrophic doses each year. All of this sugar isn’t just coming from candy and soda either. The truth is, for most of you reading this article, you probably don’t allow your kids to consume large amounts of candy. You are simply unaware of the sugar found in all of the other highly processed foods you are feeding them. For instance, that yogurt you are sending in their lunch “as protein” actually contains 26 grams of sugar and a mere 5 grams of protein. 26 grams of sugar is the equivalent to two donuts!
There are plenty of excellent articles already written on the consequences of sugar, so I am not going to restate all of the facts here. Nor am I going to discuss in great depth the faults with processed foods. Instead, I will provide information on the big picture problems with our current ways of eating and then focus on the solution.
Eating and nourishing are not one in the same. As a society, we have done to our food, the same as we have done to the rest of our lives; we’ve tried to make it as convenient as possible. Unfortunately, however, the human body has not kept pace with technology and our rat race lifestyles. Just because we want everything to happen in a split second, doesn’t mean our bodies are going to cooperate. Sorry, but there are absolutely necessary physiological processes that take place within the human body that no level of technology, wealth or convenience is going to change. No matter how fast we can get our favorite item from Amazon, it still takes 9 months to develop a baby!
Our requirements for nourishing foods is no exception. Just because your kids have baseball, soccer, and gymnastics 5 days per week and you “don’t have time to cook” doesn’t mean their bodies will survive, long-term on dinners from a box! Human beings require nutrients from real foods to survive without disease. There are no exceptions to this rule. We are conveniencing ourselves into a state of destruction.
The natural, preferred metabolic state of the human body is to be fat adapted. This means we are able to easily metabolize fats for fuel. We are all born fat adapted but ingesting high levels of carbohydrates in the form of processed foods unravels this natural state. When you feed your kids packaged foods, you are actually changing their bodies at a cellular level. You are causing their bodies to “forget” how to use fat as a fuel source and require sugar for energy. I promise you if your child could fast forward to adult age, with weight issues and health problems, he or she would ask you NOT to do this to them. As parents, we do not have the right to destroy our kids’ health.
So what in the world do you do if you are reading this and acknowledge you are taking your kids down the wrong path with food? First and foremost, you pat yourself on the back for accepting the truth. Second, start making changes TODAY!
Change starts by changes your priorities. If you are more concerned with your kid’s batting average than his dinner, I challenge you to adjust your priorities. Instead of spending time on social media at night, prepare some real food instead. If you are too tired at the end of the day to make sure your family has nourishing food, you need to re-evaluate where you are spending your time. You are not any busier than anyone else; you’re just not. Your child can not thrive, learn, play, or grow optimally without proper nutrition. You don’t get the luxury of being too tired to provide the food they need.
Ask a parent who has lost a child how they would feel to “have to” cook their child dinner again; they surely wouldn’t complain. As someone who has buried a child, I am deeply passionate about this subject. If your child was gone tomorrow, I promise you would beg for the opportunity to feed them nourishing food. Stop taking things for granted.
When you know better, you have a responsibility to do better. What you’ve done in the past is done, let it go. The changes you make today start with your priorities.
The work is actually not hard if you know WHY it’s important. And the why is because your child is worth it.
Here are a few steps to get you started:
Live by example.
You cannot expect your kids to appreciate the importance of food if you don’t. I own a gym and literally have to hold “Veggie Challenges” to get grown adults to eat vegetables. If you aren’t eating right, your kids won’t either.
Take inventory of how you spend your day. Record how much time you work, sleep, spend time on your phone, stare at FaceBook, run errands and cook. Be honest. Shift time from unnecessary areas to preparing food.
Not the front, but the back. The front is designed to sell you, the back will educate you. If there are ingredients you cannot pronounce, don’t feed it to your kids.
Add up the sugar.
Look at the packages of your kid’s food from breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner for one entire day. The packaged foods you thought were “healthy”, like granola bars, yogurt, cereal, and crackers are actually full of sugar and other unhealthy grains.
Stop serving breakfast from a box.
Increasing your child’s blood sugar first thing in the morning causes disruption in their moods, their ability to learn, perform in their sports and activities all day long.
Do NOT eat school lunch.
Packing a lunch can be simple and healthy when you are armed with the right tools. The LOTUS | NUTRITION LOVE.LEARN.LUNCHBOX. plan has everything you need to pack the perfect lunch in less than 5 minutes.
Stop having “treats” every day!
It used to be we got treats on birthdays, holidays or vacations. Now we make every day a time for treats. By definition, treats aren’t treats if we indulge in them daily.
Stop rewarding with sweets.
This goes for home and school. Tell teachers no sugar for rewards! Stickers, temporary tattoos, and gift cards are a great alternative.
We have strayed a long way from health in our society but it doesn’t mean we can’t get back on track. It happens one household at a time and it has to start with our priorities. If our priority is to raise our children to be happy, content, successful and healthy adults we have to fix our food.
Our children are not “ours” to keep. They are entrusted to us for a very short period of time to help them become the people they are meant to be. Give them a gift they will cherish forever…the gift of health.