Everybody knows that junk food is bad for us and for our kids, but are we really aware of the devastating long term health risks and the negative eating patterns and food choices we are introducing to our kids in their formative years? Yes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to provide a home cooked meal for our families every night, what with full time jobs and all, but by feeding our families on a diet predominantly consisting of processed carbs leads to much bigger problems than just obesity. And the worst part is that our kids are learning from what we, their parents, are teaching them.
There are so many kids who are replacing important meals of the day with high fat, high sugar processed foods. In fact the number of young adults who are overweight has more than tripled since the 1980s, which is an alarming rate. In fact, the US alone spent $290.2 billion dollars on fast food in 2017, an outrageous allocation of $890 for every person – man, woman and child in America, just for fast food.
The huge increase in obese adolescents is causing an enormous amount of health problems as empty calories are not just making our kids fat - it is making them sick as well. School cafeterias are providing our children with absolute rubbish and it’s not helping them function well on the sports field or in the classroom, and when they get home at night, too tired to cook, we feed them a Happy Meal to finish off the day.
Think our kids are too young to be affected by ‘adult’ health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol? Think again. Obese children are being robbed of a happy and healthy childhood, learning bad lifestyle patterns that are ingrained in them that they not only carry on into adulthood, but that they pass down to their own children.
They can’t take part in normal day to day activities, running around, climbing trees, playing catch or ball. They struggle to move, it’s impossible to be active, skin chafes and they feel incredibly self-conscious. Not only are we ruining their bodies, we are stripping them of their confidence and their self-esteem as well, and all in the name of instant gratification.
A child develops their palate for food very early on; as soon as they start eating solid foods, they start acquiring their taste for certain items. Studies show that children who are introduced to a variety of vegetables, fruit and healthy items will have a liking for them later on. Toddlers who live on a diet of crisps and ice cream will develop a palate for that, and make no mistake - processed foods and carbs are addictive.
Just try and get a young child to eat a plate of broccoli, beans and cabbage over a nice piece of fried chicken – you have got more chance of moving Asia a little to the left. So what is the solution? It’s simple, get back to basics, rid your house of all the junk food, buy ear plugs so you can’t hear the moaning that there is nothing to eat in the fridge, and make sure that everything in your house has to be prepared from scratch – no short cuts, no junk.
Cook together, prepare meals as a family, make smoothies, grill vegetables on the BBQ, eat fish and never, ever skip a healthy breakfast. Get moving and make a daily walk part of your family’s routine, walk the dog, swim, go fishing – just get off the couch. Change yours and your kids' lifestyles and you will change your life for the better, for good.