Love is often given to our loved ones using unhealthy food such as an old-fashioned cookie, ice cream, soda, or candy. It is considered a treat or a reward. It means we are being good, we deserve it, or perhaps it is an act of love for no reason. If done too regularly this old way of thinking is hurting our bodies and creating patterns in our youth that is unnecessary and harmful.
Many in our society today are obsessed with and confused about food and our children are suffering because of it. *Between 8% - 45% of newly diagnosed cases of childhood diabetes are type II, associated with obesity, whereas 4% of childhood diabetes was type II in 1990. That number has risen to approximately 20%. Depending on the age group (Type II most frequent 10-19 group) and the racial/ethnic mix of group stated and of children diagnosed with Type II diabetes, 85% are obese.
We use food as a reward, as a means of numbing our pain, and to get our kids to behave. One of my biggest concerns is when I see children with sugar dripping from their mouths because mom wants them to behave while shopping, driving in the car, or even getting their haircut. It’s an easier out to treat your child with unhealthy sugar. This ultimately has the opposite effect on children’s behavior than what you want. I say there are other ways of rewarding, like an acknowledgement, a sticker, an apple or carrot, or better yet a hug or a high five. It’s easier to start good habits with a very young child before he knows what candy, McDonald’s, or other junk food is. If they are already exposed to “the sugars” and fast foods, it’s certainly worth your child’s health and well-being to teach them about how nutrient-dense foods make them healthier and strong and how processed foods can make them sick if they have too much.
I am often surprised at how I get treated for making sure my three-year-old son eats healthy and balanced meals minimizing the sugar and junk in his diet. I get called a mean mom, a sugar-Nazi, and a health freak while these parents are loading their children with chemicals and sugar that they were taught to believe was giving their child a treat. Love is caring about your children’s well being even if it causes you to take an unpopular stand for better long-term health. A big part of this comes from educating ourselves as parents about nutrition. We can’t pick up a newspaper or a magazine today that doesn’t emphasize the importance of good, healthy, whole-food meals with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Balance and variety are the key. Food is yummy and there are lots of ways to incorporate good tasting foods into your diet and enjoy life. I think it is completely fine to have cake at a birthday party… as long as there isn’t one every weekend. Most importantly there are plenty of pure foods that taste just like the ones filled with the unhealthy ingredients.
Consider that the younger we can train our children’s taste buds the better the chances they have to grow up with fruits and vegetables in their vocabulary and their tummies. As parents we must educate ourselves so we can offer our children the best and healthiest lives possible. All the statistics show that healthy, whole food eating effects our mind, body, and spirit in such a positive way. Bottom line…the next time your child is throwing a fit in the grocery store, think of another way to calm him rather than to pop a sucker into their mouths.
*References: National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and My.WebMD.com website
Consider that Our Old Patterns/Habits are in the Way of Optimum Health