We live in an odd time. Children as young as five experience pre-hypertension. Children as young as two are morbidly obese with symptoms of adult on-set, Type II diabetes. According to the CDC, "Obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States - triple the rate from just one generation ago". That, to me anyway, is very disturbing and makes my stomach ache with a feeling of remorse, regret, and fear. This is an epidemic in America. These facts need to be corrected. How did this begin? Who's to blame for this staggering and upsetting trend? These numbers classify themselves in a national child abuse and neglect. How can we let this happen to our youth? And how can we fix this?
Here is my opinion on the matter. In our hurried and fast-paced odd world of today most of the public is simply tired. Due to our very stressful and jam-packed lives the irony of living in a modernized and technologically advanced society has made living harder. Gone are the days when all we had to do was survive. As I'm sure that was extremely stressful, humans were more satisfied, honorable, and although at times barbaric generally concerned for the welfare of their society in which they lived. Survival meant dirty brows and aching hands but also happy children. Happy that parents were around and the parents fought for their survival. Children saw that as well, "Gee they must care for me so I will care for them." They were also busy. They had responsibilities planting and tending to the survival of the family.
Today, people outside of the family perform most of the childrearing. Strangers that change as often as the wind. Now please don't mistake me for a pro attachment-parenting activist. My children have all attended daycare as young as 12 weeks old. Nothing had the ability of breaking my heart as much. I, like the majority, simply had no choice. Children also have a lack of things to do. Everything is done for them either out of robotic progression or perhaps their tired and guilt-stricken parents deem it's necessary and provides them with a temporary peace of mind.
In summary thus far, we are tired and children are not as happy and they're very, very bored. This deadly cocktail is the underlying premise behind the obesity epidemic. Think about it tired parents equal quick and mindless meals. Meals that require little preparation and lack of love, all with the push of a button. These meals unfortunately contain very little nutritional value, are relatively inexpensive to purchase and have long shelf lives. How perfect for the busy family or the poor family or any family that just doesn't want to be bothered. We are all targets for these calorie-rich and pesticide ridden artificial monstrosities. We do save some time and cash but at what cost? The cost is unhappy, unhealthy, obese and disease stricken offspring. You know the same beings that will carry on our name, give us grandchildren and rule the world? Those are they.
If we just carved out a few extra minutes a day just a few to actually prepare, from scratch or as close to scratch as you can, meals for your children it will have a dramatic and profound effect. If we all understood why sugar is bad and when I say sugar I mean more than just a Snickers bar or bag of Skittles. I mean white flour, bagels, pastries, Pop Tarts, soda, fruit juice, Gatorade, white pasta, the list goes on and on. With a little bit of effort and love you can create meals that are affordable and good for your children. Just think REAL. What is real food? Well, anything that is not processed or comes from our great Mother Nature. Try to keep that one word in your head at all times. R.E.A.L. If you can strive to keeping it real for your children, as best as you can, you will see a difference.
You may be saying to yourself, my children will not touch a vegetable. I cannot get them to eat a single vegetable to save their lives! I hear that ALL the time. You are defiantly not alone in the naughty children realm. There's a very simple solution to this. Trickery. There are loads of ways to hide the veggies in their normal everyday foods. But, watch out this requires extra time on your part. Just a few extra minutes a day in preparation. Having spaghetti? Throw the tomato sauce in a blender (you do have a blender? This is really need to have to make it work) add spinach, zucchini, pumpkin, or anything else you like. Just make sure there's a bunch of garlic to offset some of the sweetness of the veggies. Making a soup? Same thing... Or perhaps you kids love pumpkin bread just add more veggies to the batter. My favorite ways are smoothies. Smoothies are the very best gift the gods have given us... well maybe not but you get my drift. I will give two of the favorite kid friendly smoothie recipes below.
I just have to rant about sugar really quick. I have to because this topic makes me very sad. How can we give our children Lucky Charms for breakfast, Pepsi with dinner, and ice cream before bed, and then take them to the doctors office because they can't sit still. A very intelligent diagnosis of ADD along with a prescription that will turn their little Sally into nothing more than a drooling zombie will occur but the Cool Ranch Doritos and Mountain Dew (I used to love that combo!) will stay. I'm not in the position to offend anyone. I believe there is necessary evil when it comes to prescription meds and in no way have ever recommend anyone to come off of them. What I do tell parents is to please, please try to eliminate all sugar from their child's diet before you do anything drastic. And give it time. It can take up to a month for any noticeable changes to take effect. Just trust that you know that is the right thing to do. And have strength because there will be resistance with children that are literally hooked to the white powder. Just be stern, have patience and most important be consistent. This may prove to your most precious treasures that you love them. And that my friends, is the most powerful tool you posses to combat our epidemic.
The Incredible Hulk
1 cup of organic soy or almond milk (it's OK if you don't think they'll like it. They don't have to know)
½ cup of frozen or fresh strawberries (if you have fresh then you'll have to add some ice)
1 cup of spinach leaves
A little honey or agave or stevia
Blend until green and beautiful. Watch them gulp it down but you must have a list in your head when they ask you what's in it. And they will. The last thing you want is for them to immediately set their cup down as soon as they hear spinach is in there. And if they see you, you can forget about it. But they may try it anyway.
The Cookie Monster
1 cup of frozen blueberries
½ cup of frozen mango chunks
1 cup of organic soy or almond milk
1 cup of romaine lettuce leaves
A little honey or other non-sugar sweetener
Blend until smooth and creamy.