There aren’t many things that get me more fired up than listening to people blame others for their problems. Specifically, parents blaming their poor child’s health and or obesity on the fast food industry. Now before you click that X in the right hand corner let me explain what I mean by that.
I am , by no means, a perfect mother. I have never claimed to be. But what I am is completely accountable for the decisions I make for myself and in turn make for my children. We held off for years on buying the boys a game system much to the dismay of my kids. I was fine with their irritation at being ‘the only kids they knew’ who didn’t have a Wii, PSP, DSi, etc. They have a Wii now, thanks to the generosity of a Christmas gift from my family, and it is one of the greatest motivators to them getting their chores done!
We limit the choices in television programs that my kids are allowed to watch and neither of them use the Internet for anything other than school work. No social networking for them. They are 12 and 8 after all. What are they going to say? What do they really need to be doing online? They do earn some computer time, but not much. To tell you the truth, they never ask.
Stay with me here..I am not judging, I am just giving a little background perspective ????
I was a stay at home mother, proudly so, when that was not very en vogue. The women I knew thought that the 6 weeks they had to take off post-birth was hard enough. That is their right. See, we all make choices and we live with them. I can live with being called the ‘No-Fun Mom”!
So when I stand behind a woman at the grocery store who is talking to her kids about how they wouldn’t be so heavy if they didn’t eat at McDonald’s it was all I could do to keep my nose out of her tirade. Yes, McDonald’s markets their food with flashy toys from popular fads and new movies on ALL of the television channels you can hop to anymore. I get that. They have full color ads in Parenting, Family Fun and other mainstream parent periodicals. They are cheap, quick and it’s really hard to pass one by and not crave their french fries….or their LOW prices. But in this case, with this particular woman, her problem was clearly in her cart.
I gave a quick glance in her basket to confirm that the foundation for these children’s poor (as she called it) eating habits has started in the home. 2 liters of pop, 3 different kinds of cookies, Pop-Tarts, Toaster pastries, 6 (Yes, 6) bags of chips, processed blocks of cheese, cheese in a can, white bread, processed meats galore, canned meals and enough frozen pizzas to feed a little league baseball team. And she is blaming fast food?
Now this is the part where I tell you that I have obviously, at some point in the last 12 years as a mom, bought 1 or more of those listed items. Haven’t we all? Even some organic foods can be classified as “junk” foods. I also am well aware that these convenience foods are most often the ones that have coupons in the Sunday inserts in the paper, go on the best sales and are the most advertised. When was the last time you saw a baby carrot commercial?
In today’s economy, when a family goes to buy food and they only have $100 to last them 2 weeks, tough choices have to be made. Many are not educating themselves on how to be a frugal shopper and just want to get in and get out. I know that ,for some parents who feel like they can’t give their children what they really want, want to give their kids what they can. So if that means that they are saying yes to the super cool new toy in the McDonalds happy meal this week then that’s the choice they are making. Letting their kids have a sedentary lifestyle…that’s a choice they are making. Parental choices go on and on.
I initially applauded the decision by Jack in the Box to remove toys from all kids meals last week. I thought, finally, someone is stepping up. But when you peel back the layers you see that this is just a cleverly concealed PR move. The bottom line is: if you don’t want your children to eat kids meals…then don’t buy them!
I fully understand that your entire life is not lived in the confines of your home. That sometimes you have to eat elsewhere. I get that and acknowledge it. You may have a picky eater (been there..still there) who will not eat from the “healthy area’ of a menu. I had a child who would not eat anything but processed cheese slices and applesauce for 1 whole year. He clearly made it. Could I have given in and fed him straight from a flashy cardboard box with happy little characters dancing around having fun pictured on it? Yes. He probably would have eaten it. I was desperate to get him to eat…but not that desperate.
I know this is coming off as pretentious and elitist. Maybe I am a little of both. But when it comes to accountability as a parent I will wear those titles and be proud. If I don’t want my kids to eat junk then I don’t buy it. If I have to ‘eat out’ then it is made clear that while we can sometimes have yummy treats, our dinner does not have to come with a side of fries and a dish of mac n cheese. Moderation. Again, these are choices that I make and I accept the consequences. Has this always been easy? No, but now that my kids are older they understand the concept of moderation we do sometimes have our cake and eat it too. Do we eat out, yes! Of course we do. We also eat at fast food establishments…our favorites: Wendy’s, Subway and Qdoba! See, not judging..just saying ????
There is a new campaign to push fast food restaurants to have more healthy offerings called Kids Live Well that sounds hopefull. So far there are no dining establishments in Indiana who are boarding the healthy train but from what I gather it is coming soon. Cracker Barrel, surprisingly, was one of the first chains to offer food selections on the kids menu that give more fruit, vegetable and non-meat choices.
Each participating restaurant must offer at least one kids’ meal that is less than 600 calories, and includes 2 or more servings of fruit, vegetables, whole grain, lean protein, or low fat dairy.
This is a step in the right direction from a consumer standpoint but we are far from there yet. Parents need to understand that it is not just the food we feed our kids that needs attention but what we feed ourselves. Children are more apt to eat well if they see their parents and caregivers making those same healthy choices. Eating well and moving more are just 2 of the components of a healthy life. How can I ask my kids to be active if I myself am not?
Hopefully campaigns like this one sponsored by the National Restaurant Association and others around the country will shed light on what is one of the biggest problems plaguing our youngest generations.
Thank you for letting me stand on my soapbox today! Let it me known that I have, at some point in my life, fit in all of the profiles I have described . I know what it’s like to survive for 2 weeks on a handful of money and try to feed my family, I know what it’s like to feel swayed by my kids begging for ‘drive -thru’ fare like their life depends on it, I have obviously bought chips before…so please don’t be offended. I truly understand that lower and no income families have to do what they can to feed their families. I think this bracket are the ones that need the full page targeted ads. More people like Jamie Oliver (well, maybe not that intense ???? that go in and educate them on healthy living. More retailers and companies making their healthy food more accessible and not the most expensive. More training for parents to learn how to shop ‘smart’ and create more healthy food in the kitchen. More kids, I don’t know, moving! That way the occasional treats we give them burn off. Ever wonder why when we were younger we all seemed slimmer? Well, in my case it was because we were running around all day. We didn’t have the pull of the video game, TV’s in every room and 500 channels to keep us on the couch. I believe in moderation, and I DO say yes to the occasional doughnut for my kids (and myself) and I do make eating fun. I also know we keep the balance by having fun together and moving more. THIS is the lesson I teach my kids. THIS is the accountability for their own health that I have passed on to them. They have seen me make bad choices and then dig myself out of the hole I made. I eat badly and don’t work out for 6 months = I gain weight and have to work out and get back on track to lose it.
Thank you , again, and I hope I didn’t drive you away. An excerpt of this was in the editorial section of today’s paper…so I wanted to share ????
|My 2 funny Monkeys on the canals in downtown Indianapolis ????|