Do Your Kids Eat Fast Food? Might As Well Hand Them Cigarettes and Whiskey!

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It’s a finicky thing – being a parent. Choosing what your child eats, when they eat it, and how often they eat it. Kids have food allergies. Kids don’t like vegetables. Kids beg for chicken nuggets. Kids don’t go outside. Kids play video games. Kids throw temper tantrums and become obese and unhealthy. Kids eat fast food. Once per day. Twice per day. Occasionally. They crave hamburgers. They drink sodas. They get fat. They grow into obese adults. They get sick. They die prematurely. It is an epidemic that is completely reversible.
Where does it start? With the parents. I marvel at the way some parents let their child dictate meals. “Oh, Tommy will only eat macaroni and cheese and fish sticks.” Really? Why does he like macaroni? How does he even know what a fish stick is? 
Let’s take my dog for example. She has been introduced only to organic food. At meal times, when Alex and I are cooking, she begs for scraps of sweet potato and zucchini like a giant steak. She loves – I repeat – loves healthy, fibrous foods. Now, if we fed her cookies and fries, I’m sure she’d like that too, because it’s what’s familiar. In our home, healthy food is all that she knows. It’s all our kids will know (if and when we have them). 
So, why is obesity in children is at an all-time high? Because they are eating things that they are introduced to. And chances are, if they are introduced to fast food before a healthy salad, they will want the fast food. They don’t pop out of the womb saying, “Take me to McDonald’s!” and a lack of time cannot be an excuse to feed your child greasy food. Healthy meals can be made in 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 20 minutes at the most. There’s never an excuse good enough to eat fast food… there just isn’t. It’s literally killing our nation’s children. We’re not giving them a chance to be healthy. We are setting them up to fail. 
“But it tastes good!” they might whine. It’s socially acceptable. It’s easier and cheaper to pop through the drive-through then cook a giant meal. But, consider this. You would never allow your child to sit around the dinner table smoking cigarettes and pounding shots of whiskey, right? (Unless you live in Kentucky.) Not only is that not socially acceptable, it would be illegal. So, why isn’t there some law prohibiting the ingestion of grease-drenched, fat-laden, highly processed food that acts as a drug? 
As the body is fed sugary, non-nutrient dense food, it craves more and more because it’s trying to get nutrition. So, the more crap you feed it, the hungrier you will get in hopes of healthy food. And while we think of food as just food, it’s not. The more crap you eat, the more your child will suffer the consequences in developing diseases later in life, such as cancer, heart disease and ultimately death. Yes, it’s that serious.  
In Joel Furhman’s book, Eat To Live, he discusses this concept: “Many children eat donuts, cookies, cupcakes and candy on a daily basis. It is difficult for parents to understand the insidious, slow destruction of their children’s genetic potential and the foundation for serious illness that is being built by the consumption of these foods.”
In autopsies performed on children killed in accidental deaths, the study confirmed there was fatty plaques and streaks (the beginning of atherosclerosis) in most children and teens. Another report discovered that more than 85% of adults between the ages of 21 and 39 are already showing clogged arteries. 
And research has shown that childhood diet has a greater impact on the prevalence of certain cancers than does a poor diet later in life. 
The bottom line is this: stop going through the drive-through. Stop making excuses for not eating healthy greens, fruits, veggies and grains. It’s never too late to reshape taste buds, to have a healthy life and to start again. It’s sad that we need a multi-billion dollar “diet” industry to attempt to give us that next quick fix in losing weight. It’s sad that we need this industry at all. Imagine how much we could save on healthcare if everyone ate natural, healthy foods? It would be astonishing. 
The formula really is simple. Stop eating crap and start eating foods that make you feel good. If you’re overwhelmed with where to start, ask questions. Lots of questions. Experiment. Get your children outside and turn off the television. We are made to live active lives. Disease can virtually be eradicated just be changing what you choose to eat. It’s the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten, because it’s not about what we look like; it’s what these foods are doing to us. 
Can’t break your sweet tooth? Check out this easy banana walnut “ice cream” that will satisfy without putting you into a sugar coma.
Banana Walnut Ice Cream
Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas, frozen (Pop ripe bananas in the freezer for 24 hours. Peel , cut into thirds and wrap in plastic wrap and then place in freezer.)
1/2 cup vanilla soy, almond or hemp milk
2 tbs. chopped walnuts
Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. 

Comments

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  • Do you have kids at all? If you don't, please don't preach this way. And if you do, are you the parent who tells your kids not to have cake at a birthday party? Never go to McDonald's? Denying them all junk food is going to make them sneak and crave and probably eventually become obese.

    I am for healthy eating as much as the next person, but giving a kid dessert or having the occasional hamburger is not the same as letting them smoke cigarettes. I agree with many of your points, but it seems like you have no experience with kids but feel comfortable telling people how to parent.

    One of the best books I've read on the subject is "How to Get Your Kids to Eat, but Not Too Much." It's a sane, whole-life approach that's helped our family cut down on the food battles. It also advocates NOT banning "bad" foods. If you're really interested in kids and nutrition, it would be a good read for you.

  • In reply to lefish:

    well said, lefish.

  • Hi, Lefish. Thanks for the comments. It's not meant to be preaching, but I'm sure it comes off that way (bad habit, I suppose!)

    My husband and I give talks to schools and are very into helping parents and children with eating. I am a certified nutrition specialist, so this is a bit part of my job. I am a total advocate of "splurging" every now and again. But, why do we have to have junk food? It's society based - we don't really like that stuff. Honestly. I know there are warm memories with baking, having a pizza, enjoying a beer, etc. But, with kids - we can set the stage for a life where THEY get to choose. It's not a diet of deprivation, which everyone thinks that healthy eating is. It's a way of eating that is actually limitless.

    I don't think it's unreasonable to feed a child healthy, natural foods. Almost any food allergy or issue can be cleared up just by shifting your diet, so it's something pretty profound. That is all! Parents can be strict or make it enjoyable or just become more aware. I just think awareness is key - then the parent or child can decide for themselves.

    I'd love to check out that book - thanks for recommending it! Have a great day.

  • balance is the key. i agree, rea about teaching them to choose but if kids are deprived of sweets or singled out and never able to eat the junky stuff they eventually do rebel.

    i was once at a mcdonalds birthday party where a parent brought her son food while all the other kids were eating the provided meal. her kid sulked and was clearly embarassed. sometimes junk is the only option and although you state that you support a "splurge," the title of this blog doesn't support that statement so i question your purpose.

    there ARE some absolutes when raising children but in my opinion this isn't one of them. at least not absolutely absolute. i'd like to share your cool recipe though and i really like your blog site.

  • In reply to nikkiknep:

    I agree, Nicole! I don't think kids should be singled out at all. And that's the tricky aspect - being brought food while the other kids had junk. But, where is that fine line?

    I do support "splurges" - but my splurges are vegan flourless cookies or buckwheat pancakes or the ice cream mentioned in this post. Foods that can still seem decadent but are clean. I won't ever support eating at McDonald's or taking kids there. Ever. That's just my opinion, just as you are entitled to yours. And I respect your opinions!

    But, in the massive studies on kids and nutrition, the most well-behaved kids are the ones who eat the cleanest. Giving kids natural sugars and natural foods (versus the processed stuff) prevents mood swings and highs and lows. We don't think about what we give kids because it's just the "norm," just like it's the norm to see obese people everywhere or watch The Biggest Loser. I'm just suggesting we question and look at our daily meal plans and see what might be tweaked.

    Every person is different. I think we should all start to pay attention to how we feel after the foods we eat. If a kid (or adult) eats a happy meal and feels great, then more power to them. But, the way we feel is so directly correlated to nutrition, it's astounding. And there's no one right way to eat for everyone. That's the beauty and complexity of it.

    To each his own, for sure! Thanks for the comment and the compliments on the site! :)

  • In reply to nikkiknep:

    Thanks for replying Rea. Totally agree that the way to go is to make eating a positive and "limitless" experience like you say. For me, a big part of it is not demonizing "bad" foods. I avoid processed foods, for example, but we get Pop Tarts occasionally because my daughter loves them and I figure it's better to have them once in a while at home than to raid a friend's pantry when she goes over to their house.

    I totally agree that if parents collectively could make a mind shift, nutrition would be easier for our kids. Every kids party has pizza and cake. It's the easy solution and kids like it, but it doesn't have to be that way.

  • In reply to nikkiknep:

    Thanks for your reply Rea. I totally agree the way to go is to make it positive, fun and "limitless" like you said, rather than make eating processed foods evil.

    I also agree that if parents could make a collective mind shift, better nutrition would be much easier for our kids. Every birthday party, for example, has pizza and cake. It doesn't have to be that way, it's just easy and the kids like it. Kids start to expect that at every party and complain if there's no pizza. That's the kind of change that would be great.

  • In reply to lefish:

    Thanks for the reply, Lefish! I completely agree. One of my favorite things to do is taking American classics (such as pizza, pasta, burgers, fries, etc.) and making healthy tweaks that kids and adults don't even notice. You can almost "trick" kids into eating healthy with the simplest of shifts! :)

    I agree about kids expecting the pizza and cake. It's just what we're used to - imagine if every fast food chain was full of healthy salads, black bean burgers, fresh soups, etc. Or if birthday parties didn't center around easy, unhealthy foods. I just hate that kids who eat healthy sometimes seem like the odds one out, you know? At the end of the day, it is definitely about balance and making small adjustments to suit you and your family.

    Regardless, great points and thanks for the comments!

  • In reply to lefish:

    While I agree with your ultimate point of encouraging healthier food choices, I need to correct one point you made in the article and a related one in your comments. In your article, you imply that parents use food allergies as an excuse for their kids to eat poorly. As the parent of a child with multiple food allergies, this is simply not true. In fact, having to check the labels on everything has actually had a nice side effect of us making healthier choices. Food allergies are difficult, but if I'm looking for an up-side, this would be it. I can't just grab processed foods as a 'easy' choice -- it actually more work to do that sometimes. Reading labels, calling the manufacturer -- it's just easier to buy fresh food. In your comments you said "Almost any food allergy or issue can be cleared up just by shifting your diet" -- oh how I wish this were true! The only approved treatment right now for food allergies is strict avoidance. What you might be referring to is a food intolerance, which is quite different than a food allergy but also requires strict avoidance. Food allergies are quite serious and the incidence is rising. So yes, please spread your message about making healthier food choices, but please don't lump food allergy in with picky eaters. It's not a choice any of these kids or their parents made.

  • In reply to catlemoine:

    Hi, PurpleOrchid. I think you might have misunderstood. A lot of allergies and food allergies can actually be caused from eating poor foods (gluten, tons of meat, dairy, etc.). Of course, if a child has a serious peanut allergy, he or she needs to avoid it completely.

    But, sometimes food allergies can disappear entirely by changing your diet, not just avoiding them (or course, not in all cases). And things like sinus issues or what we perceive as "allergies" can disappear by staying away from dairy and processed foods.

    So, while not all food allergies can be kicked by shifting your diet, sometimes examining different ways of eating can help! Perhaps I didn't articulate it enough, but I think we're on the same page with the message! Sorry to hear your child has food allergies, but it sounds like you are doing all you can!

  • In reply to rbfrey7:

    Hi Rea. I think I understood what you were trying to say, but there are a lot of misconceptions about food allergies and I saw an opportunity to share some education. There are lots of studies trying to determine what causes food allergies, but there is no consensus yet. True dairy, soy or wheat allergies are an immune system response, just like a peanut allergy. Changing your diet won't have an effect.(other than avoiding reactions, which is huge) If it does, then it wasn't a true allergy, by definition. Sometimes children outgrow their food allergies, sometimes adults develop them later in life. I wish they would find a cure, but until then, I'm doing my part by trying to educate others. It was a huge learning curve for me. Check out www.foodallergy.org to learn more.

  • In reply to catlemoine:

    I totally agree! I will definitely check out that site. It does seem to be a tricky, ever-changing subject matter!! Thanks again for the comment and sharing your thoughts and research! I appreciate it.

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