So I read a few articles online today that confirmed what I have always known about the large epidemic of overweight children. Let me preface this by saying that when I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to eat certain junk foods: Debbie snacks, cookies, and any other fatty food that my mom thought would make us fat. For dessert we had canned pineapples, grapefruit, or a banana. For lunch, my mom’s idea of a “snack” was a Nutri Grain bar or a fruit-roll-up. Needless to say the “healthy” habits grew old. Especially when I saw many of my friends eating the honey buns, the Twix bars and the ice cream sandwiches.
When I turned 9 my mom started taking us to my grandmother’s house every morning before school. My grandmother had honey-buns, processed donuts, waffles, french toast, etc–you name it she had it. She also was morbidly obese and felt that “healthy eating” was a pretty stupid concept. Anyway my mom warned us NOT to eat over her house in the morning. She told us to eat some toast or fruit if we were hungry. We didn’t listen. After months of accumulating honey-buns in the morning, cafeteria lunch, and stopping at the vending machine for a Twix bar before coming home, I eventually gained a lot of weight. So did my sister. My mom had warned us consuming fatty food on the outside would make us fat and boy was she right.
The articles I read stated the exact same thing: kids who are overweight are often gaining weight from food that is eaten outside of the home.
So what does this mean for parenting? This means that we can feed our children healthy foods at home, pack them healthy lunches, but once they leave OUR home there is still a possibility that the child has access to junk food. Now I don’t want to be one of those people who tell parents that they need to monitor their child’s every behavior(because most of us barely have enough time in the day to focus on ourselves). But what I will say is that parenting starts in the home. Children need to be educated about obesity, junk food, and how unhealthy it is. And it probably should start while they’re young. And it should be emphasized what foods are “okay” to eat when a child is outside of the home, and what foods are “not” okay. We don’t want our children to be scarred from “fat-talks” , we don’t want to turn into the fat police, but we also don’t want our children to go out and eat food that will eventually lead to massive weight gain.
How many of you KNOW what your child is eating when they are out with friends, at school lunch, or even during the school day when they have access to vending machines? How do you convey the importance of good nutrition and being “healthy”?