I listen to a lot of sports radio. Some of these stations do more talk than sports and it's usually funny. It's a lot of "guy" humor, but I like it.
The other day they were talking about how the DJ's son had a list sent home of approved healthy snacks and you can't bring anything that isn't on the list. They were saying it is ridiculous and that if a parent wants to send Twinkies to school, they should be allowed to. After all, this is America, freedom of choice, all that.
I don't agree with these lists because there are a lot of healthy things that weren't on it, like fruit. But, I do know that when parents are packing the snack kids don't get to choose. And don't we need to look out for those kids whose parents don't know better? Our school doesn't have a list you have to stick to, but they ask that snacks be healthy. Then last night, my daughter asks me if she can have candy for snack. What? That's not a snack. It's a treat. "But Mommy, Haley brings candy." Oh lord.
I don't want to get off on the subject of the horror of school food programs. But, I am wondering why a parent would let a kid have candy as a snack? Even if the child is not overweight, what is that teaching them about healthy food choices? And this is in first grade. Kids tend to get more sedentary as they get older.... they play more computer games, gameboy, play station, blah, blah, blah. If they learn that a snickers is a good snack at 6, won't it be that much harder to unlearn that later?
And why would those parents pack those snacks anyway? It's not like it's a gray area like those "fruit snacks made from whole fruit" that have more sugar and corn syrup than fruit. No, this is candy. Everyone knows candy is not healthy. So why? Is it because they are dieting and wish they could eat it? Are they living out their food desires through their kids? Or are they an emotional eater like me? Do they think food=love? I did for a long time. It's still hard to shake that habit. After all don't we all kill ourselves to cook the perfect dinners on holidays? Why? Because we love our family.
Or, are they another of those parents that take the easy way out? It's much harder to say no when your kid is begging, "Please please please Mommy, I'll be good. Just one piece, just this time." I know because that's what I faced with my daughter last night when she did this asking for candy(not that we had any in the house to give her anyway). But we had a quick talk about the difference between a SNACK and a TREAT.
I'm not saying my kids never get candy or cake or cookies. I'm not one of "those parents" who are all about no sugars at all or chemicals or blah blah blah.... But, we need to realize that our kids will model us and only learn what we teach them about nutrition. They learn very little in school about this. That's why this is so important. I am trying very hard to model good behavior for my kids. It is hard and I am not perfect. But, I've already taught my 12 year old to read labels and he's learning about quality foods and good choices.
My first grader and I look at the menu for her school every week. The school actually prints out a menu for the semester. Each day they have green foods-healthiest choice, yellow-healthier, red-not very healthy. We talk about which foods are green and why. Although I don't always agree with their ratings, cheeseburger=yellow?, it opens up the topic to good discussion.
I'm not teaching her to count calories at 6 before some of you freak out. But, I do want her to learn what is healthy and what are things you can have, but only sometimes. For instance, this week she chose to have a baked potato over the pizza(a red food). But, she has decided that next week, maybe she'll have pizza. Fine. Today, they have only a red food and a yellow food so she decided she wanted to pack her lunch. She chose to take a salad, yogurt, banana, cheese stick and juice box. (I'm not crazy about juice, but we were out of the little organic milk boxes. At least she had the yogurt.) For snack she's having raisins and a Nutri-grain bar. She chose these food because she likes them. She picked them out. She will enjoy eating them AND she knows they are healthy.
It's a fine line between teaching them healthy habits and making them obsessive about their weight. I want my kids to feel good about themselves from the inside out. I want them to learn that they don't need external validation to feel self worth. But, I want them to be fit and healthy. It is hard, but not impossible.
I talk to patients all the time who say it's hard for them to diet since they have to buy stuff like chips and cookies for their husband and kids. "Why??? They don't need that food anymore than you do." That's always my answer. Just because someone is not overweight doesn't mean they don't need to eat healthy foods.
And you wouldn't believe the numbers of thin, healthy parents that have fat, unhealthy children. If it's not something you would eat, your kid doesn't need it. If you are up exercising everyday, your kid should be, too.
Everyone thinks about making sure our kids have a better life financially than we did and leaving them a good financial legacy. What about the Health Legacy we're leaving them? Kids with diabetic, hypertensive parents are more likely to grow up to that. Kids of obese parents are twice as likely to be obese. This scares the shit outta me. And one of the main reasons that I realized I've got to change my ways.
Plus, how am I going to make sure they have a bright future, financially and otherwise if I drop dead from a heart attack? What legacy does that leave?
I am committing to creating a healthy legacy for my kids. Not one that starts long after I'm gone, but one that starts now. One where I'm healthy active and fit. One where I can help them be that way too. One where I can watch them leave that legacy for their kids, their grand-kids and stop the cycle of obesity in my family. One where we live happily together a long, long, long, long time.
How do you handle it when your kids want something completely awful for them? Do you let them since they are "just a kid"? What are you doing to leave a healthy legacy?