Let’s get together and start making healthy breakfasts a priority for our kids. I can’t tell you the number of times I have looked out in my classroom and seen handfuls of students shoving Pop-Tarts down their faces for breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, providing base fuel for our children to perform well both academically and athletically. So why do we let them start it with a mouthful of poison? It seems to me the real crisis in our nation is not an obesity crisis, a crisis on the part of too many parents who don’t know how or what to feed their kids.
A diet full of simple sugars and refined carbs messes with the insulin not only in your child’s pancreas but also in your child’s brain. Insulin is produced in two places, your pancreas AND your brain. Eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) causes the pancreas to spike insulin production repeatedly in order to metabolize these foods. Do this enough times and it gets stuck at this high level. When it’s stuck at this level cells become insulin resistant, potentially leading to type 2 diabetes. But it’s not just the diabetes I’m worried about.
The brain is also damaged by this diet. The insulin produced in your child’s brain not only transmits signals between nerve cells but also helps form memories and complete tasks like learning and memorizing. Your child’s brain, like your child’s pancreas, can also become insulin resistant, affecting his or her ability to think and to recall.
What is it going to take for us parents to start making better food decisions for their children? An alarmingly high obesity rate? Prevalent heart disease? More cases of diabetes than we have ever seen as a nation? Oh wait….
So parents, what gives? I know we say we often choose this kind of junk food for our children to eat because it’s fast and convenient. But we need to remember, so is grabbing an apple on the way out the door. Don’t tell me it’s because healthy food is expensive, bananas are cheap. My suspicion? It’s easier for us to cave to our kids and give them what you know they will eat without any protesting. After all the other battles we fight, no parent wants to fight yet another battle over what their child should be eating. Well, I think it’s time we put your big girl or big boy panties on and start being parents to our children, instead of someone that panders because it’s less of a fight. They are kids, they are going to beg and plead for the junk food, they have both youth and ignorance on their side. It is our job as parents to tell them no and give them healthy options the majority of the time.
If you find food decisions confusing, then why not take ten minutes out of the day and do some research to figure out some convenient, healthy foods? A handful of nuts and some raisins is an easy snack/meal, fairly non-perishable and quick. Fresh whole fruit is easy quick and easy and so are hard boiled eggs, all of these foods contain actual nutrients your child needs, versus a pop-tart, which has none and takes away from the body’s supply of nutrients. I know it’s easy to justify what we feed our kids because we’re too busy/tired/overwhelmed to feed them something with actual nutrients in it. But you know what’s not easy? Our children trying to rectify a lifetime of bad eating habits that he or she has learned growing up, our children struggling as an adult with weight and health issues most of his/her adult life because he/she wasn’t taught the difference between real food and processed food.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand there will be certain occasions and times when our children will eat junk food, but isn’t that just another reason why we should make them eat healthy ninety percent of the time? So the other ten percent of the time when they do indulge, it’s exactly that, an indulgence, a special occasion and not sustenance for the daily lives.
Still not convinced, well here’s a list of incredibly common ingredients found in most convenient processed foods (like pop-tarts) and how they are affecting your children.
Food dyes: Some of the most popularly used dyes in the United States are red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6, and/or blue 2. We put this crap in everything, and according to healthyliving.msn.com “research has shown this rainbow of additives can cause behavioral problems as well as cancer, birth defects and other health problems in laboratory animals. Red 40 and yellow 6 are also suspected of causing an allergy-like hypersensitivity reaction in children. The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that some dyes are also “contaminated with known carcinogens.” These food dyes aren’t even allowed in Europe.
Sugar: Refined sugar contains no fiber, no minerals, no proteins, no fats, no enzymes, only empty calories. What happens when you eat a refined carbohydrate like sugar? Your body must borrow vital nutrients from healthy cells to metabolize the incomplete food. Important minerals like calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium are taken from various parts of the body to make use of the sugar. Again, refined sugar is void of all nutrients, consequently causing the body to deplete its own stores of various vitamins, minerals and enzymes. But lastly, eating refined sugars will create hunger so your children want to eat more!!! It’s an anti-nutrient- it is destroying their body’s vital nutrients which, in turn, makes them eat more food in order to try and receive more nutrients
Certain Oils: Specifically canola oil, corn oil, and soy oil. These add to our already imbalanced diet with too many omega-6’s. This upsets our balance of omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. Let’s not forget the worst of them all, hydrogenated oils. The molecules in hydrogenated oils are closer to cellulose or plastic than to oil. In fact, hydrogenated oil is only one molecule away from being plastic. When you eat anything containing this material, just as the oil is now thicker and more viscous (dense), so too does your blood become thicker and more viscous right along with it. The heart now has to work so much harder to pump blood throughout the system. This is one of the major ways that consuming hydrogenated oils contributes to high blood pressure.
High Fructose Corn Syrup: Fructose is turned into free fatty acids (FFAs) and triglycerides, which get stored as fat. Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. One hundred twenty (120) calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat. Read more about it here http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/
Artificial Sweeteners. Don’t even get me started on these, there have been entire books devoted to how wretched these are for you and all the accompanying side effects. If you’re curious about learning more a good title to check out is Sweet Deception by Dr. Joseph Mercola.
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net