So, after a weekend at Great Wolf Lodge, in the heart of the Poconos, celebrating Emilia and Francesca’s 8th birthday, I am incredibly troubled by what I saw. Look, we are all born with different shapes, sizes and metabolisms, but what I witnessed on display was America at its most unhealthy!!
I’ve never believed in diets, as they are often too depriving in their nature, and therefore, impossible to manage and maintain.
The whole mindset of dieting is wrong, and I have always thought so! Sure, I’ve been known to eschew soda, chips alcohol and processed carbs, but only because I feel better, faster and stronger when my eating is clean. These were and are LIFESTYLE choices and not diets.
Back when Atkins was proposing pounds of protein – fatty or otherwise; and Weight Watchers was having you count your points; and other diet companies were selling you prepared, highly processed meals filled with unhealthy preservatives, I believed, and still do, in mindful, healthful eating of ‘real’ food; connecting mind and body; and listening to your belly, when combined with daily movement, are the path to ULTIMATE HEALTH & WELLNESS!
Sounds pretty straightforward, but then you go to the supermarket and are overwhelmed by the countless, ‘healthy choices’ – Low – fat, low- carb, lite, gluten – free, sugar – free. And don’t get me started on food labels nutritional fact panels – they are often confusing and misleading.
What are the first three ingredients? Here are the things I look for when deciding whether to put something in my shopping cart:
- Servings per container – Americans have been raised with the philosophy “if some is good, more is better”! This is most relevant when looking at bottled soft drinks, or even your favorite ‘healthy’ granola. Below are two images – the first, is the recommended serving 1/3 of a cup. The second image is what looks like a ‘normal’ sized bowl of cereal – three times the serving size – 420 calories, 24 grams of fat (10.5g saturated fat), 330 mg sodium, and 15 grams of sugar. That innocent bowl of granola is considered healthy, but is it really??
Serving sizes – whether for food (like the granola pictured above), or drinks (bottled teas, soft drinks, and sports recovery drinks are the most egregious). Brands like Snapple, Gatorade, and Vitamin Water generally contain two – two and one-half servings per container. So, when reviewing these labels for nutrient, sodium and sugar content, one would need to double the facts – e.g. if the sugar was 8 grams, which isn’t so bad, in actuality, it would be 8 x 2.5= 20m grams of sugar, which is definitely too much sugar to consume – especially when marketed to our children!!
Go to any ‘all you can eat buffet’ as a prime example.
At Great Wolf, I watched with sadness and I’m sorry to say, a little disgust, watching parents load their plates for both themselves and their young [innocent] children with plates of food that could’ve easily fed at least three more families; and the ‘cherry on top of the proverbial cake, endless mounds of sugary cookies, pies and ice cream for dessert.
Mindless overconsumption; perpetuating a lifelong unhealthy relationship with food for themselves, their children and future generations; fueling [no pun intended] the obesity epidemic and all its’ health – related issues. If all that wasn’t enough, the issue of food waste has taken on epic proportions. Much more to be said on both of these subjects in future blogs.
- The 3 S’s – saturated fat, sodium and sugar. Emilia and Francesca have gotten really good at deciphering food labels.
- Sugar – we’ve all heard about the ‘evils’ of sugar, especially the adverse effects it can have on children. Many foods have naturally occurring sugar, but, it’s the added sugars and artificial sweeteners that we need to worry about!
- Saturated fat – is another one of those things that we’ve learned to keep out of our diets [for the most part], save the occasional burger & fries indulgence. I would caution that an [American portion] of ‘healthy’ granola, packed a walloping 10.5 grams of fat!
The take away for me – READ FOOD LABELS VERY CAREFULLY! Labels such as low – fat, gluten – free. Sugar – free, do not give you license to gorge and indulge. And, as is often the case, if it sounds to good to be true, it is!
Here are some alarming statistics:
- More than one – third (35.7percent) of adults are considered to be obese. More than 1 in 20 (6.3 percent) have extreme obesity. Almost 3 in 4 men (74 percent) are considered to be overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity is similar for both men and women (about 36 percent).
- Overweight and Obesity – KidsHealth.org – the number of overweight children in the United States has grown at an alarming rate, with 1 out of every 3 kids considered overweight or obese. Childhood obesity increases kids’ chances of developing [previously considered adult diseases] such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease, heart failure and stroke in adulthood. Additionally, mental health issues – low self-esteem, depression, being bullied and developing eating disorders are also more likely than average weight kids.
Today’s children are tomorrow’s adults – our future. “I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside, give them a sense of pride…” Greatest Love of All” Michael Masser and Linda Creed.
“Lessons we learn as young children help form the foundation for the rest of our lives – our relationship with food, exercise/movement, body awareness, body image and self-confidence. The principles of healthy eating, snacking, and daily exercise are ageless and invaluable” ULTIMATE FAMILY WELLNESS © David Kirsch 2016.
Preventing kids from becoming overweight begins at home – how your family eats; interacts and exercises [moves their bodies] need to be dramatically revisited and changed. A healthy lifestyle begins with parents who lead by example. Turn off the television, put down your smart phones, and start communicating, moving and cooking with your family!
So much has changed since I was a kid growing up in the 60’s on Long Island!
- Home – cooked meals [prepared by my mom and/or grandmother];
- Daily wellness/movement – walking, PE class, and after school kick ball, baseball, pick – up basketball games, to name a few of the activities;
- Family dinners;
- Meaningful face to face communication, writing letters
Sadly, much of the above has too often been replaced by:
- The ubiquitous fast food choices that accost us on every corner;
- Too much TV time/Video games
- Grabbing and gobbling dinner on the fly
- Texting, social media, and emails
We have disconnected as a society – both personally and interpersonally, and in the process, have too often become isolated and sedentary.
This is all brings me back to last weekend at the water park. There are two things that had a profound affect on me. The first was a young girl who couldn’t have been more than eight years old (Emilia and Francesca’s age), who was huddled in a corner by the pool alone, looking and appearing totally self-conscious and not connected to her body. She was devoid of the joy and lightness of being that should’ve been emanating from her. All around her little boys and girls were playing and having fun.
It pains me to say it, as I HATE labels, but she was morbidly obese!
God creates us all in different shapes and sizes, but who did this to this innocent girl? Sentencing her to an unhealthy childhood of ridicule, shaming, ostracizing and self-doubt. No judgment here, but what and how much are her parents feeding her? Why are they allowing her to consume her time with technology? Their behavior no less than criminal! We have a responsibility as parents to teach, inspire, motivate, and want better for our children.
Get off of the sofa, turn off the television, put down your phones, and video games!! Get up and get moving! THE TIME IS NOW!!
MOVE YOUR BODY, FUEL IT WELL, AND LIVE WELL FOR LIFE!