Friday, April 5, 2013

Minimizing Childhood Obesity

I took this picture a few days ago when I was getting gas to go to the mountains and hike. When I saw this, all I could think of was, "REALLY AMERICA! Really! And we wonder why we have such a HUGE rise in obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The only thing that could be considered of value in this picture is the bottled water in the very back, covered by many other products, and barely noticeable.

Obesity is on the rise in America, we hear about it almost every single day. The most concerning fact about obesity is how rapidly it is rising in children. This generation marks the first generation that will have a shorter lifespan than their parents. It is very alarming. There are many things WE CAN do to help prevent this from occurring. For now, I will recommend three easy steps that you can take as a parent to prevent childhood obesity.

First, we should look at what children are eating. Not only how much "junk food," but also how much sugar children are eating and drinking. Minimizing processed foods and processed sugars (sugars added to any food that do not naturally contain it) will drastically reduce your child's chance of becoming obese. Many people consume high amounts of sugar without realizing it. This easily occurs when they drink juices, "fruit" drinks, and soda. Most of which contain high fructose corn syrup from genetically modified corn syrup. Sugar in small amounts and the right amounts is good for you. It gives your muscles and blood cells easy access to energy, but it is best to keep in mind that ALL of the food we consume gets broken down into its basic building blocks and much of it is released into the blood in the form of sugars during this chemical reaction. Because it is our body's ability to break down food into sugar, it is not required for us to eat excess sugar outside of our regular meals.

The second very valuable thing you can do is switch to making most of your meals with whole foods (switch to mostly organic when possible). What is a whole food you ask? Anything that you can buy in it's fresh form, with minimal processing, did not have to be manufactured to be created, and it is usually ONE ingredient. Chicken, beans, lettuce, apples, spinach, and steak are all whole foods. The goal is to MINIMALLY use processed foods. Minimize cheeses (especially American cheese), white sugars, high fructose corn syrup, margarine, chips, frozen entrees, and anything else with more than 5 ingredients. NO FOOD you eat should contain more than 2-3 ingredients that you do NOT understand or know. From here, you can take your WHOLE foods and turn them into your meals and snacks. For some great recipes, I recommend "Feeding the Whole Family" by Cynthia Lair. You can order her very affordable book and find many FREE and fantastic recipes on her website.

The final and most important thing you can do is to get your child moving and away from the T.V. Do you remember being a child and gaining your first bit of freedom through riding your bike? How about running around and playing Tag, Hide and Seek, Red Rover, etc? This is what our children are missing now-a-days. That's the perfect kind of movement. It's a cardiovascular workout disguised in fun. Most of what a child learns in their youth about health will help them to establish good, nourishing habits when they are older. Children are gaining weight, have less energy, and more difficulty paying attention in school because they are not running off their energy and getting oxygen to their brains and body through cardiovascular exercise. My oppinion is that this is prompting a huge over diagnosis of ADHD. How well do you pay attention at work when you have sat for many hours at work without getting up and moving around? How do you think these lessons and patterns of behavior established in youth will effect your children in their adult lives, especially when you are not around to guide them? I also feel children are also loosing their imagination and chronically complain, "I'M BORED!". This is despite having access to more entertainment than we could have ever dreamed of. Next time your child says "I'm bored," get up, turn off the T.V., and say what my mother said, "O.K. Get out of my house and go PLAY! I don't want to see you for an hour unless someone gets hurt," LOL. O.k. maybe you don't have to go quite to that extreme, but if they are old enough, you could tell them to go ride their bike or go th the neighbors and play with their friends. Not only could you get those extra chores done without your children in your way, but you could enjoy some well deserved peace and quiet. If you're uncomfortable with your child being outside alone, go ride with them or go swing with them (it's a great leg work out, I recommend it if you haven't tried it as an adult :O). When was the last time YOU got in YOUR work out? Plus, you have the added benefit of spending some MUCH NEEDED, interactive, uninterrrupted quality play-time time with your child, no T.V. or cellphones necessary.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Dirty Dozen

There are many benefits to eating organic produce. The main benefit is that the food you're eating is not polluting you body with toxins and genetically modified materials. Remember the adage, "you are what you eat." If you want to be a cross pollinated, polluted, hybridization of the animal and plant world containing many toxins that aren't even identified, then by all means. If you want clean cellular energy, a body that functions at an optimal level, good memory, a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, inflammation and a decrease in many other diseases, then I recommend switching to organic food. Food the way our grandparents and great grandparents used to grow it and eat it. Not only does organic food taste better, but it's great for the environment, great for our gut health, and contains many more nutrients than foods grown in depleted soil that use a basic non-comprehensive fertilizer to help it grow. During our elders time, there was WAY less cancer, fewer chronic diseases, very few autoimmune diseases, and a low prevalence of mental health disorders and less childhood disorders (including less autism, less childhood obesity, less Type II Diabetes, less ADHD, etc). Exercising regularly would also prevent many of these things, but that's a topic for another day.

Many people express there concern that organic food is more expensive, which is true. Anything that is higher quality is going to be more expensive than it's lower quality cousins. I mean, do you expect to pay the same for a purse you find at Nordstrom as you pay for the purse you find at Wal-mart. Probably not because the purse from Nordstrom uses higher quality materials, better craftsmanship, better detail, and is will last a lot longer than the purse from Wal-mart. The same goes for your food. Organic food uses higher quality soil in its growth because the soil is not over worked, it has better craftsmanship because it uses the full array of nutrients available in well maintained organic soil and compost to make up its cellular building blocks, which means it contains more vitamins and minerals, and organic food will help you stay healthier and fuller longer than cheap processed food allowing you to have a higher quality of life than before. Yes, it is more expensive, but you will pay for it now by buying better quality more nutritious food; or you will pay for it later with your health and medical bills; not to mention the environmental impact conventional food is having on our ecosystem. IF you're still skeptical or unwilling or unable to switch to a completely organic diet, then I recommend trying a compromise. Here is an inclusive list of the MOST TOXIC foods on the market. These foods contain the most pesticides and to me are just plain poisonous. Buy these foods organic and you will be doing yourself a favor. The "CLEAN 15" listed are the foods that have tested with the LEAST amount of pesticides in them, so they are the safest to buy conventionally. I would like to make a statement here, this is ONLY a list based on pesticide content, so even though corn is on the list as part of the "CLEAN 15," it is almost ALWAYS genetically modified and spliced with other things, so I would still skip that one and buy it organically. For more information on corn and the way it is grown, I recommend the documentary KING CORN. It is a great way to learn about how corn has come to dominate our food system and the results that have ensued from that.