This week I had a high school student attend the clinic to interview me for a school assignment. One of the questions was about how much parents are to blame or if parents are to blame for the obesity of their children. It really got me thinking.
I will admit here straight away that I am not a parent and this makes me a “perfect parent” because the only perfect parent that exists is the one in your mind before you actually have kids! Of course, once you have kids you learn that “perfect parents” and “perfect kids” do not exist. It is the real world and we all have strengths and flaws! Oprah’s mentor Maya Angelou’s famous quote “when you know better you do better” is absolutely true. Except for a small number of people, most parents actually do their best.
It is not unusual now for there to be three to four generations in a family who have not been taught how to shop and how to cook. In my experience most people are not taught to be “in tune” with their body. Eating is often followed by feeling bloated, sick, tired etc and this is considered normal.
Our bodies continually break down and rebuild themselves, new blood cells, new bone etc. For this to work well, the body needs a continued supply of good quality “building materials” and “energy”. Not many people truly comprehend that you really are what you eat!
When parents go looking for answers, they find a whole bunch of food company sponsored information that does little to help, sometimes much to harm. How can you blame parents for getting it wrong if they are been given bad advice from doctors, dieticians and other health professionals?
Then we have the media, besides all of the usual tv commercials for toxic “foods” that infuriate me such as “you ought to be congratulated” for feeding your kids toxic margarine! There are also all of the movies, tv shows and reality weight loss or cooking tv shows etc, where you constantly fed really bad information. You often hear lines like “we are cooking a low fat healthy meal” or “this is bad for you or fattening because of all the fat”. It seems that if you hear the same message enough, it becomes the “truth” whether it is based in fact or not.
Or maybe they look to the Heart Foundation which is unfortunately a BIG mistake as of course they don’t consider sugar at all when they “tick” foods for money, that ensures they can tick that breakfast cereal that is jam packed with sugar!
Every so often you will see someone giving great advice such as, Dr Robert Lustig and David Gillespie advising people on the dangers of sugar (particularly fructose) but of course they are usually drowned out by the junk food sponsored dietician explaining that they are wrong and of course we all know that sugar is part of a healthy “balanced” diet!!!
No wonder parents are so confused, they either don’t know why they should care about these things, or get fed really bad advice! I am currently reading “Fat Chance – The bitter truth about sugar” by Dr Robert Lustig, as he explains in this book, obesity is much more complicated than most of us understand. It is not simply about calories in calories out. Not all calories are the same and sugar, particularly fructose is a major cause for concern. Since the war on fat in food started approx 40 years ago we have replaced the fat with sugar/fructose in our foods resulting in increased obesity and diabetes.
Yes parents do need to set a good example, you can’t complain that your child eats too many chips or too much fast food when you supply it or when you eat it yourself! Though I really feel for parents today trying to navigate a “healthy” diet and life for themselves and their family when the overwhelming message is that obesity is about “gluttony and sloth”, therefore blame and shame! We need to teach ourselves and our kids to listen to your body, and eat the way nature intended, real foods that nourish and energise you, with fat and all!
What are your experiences?