You need to watch the new documentary, Fed-Up. It’s available on Netflix and is perfect for the next night when you and your partner are too tired to be productive post-bedtime. This documentary will give you plenty of food for thought (pun intended) and could actually end up making your night very productive if you end by setting new food goals for your family.
My husband and I pride ourselves on being very health-conscious. We are well aware that to many we seem quite rigid with our food rules, especially when it comes to our children. We try to only give fruit or nuts for snacks, we buy very little processed food, and we visit our farmer’s market weekly. We’ve never given our children Fruit Loops, soft drinks, or a hotdog (but don’t worry, the world made sure they got a hot dog). Some might say we are extreme, but after watching this documentary, I realize we need to go even further.
You see, as parents, we have a captive audience. Think about how hard it is to make better food choices yourself. Now think how much easier it would be if you had a loving being shopping for you, preparing your food, and only giving you healthy choices! Oh wait, that’s us. We are the parents and we do control (for the most part) what food comes in front of our children.
Why I’m anti goldfish
Why do I single out goldfish? Well, goldfish are the ubiquitous children’s snack. They serve them at the church nursery, at every daycare, at parties, etc. But I ask you, what about a goldfish makes it an appropriate snack for a child? It’s not a fish, and it is simple carbohydrates at best.
I try to avoid goldfish and all similar processed snack foods. I’m the mother who sends my kids with their own snack (usually fresh or dried fruit) to school or daycare settings. And I’ve always felt a little embarrassed. I’m not someone who pushes my views on others (this blog post excepted!). I have felt nervous saying, “Don’t feed my child goldfish, or any other processed food,” because inevitably I worry that I’ll indirectly be criticizing a choice they’ve made for their own children or children in their care.
That’s why I love this movie and other media like it. (Book rec: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual) We all need to be pushed to think more critically about what we feed our children. Calories are not all the same. 100 calories of almonds goes into your body and the fiber in them ensures they are digested slowly with only a modest rise in blood sugar levels. 100 calories of a processed snack goes into your body, and the high sugar/low fiber combination mean that they are digested quickly with a high spike in blood sugar which causes the body to turn those calories straight into fat. We have an epidemic of childhood obesity in our country, and it’s because we are feeding our kids things that aren’t healthy.
Every parent could watch this documentary and leave with at least one thing they want to change for their family. I left feeling validated on my choice to not give my children juice (without the fiber of the real fruit, it’s just sugar), but ready to push myself on my own large morning glass of orange juice. At 5 and nearly 3, my older two are quickly nearing the age where they will call me out if I don’t practice what I preach.
I felt validated that most mornings we eat steel cut oats and that my children don’t have any form of sugar in their oatmeal. They’ve never had it there, and thus, they don’t notice its absence. But I felt challenged by how often I bake and offer my kids a dessert. I don’t want them to grow up expecting a dessert after every meal, which is a sugar addiction I myself am currently trying to break. (Interesting factoid from the documentary: sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine.)
As parents, we oftentimes want to cut ourselves some slack because parenting is SO hard. But I don’t think what we eat should be the shortcut. We all love our children, but those of us without a medical degree, myself included, can’t fully appreciate what happens inside our child’s body after we let them eat that snoball, goldfish crackers, or Girl Scout cookies.
Now, I’m sure all these things are fine in moderation, but take a look back over the last week and think how many times, either in your care or out in the world, your kids have had an unhealthy snack. A good number right? Society today is not on the side of healthy eating. These snacks add up inside our children and could be putting them on the path toward the many health complications that come from too much sugar and unhealthy fats.
We could all – government, schools, the medical industry, fellow parents – be doing more to better nourish our children. Watch the documentary and consider taking part in the 10-day Fed Up challenge! Our family is currently in the midst of this ten day sugar-free challenge. My hope is that it shows us how much sugar is in our daily diet and helps us break some bad habits (namely mine and my husband’s!) and replace them with healthier ones.