I recently read an article written by Dr Peter Attia titled “When does heart disease begin” and my guess is that the answer will shock most of you. Fatty streaks begin formation in the arteries IN THE FIRST DECADE of life – you got that ? BY THE AGE OF 10yrs. In some people heart disease progresses quickly and others don’t progress beyond fatty streaks. Of course there are a number factors at play here but there are contributing factors that we are able to control , not least of which is diet.
We know that eating whole , healthy foods containing healthy saturated fats are not the cause of heart disease. So what then is the major contributing factor ? Sugar maybe ? Refined and processed foods ? Added chemicals ? Inflammatory vegetable oils? Sedentary lifestyle? There is no doubt that all of these things are a leading cause of the mass of ill health the world is experiencing. Aside from the tsunami of adult obesity and type 2 diabetes , our children are becoming increasingly sick. Ridden with allergies, irritable bowls, poor concentration, poor nourishment which may present as obesity or underweight kids.
Children are over indulged and parents are lazy. Let me elaborate. It is easier to give a child a shop bought pie , packet of chips , KFC or sugar filled biscuits and rubbish than it is to cook a wholesome meal. Rather send the child off to school with money where he or she can buy junk food and fizzy drinks at the school tuck shop instead of a home packed lunch box containing nutritious food. Many parents could no longer be bothered to make an effort and this includes discipline. Children are dictating what is good for them and parents no longer seem to understand what their role as parent involves.
As a child becomes increasingly addicted to sugar , fizzy drinks, refined carbohydrates, it becomes increasingly more challenging to get them to eat wholesome foods. Instead of taking the time and effort required to sort out the problem, parents simply give in to the child’s demands for more junk. After all, it is easier to keep the kid quiet and have them eat what they like than fight over a plate of meat and vegetable.
Before I continue, let me briefly tell you why I feel the need to write about this. In practice, I see these kids. Every single week. Children of 5 or 6 yrs old with tooth decay so bad all their teeth are black ( sugary drinks is the primary cause) We have 9 yr old kids with non alcoholic fatty liver disease. Kids with fasting insulin levels of , 60 , 70 , 80 ( the normal range is between 2 & 6). We see kids who have not yet reached their teens who are already 30kgs overweight. Kids who come in crying with abdominal pain because they are chronically constipated. Hardly a day goes by without a child being brought in to the surgery with some dietary related ailment.
The part that really gets me is that the parents expect medication to correct a disorder caused by JUNK FOOD ! Many of these parents are themselves diabetic, obese or both and I find it very concerning that they cannot see the legacy of ill health that they are passing on to their kids.
Many parents tell us that they just want to ” spoil ” their kids and that is EXACTLY what they are doing. Definition of spoil ” diminish or destroy the value or quality of.”
Where does the rot begin ? I believe even before pregnancy. It begins with sugar and carb addicted parents. Babies are weaned off the breast too soon and when solids are introduced, it’s sugar rich cereal instead of whole vegetable and meat. Once again convenience often overrides effort however the food industry is unscrupulous in their marketing of the trash they refer to as infant cereals and unsuspecting parents feed this fake food to their offspring believing they are giving their babies a nutritious start in life.
I have previously written a post on how we predispose our kids to lifestyle disease, you can read that HERE
Take a look at the images below to see just how sugar loaded baby cereals are. Notice too that the ingredients are primary drivers of lifestyle disease , wheat, sugar, soy, inflammatory seed oils, etc.
Some parents erroneously believe that if their kids are not overweight they are healthy. However many of these slim kids are undernourished. They suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, attention deficit disorders, mineral and vitamin deficiencies and are just as prone to developing lifestyle diseases as their fatter counterparts.
So where do we begin to fix this ?
Start by weaning your baby onto whole food. I recommend that anybody who has a young child invest in the Real Meal Revolution book RAISING SUPERHEROES.
A child has NO NEED for sugar in the diet at all. Very young kids should not be given sweets and juice. There simply is no justification for it at all. Many health conscious families world wide are successfully raising their children on a sugar free, whole food diet – you can too and PLEASE before you tell me that your kid deserves to eat cake and sweets take a moment to think about the addictive nature of what you are feeding your kid as well as the very negative metabolic effect. I don’t believe any child ” deserves” food that leads to ill health.
How do you correct a child’s bad eating habits? Start one meal at a time. Although changing to real food and eliminating processed foods may be a gradual process, fast foods should be stopped immediately and any sweet treats made an occassional treat.
STOP ALL JUNK FOOD – that includes
- ALL FORMS OF SUGAR
- Sweets, chocolates, chips
- Boxed convenience meals
- Any foods with sugar in them
- All take away and fast foods
- ALL cool drinks, fruit juice, energy drinks
- All sweetened milk shakes, yoghurt drinks
- Breakfast cereals
- All processed meats
If children are given three healthy meals per day there should be absolutely no need for them to snack constantly between meals. If a child eats lunch at school then a lunch box containing healthy food must be given. These foods can be divided up to eat during the course of the school day.
DO NOT GIVE YOUR CHILD MONEY FOR THE SCHOOL TUCK SHOP Children do not make responsible choices with food. Sugar and sweet treats are addictive and any child used to eating these things will continue to buy them given the chance.
DO NOT REWARD YOUR CHILD WITH FOOD.
Food is meant for nutrition and sustenance, it is not suitable as rewards for good behaviour or as a bribe to make your child obey you. You ruin your child’s health by doing this.
DO NOT ALLOW COOLDRINKS AND FRUIT JUICE
Children should drink water. All juice is laden with sugar, preservatives and chemicals. Even “pure” fruit juice is nothing more than liquid sugar. Plain water can be flavoured with mint, lemon or slices of cucumber.
TAKE TIME TO PREPARE FOOD FOR YOUR CHILD
Boxed and convenience foods are not a healthy option for anybody. They are full of additives and usually have added sugars too. Children require healthy nutrient dense home cooked meals.
FAST FOOD, PIES, 2 MINUTE NOODLES ARE NOT HEALTHY FOODS!
NO child should be consuming take away foods, cakes, biscuits, sweets, chocolates, snack bars, fizzy drinks or juices on a regular basis. These are JUNK items and have NO nutritional value. They are also harmful to your child’s health.
So what and how should my child eat?
Children need a balanced diet of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates from whole food sources.
EAT REAL FOOD.
Real food is food that was recently alive. In other words fresh meat and fresh vegetables.Foods that have been processed in a factory and can be bought in boxes is not a healthy option.
Expect a challenge. If your child is accustomed to a junk food diet , they will be sugar and carb addicted and as with any addiction it’s going to take some work to break. Explain to your child why the changes are necessary and involve him or her in making healthy food choices.
Take a look at this site for some great tips on kids meals and lunch box ideas
Lastly remember who the parent is in the relationship. It’s not for your child to dictate to you what they will and will not eat. Of course everybody has likes and dislikes but these preferences need to still be within a healthy context. It is the parents role to ensure the child gets the nutrition he or she needs for optimal brain and body development and to maintain good health.