The crunchy mom is often teased as if we’re all stuck up, holier-than-thou snobs who want to put others down for their Happy Meal habits. Sometimes it’s perceived as cruel to often deny kids junk food that’s so mainstream in our society. Furthering this attitude, there are multiple memes going around online right now that make fun of feeding kids a healthy diet because they all just end up eating Doritos and Skittles anyway.
These messages and attitudes bother me, not because I feel made fun of by them, but because they just continue normalizing the Standard American Diet and the resulting health problems that are rampant right now.
We are getting sicker, our kids included, and food is part of the mess.
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Sick: The New Normal
Infertility rates are sky high right now. Obesity, food allergies, and food sensitivities are as such as we’ve never known before. Hyperactivity in children is all too common, and autoimmune conditions flaring and running out of control plague countless people. Nutrition deficiency in a first world country sounds unbelievable… but it’s happening.
Worldwide, the proportion of years of healthy life people lost because of illness (rather than simply dying earlier) rose from 21 percent in 1990 to 31 percent in 2013, according to the Global Burden of Disease study.” – Robert Preidt for WebMD
Some of these issues are conditions that may be genetic – they might not have been caused by diet at all. They can be environmental – we live in a world full of toxic chemicals. But no matter what the root of the issue is, they can all usually be helped, sometimes healed, and often completely prevented in the first place by food.
We can joke and pretend that what our kids eat and drink doesn’t matter, but that is putting our head in the sand, ignoring the health crisis surrounding us that our kids will likely be a part of if we act like what they consume won’t impact their lives.
A massive study in France of over 400,000 people over 15 years lead to the following findings:
After analyzing the results, they found that 49,794 of the subjects had been diagnosed with cancer, with 12,063 having breast cancer, 6,745 having prostate cancer and 5,806 having colorectal cancer.
Upon further investigation, they discovered regular consumption of foods with low nutritional quality was associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and cancer of the upper aerodigestive tract and stomach.
Women who ate foods with low nutritional value had a greater risk of being diagnosed with liver and postmenopausal breast cancer, and men who ate poorly had an increase risk of lung cancer. – Najja Parker for the Atlanta Journal Constitution
Artificial dyes have been linked to hyperactivity, aggression, and ADHD in children for years now. These nasty concoctions have required special labeling in Europe for almost a decade, yet they’re in almost any packaged food marketed for kids in the United States. (You know, the U.S., the same country with CDC statistics of 10% of childhood sickness being related to ADHD).
I know we can’t just overhaul our diets overnight, and if we’ve been relying on lots of packaged, processed, or fast foods, there is a huge culture shock (and price sticker shock sometimes) switching over to a different way of eating.
But this can be done.
Our kids can eat well, and with time their taste buds will change to crave and enjoy healthy foods.
It’s hard work cooking from scratch, and in order to make this doable and affordable, many families will have to cut out lots of fun and fancy treats and snacks in favor of very basic, simple, and affordable real food.
But you want to know what is time consuming and really expensive? Sick kids with conditions that are caused or aggravated by a diet that those who make fun of healthy eating are encouraging. Time and money spent in hospitals, on medication, and the lesser quality of life that comes with a health crisis will likely plague us in the future if we don’t clean up our kid’s diets and nourish them well while we can.
We can laugh and make fun of the mamas who make feeding their kids well a priority, but those attitudes don’t change what a steady diet of processed junk does to the body.
If you’re not feeding your family perfectly, breathe deeply and know all we can do is the best we can. But every healthy choice you make is setting your kids up to be better nourished, to having growing bodies with the nutrients they need to function well into adulthood, and to help our culture become a place where junk, food-like substances are seen as the waste.
Every time you say no to a junk food and make a homemade healthier version, you make a difference.
Every time you read a label and pick out the item without the rancid oils, or the cancer-causing sugar substitute, or the petroleum derived flavors and colors, or gut-disrupting additives, you make a difference.
Every time you choose the banana and nut butter over some chemically laden kid’s “fruit” snack, you make a difference.
Keep nourishing your family as best as you can. Even if people don’t understand why, even if your kids make poor food choices in the future, you are planting important seeds, helping prevent disease, and setting their bodies up as best as you can to thrive in a toxic world. Don’t worry about the haters.
Your work matters.