Earlier today, I was thinking about something that plagues my mind frequently: obesity.
Now, I want to start this post off by saying that I am in no way attempting to body shame, throwing hate in the direction of anyone, etc. I am merely expressing my opinion.
As a personal trainer, my biggest concern is that my clients, and the people around me, are healthy and happy. So if they’re healthy and happy, but are a little bit bigger, that’s not an issue. It’s when the weight becomes detrimental to their health (mental and/or physical) and their self-confidence that I begin to grow concerned.
But I often wonder why the number of obese people in the world has gone up.
It very well could be all the artificial crap in our food.
It could be the fact that in some places, it is more expensive to eat healthy, whole foods, as opposed to eating boxed/bagged/artificial shite.
It could be that the average person sits for hours on end, not even bothering to stretch their legs occasionally.
But then I thought back to reading in a psychology book about how most of our habits stem from our childhood.
And I thought…
We teach our children to starve themselves for hours and binge when they get the chance.
You might think I’ve gone mad, but hear me out!
The average adult leaves for work before the sun finishes its ascent. They often rush out the door without breakfast (or are munching on something ridiculously quick as they go). They work all day. Some skip lunch, because they don’t get a paid lunch break. Others go on a trek for food that often leads them to fast food of some description. There are usually liquid calories in some form too.
Then, a few hours later, they come home, snack until dinner is ready, eat dinner, and maybe have a light snack before bed…at 11:30 to 1 am, on average.
Now, think about it this way:
The average child/teen leaves for school in the typical morning rush. Most times, breakfast is something quickly woofed down/dragged along. They get to school and begin their day.
After kindergarten, snack time is usually no more.
So 1st graders onwards are told not to eat in the classroom, as it will attract bugs if they drop something.
The day slowly ticks by.
Finally, 12pm or 12:30pm (depending on their lunch block) arrives, and kids of all ages quickly much something from a lunchbox or cafeteria (or, if teens, go off-campus in search of fast food).
Once scarfing something down in 30 minutes or less (usually less for lunch-buyers), the student returns to class, works, receives a ridiculous amount of homework, and then either stays for extracurriculars or goes home.
Once at home, much like the adult, the child snacks before dinner, usually the simplest, quickest, “OMG-I’m-STAH-VING!” snack ever. Then they eat dinner. Then, they may plead for dessert. Then, after all the homework is done, they jump into bed, sleep, and do it all over again.
“But Liv, how does that aid in obesity?”
Well, children are stuffing breakfast down their throat at about…6:30, maybe 7AM. They go to school, not getting lunch until about 12-12:30. That’s anywhere from 4-6 hours without food. Now, that might not seem like much, but if a child has only munched a 70 calorie piece of toast with 30 calories of butter, how can you expect them to function properly on 100 calories for up to 6 hours?
Their metabolism, your metabolism, needs to be properly fueled. Most dietitians recommend eating something every three hours to stay full and focused.
These same children eat for 30 minutes tops, come home, usually exhausted, and stuff their face with whatever they can find. They’re so hungry, they grab for the unhealthy things all kids love; sugary cereals, cookies, artificially flavored snack packs, etc.
You may argue that your children consist on a diet of fruit, yogurt, fresh meats, etc. That’s all fine and well, but regardless of whether the food is healthy or not, we’re engraining a system of shovel, starve, binge, starve, binge, repeat into our children.
Their metabolisms are not functioning the same. Their brain isn’t taught to properly evaluate how hungry they are, or if they’re hungry at all!
Even worse for some of the kids doing extracurriculars! YOUR CHILD DOES NOT NEED A 32 OZ. TUB OF GATORADE FOR RUNNING IN CIRCLES FOR 45 MINUTES. GIVE THEM WATER, OR COCONUT WATER.
Along with the nutrition, let’s remember the following:
A) Lots of schools have done away with recess.
B) P.E. is usually once a week or every other week, and often, coaches are focused on their athletic students, and ignore the ones who need the most help (add in bullying to that disaster recipe!).
C) Pizza is considered a vegetable. (Yes, yes I am still angry about this)
Scary world, right?
Now, I’m not pinning this all on the schools. Not at all. I believe good habits begin at home. However, school boards could offer a helping hand.
Here are my tips on how to make sure your child gets what they need (and you too!):
Prep. to-go breakfast the night before. Or wake up earlier to prepare/eat something before you go! I’m a big fan of putting a boiled egg and some fruit in a tupperwear box for on-the-go ease (so easy to prep!).
Ditch the junk at lunch. Take a lunch with you, if you can. Snack-size carrots and hummus, lean meats, cut up apple, etc. All good, filling things that are portable. If your child buys lunch, make sure they take a piece of fruit or a bag of almonds with them!
Sneaky snacks are always great. I don’t want to go against teachers/bosses/etc. and get anyone in trouble, but if you can, a handful of almonds, a small bag of grapes, etc. are all great snacks to help you power through the rest of the day.
Healthy snacks on hand at home. I believe that fruit is nature’s fast food. When you get home and you’re starving hungry, help yourself to some fruit or maybe some vegetables. Cut up at apple and put it on a rice cake with some nut butter. It’s healthy, filling, and easy.
Don’t scarf dinner down like breakfast. Savor your meal, enjoy it.
Dessert, anyone? I’m not against dessert. To be truthful, I enjoy a sweet treat every now and then. However, try and limit yourself. Maybe one scoop of ice-cream with some berries in a small dish? There are so many ways to treat yourself within your favorite healthy dishes. (Psst! When I want a small treat, I fill a small dish with blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, and put in a tablespoon of chocolate chips! Yum!)