As halloween approaches, I’ve been thinking about the phrase “trick or treat”. It’s a great metaphore for our current state of health in America! We have been tricked into believing we deserve treats all day, every day. I may be showing my age with this post, but I don’t mind sounding a little old for the sake of health. When we were younger, we looked forward to our birthdays because that meant we got a birthday cake! If we had a really good report card, we might get to go to McDonald’s as a treat. If we had a party, or were on vacation, we might get to have a soda. Halloween was fun because we got candy (and not 5 bags full from 3 nights of trick or treating – one bag full from the one street in our neighborhood.) But now our kids don’t really know what treats are! Families have transitioned into baking dessert every night of the week, eating fast food at least one meal a day, and giving kids candy all the time! And schools certainly don’t help – offering chocolate milk/dessert every day for lunch, and giving out candy as a reward for every little thing!
When I was little, I never had a cavity, but now days, kids that aren’t even in school yet are getting fillings. I never once thought about my weight as a child. But kids today are being treating for diabetes and other obesity related problems – elementary kids being put on weight management programs! What happened?
Instead of recognizing these things as treats, we now have them readily available all the time! Our kids are learning that dessert is something that follows every meal, fast food is a perfectly good substitute for a home cooked meal, soda is something we drink all day and water is gross, and candy is a reward for EVERYthing. This definitely is NOT how it should be.
Moderation is a great concept. You hear it all the time “it’s ok as long as it’s in moderation”. But when our thinking is so skewed, we don’t even know what moderation is. Moderation IS key, but we are NOT moderating! We should be teaching by example that a home cooked meal loaded with vegetables is the norm, and that fast food is a rare treat – that candy is bad for our teeth and our bodies, and should only be enjoyed on very special occasions (not a reward!) – that water is the best thing we can put in our bodies and that soda is a rare treat – that dessert is reserved for parties and holidays, not an every day occurance.
We can reverse the damage done for this younger generation, but only if we lead by example, and teach them the reasons WHY. I recently purchased a great book for myself called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”, and guess what? Michael Pollen, the author, made a young reader’s addition as well. My daughter is reading it now. If you would like a great place to start in learning how to change our current state, and teach our children to do the same, these are GREAT! Our children deserve good health – it’s up to us to help them achieve it!