I was recently caught in a very heated discussion with a mother of four, not an easy situation to be in when we were discussing the health and nutrition of kids today and I have none of my own. Luckily I was able to offer up a few thoughts and solutions that brought somewhat of a smile to this particular mother.
The gist of the discussion was two fold, primarily based around the issue of what to pack in kids lunch boxes and what to feed them, leading on from this the impact of the food that they are fed on their behavior and acceptance by other children.
My advice was simple (knowing that this particular mother follows a clean diet) in giving the kids the same food as you eat when you are at home and pack them a lunch box that you would pack yourself for when they go to school. It seems that my second comment was going to prove somewhat harder to execute than I thought. Protests like: "the other kids will laugh at me mummy" or "what you eat is not for kids" as well as just an outright "I don't like what your packing" are what emerges when that protocol is followed.
There are clearly a number of child psychology issues on behavior surrounding this issue and the impact that it can have on the kids and being a sports psychologist and not a child psychologist I will tread very carefully but a few of things jumped into my mind.
I couldn't help remembering a quote from Arnies book "drink protein shakes in public". This wraps up our acceptance issues nicely, you have to get used to being a bit different and others have to get used to you being a bit different. Very soon its all normal for the kids and those around them.
Secondly its education, kids see other kids food, they taste it and of course they love it as its full of synthetics so they want it. They have to understand from an early age about the dangers of it and be taught what's good. Given the good diet of the mother I was talking to she is immediately a good role model.
Another thing we have to weigh up is what extent are we willing to go through some temporary issues to achieve longer term benefits. Its not all straight forward. You want to live a healthier lifestyle, some things have to go which often hurt, there is a certain amount of physical suffering in many cases to get where we want to be. As Lance Armstrong once rightly said: "the pain is temporary, if I quit it lasts forever"
This is by no means a straight forward subject and its littered with sensitivities and natural concerns of the effects on the kids mental state. We are surrounded by fast food chains that are convincing the younger generations that their food is what they need. The education has to start in the home and I would encourage parents to stand strong on this and continue to educate their children in what's good for them rather than accept what society is slowly believing.....the nonsense these fast food chains can afford to advertise!
When its all said and done you have a simple choice, sacrifice the health of the kids and feed them trash or condition and educate them on wha'ts good and watch them excel!