Cleaning Up the Toxic Environment For Our Kids
The toxic environment for our children I am refering to is the one in which they are frequently served high calorie, high carbohydrate, fast food meals and are not provided frequent opportunities for vigorous exercise. This is referred to as an “obesogenic environment”. But how do we clean up this toxic environment?
The solution lies in a dedicated, focused effort by the parents and the family. It starts with very strictly limiting the carbohydrate intake that is occurring on a daily basis. Once you pay attention to it, it becomes rather alarming how much high fructose corn syrup your child is consuming in the form of soft drinks, juice boxes, treats, candies, and snacks. Educate your children about the idea of high glycemic index foods and help them to understand that simple white flour carbohydrates are counted roughly the same whether they come in the form of stackable potato chips, juicy drinks in a box, or popsicle’s and desserts. Create an awareness in your child about these. Help them keep track of how much these foods they are consuming.
Share with them the joy of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins and whole grains. Discover amazing recipes together, be imaginative, create games, contests and challenges around exploring great recipes with healthy ingredients. Establish routines that involve drinking only milk or water at mealtime and snack time and involve foregoing desserts except for special occasions. Believe me, if your schools and neighborhoods are anything at all like mine, there will be plenty of treats, snacks, birthday cakes, desserts, sodas, marshmallows, pop tarts and everything in between that your child will be enjoying, so creating some limits will not cause great deprivation. Foster an environment that encourages and celebrates physical activity. Set the example by being active, working out, running, taking walks, hikes and participating in other activities, both with your kids and by yourself.
Next, speak up. Be vocal in your schools, daycare’s and other locations where children spend time. Insist on eliminating a high calorie, high carbohydrate sweetened drinks. Insist on milk or water as beverages (milk is a lower glycemic index beverage and has important calcium and vitamin D). Encourage more physical activity. If neighborhood safety concerns limit the extent to which children can run loose outside, then creatively work around this problem by establishing indoor activities such as, jumping jack contests and striving to meet the President’s physical fitness certificate criteria, most of which can all be done in a small, indoor space.
In short, fixing the toxic environment is entirely possible. It may require a little work and a little creativity, but the alternative is to provide an environment in which children gain excess weight and suffer excessive risks of diabetes, asthma, and overall worsened physical and mental health.
Tags: Childhood Obesity