Saturday, 21 January 2012
My Cat Eats Better Than Your Kids
My work brings me the greatest pleasure of meeting gorgeous yet usually unwell children. They sit opposite me and manage a smile and a giggle. They present with various ailments including skin rashes, frequent infections, inability to concentrate, restlessness, sleeplessness, worries, tummy pains and allergies. The moment of frustration always lingers for me as I reach the point in the consultation of asking about the child's eating habits and current diet. I have come to expect the worst.
Sugary breakfast cereals, chocolate milk drinks, white bread, ham, cheese slices, chips, chicken nuggets, two minute noodles, soft drink, cordial, biscuits, lollies, ice-cream, snack bars, pasta, pizza, dry biscuits.
Where is the real food? Can any of that even be called food?
Recent 2007-2008 statistics published by the ABS in April 2009 show that only 6% of Australian children between the ages of 5-17 consume the recommended five vegetable servings per day, with ages 5-7 being the worst with only 4% consuming the recommended five vegetables. In fact 39.4% of 5-7 year old kids consume 1 or less vegetables per day.
The truth of the matter is kids eat processed food, that we buy for them. We stock the fridge, pantry and freezer. We drive to fast food outlets. We complain about vegetables being too expensive, taking too long to prepare and being too hard to get our kids to eat. So our children's health suffers.
Your child doesn't have to be overweight for their diet to be effecting their health. In fact everything we eat impacts on our entire bodily function. We need vegetables for our ability to fight infection, to grow our bones, hair, nails and skin, to regulate our mood and ability to learn and concentrate, to prevent chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. Vegetables are not just 'good for you', they are essential to our function as healthy human beings.
Believe it or not kids don't need to eat a packaged breakfast cereal to grow up like iron men, or a chocolate malt drink to get energy, or cheese sticks to grow their bones, or white bread with omega 3 in it for their brains. Food advertising will have us believe that its ok and safe for our kids to be eating all that processed and packaged foods, but its not. Our bodies are designed to eat real food, as nature provided for us. If reading the label you can't tell what you are eating because of all the thickeners, preservatives, colours, flavours, stabilisers and numbers then you know nature didn't intend for us to eat it. Eat food, not numbers!
Children are vibrant, resourceful, bubbly, innovative, imaginative and self healing if given the right conditions. We cannot expect them to reach their beautiful potential without eating the real food that our evolution has intended for them. Fresh fruit, vegetables, raw nuts and seeds, fresh meat and fish, minimally processed dairy foods, whole grains, fresh oils all should make up our staple diet. If you can look at your food and see that it was recently living, and is still in its original form then it is a whole food, and these foods sustain our life.
So I reflect on the healthy animals around me, who somehow have it all going for them. My cat seems a good example. He eats fresh raw meat, as is his natural evolutionary diet. This keeps him lean, healthy, strong and happy. If feeling unwell, he eats fresh, raw grass from my lawn. His diet is his medicine.
Sounds simple doesn't it. We've all heard this before. Yet it has become socially acceptable for kids to eat badly, as evidenced by the kids’ menu at restaurants and pubs full of chips and fried foods and devoid of anything fresh. We assume they will grow out of this phase of healthy food hating, and will miraculously start to eat well. But they don't.
So when will your child start to eat real food?