FYI I think that Super Size Me was the most ridiculous “documentary” ever made and an insult to the intelligence of every reasonably bright person on earth.
Now, I’m not a huge McDonalds fan (not that I have anything against them specifically), or a huge fast food fan in general. However, this growing trend of blaming the fast food industry, and other food manufacturers, etc., on our obese and unhealthy nation aggravates me to no end. Childhood obesity rates and cases of Type II diabetes in our youth has sky rocketed over the past decade. It’s always easy to sit back and pass the buck but that sort of attitude isn’t going to help our kids.
I know that healthy eating can be expensive. A bag of chips is far cheaper than a bag of apples. I know that time is precious and some parents (and I feel this way myself very often) feel stretched. There are plenty of Friday evenings, after a long week of work and parenting that going out for a quick bite or ordering in seems like a tiny bit of heaven, and we do it. We also take advantage of fast food joints on occasion. We actually used going to fast food places as a learning opportunity when our daughter was a toddler so she learned how to behave in restaurants.
I won’t go into the whole “oh fast food places now offer healthy choices” argument. If people were taking full advantage of those “healthy options” then we wouldn’t need to have this conversation. I’m not going to take my little one to a fast food place and make her eat a salad. I’m going to let her have a burger or chicken nuggets and a few fries because the other 29 days of the month we eat relatively healthy home cooked (or at least close to it) meals at home. I want her to learn that being healthy means making sensible lifestyle choices over all. We are her parents, her well being (especially at this age) is largely in our hands. Does she love the toys in the Happy Meal? You bet she does and I’m perfectly OK with that. It’s not up to her to decide if she gets a Happy Meal every week or every couple of months. It’s up to us.
Yes, fast food can be enticing to kids. Yes, the portion sizes are getting out of control. I don’t disagree with any of that. But we have turned into not just a “fast food” nation but, I’m sorry to say, a lazy nation too. Far too often the TV, video games or computer are the baby sitter. We can try and justify it by telling ourselves our kids are playing “educational” games or TV shows or that the Wii is healthy because the kids wave their arms around. There is no substitution for being genuinely active. The recommendation is that kids should be getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity each and every day. That doesn’t include any form of screen time (ie, Wii). Again, it’s up to us, the parents, to get our kids active. For little ones it means getting them up and outside at every opportunity. For older kids it becomes even more important to set a good example. Turn off the TV and go for a bike ride or do some gardening. If they are off doing something else tell them about all the wonderful active things you did while they were gone. Tell them how great you feel afterwards. Make being mobile the norm for your family. Again, I know, I really do, that it can be hard with all of the demands on families these days but physical activity is as essential as breathing clean air and drinking clean water.
Above all, we need to accept responsibility for our health and our children’s health. We cannot blame others. Lobbying or signing petitions to have things change (eg, getting rid of unhealthy fats in restaurant deep fryers, or the continuous upsizing of soft drinks ) is great and I think we need to stand up and have our voices heard about those things but signing your name to a petition isn’t being active.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. What are you doing to keep your family healthy? Are you ok with fast food on occasion or do you steer clear of it completely? Do you find it hard to be active and get your family active on a regular basis?