Breaking the Chains

27 Feb

Food has been a major topic in our house these last few months.  Mainly just between hubby and me, and occasionally with our 14 year old daughter, Mario, who has shown some interest.

Most of it stems from Hubby reading articles on food addiction, and high fructose corn syrup, and corn itself.  Then he shares his wealth of information with me.  I usually listen, nod my head occasionally, because I agree with him, but I rarely add any of my thoughts.  After all, I’ve known most of this to be true, which is why I choose to eat the things I do.

But the main reason I don’t usually respond, is because it’s an overwhelming problem in our society, and in our house, and it scares me.  I feel like I’m a little fish swimming upstream against a school of bigger fish.  And I feel helpless about how to conquer them all.

Years ago, when my kids were little, my life was chaos.  Even after I became a stay-at-home mom, I had difficulty keeping my head above water.  They were so young, and there were so many of them, and they were so much work.  Shopping was difficult.  Going out was difficult.  Staying in was difficult.  So I found ways to make things easier on me.

Easily prepared suppers, packaged meals, pizzas, and fast food made mealtime manageable.  I succumbed quite often to treats, if they behaved in the stores.  These were usually fruit snacks, roll-ups, graham crackers – you know, the “healthy treats”.

Once school started, they were fed a hot lunch with a protein, carb, veggie, and dessert.  Chicken nuggets, tator tots, carrot sticks, and a cookie.   Then they would come home and sometimes have the same thing for dinner.  Thanks to me.

I quickly started seeing the effects of this type of eating on me.  I cringed whenever I saw my ever-growing self in the mirror, and I’d complain often about how tired I was.  So I made a change.  I won’t bore you with that story again, but that change helped me to lose over 50 pounds.

My eating wasn’t really healthy, however.  I cut out quite a bit of fat, even healthy fats, and replaced them with sugary carbs.  It worked to lose the weight, but I was obviously missing an important part of a nutritional diet.  It wasn’t until I had difficulty running, that it became clear to me how important choice of foods is.  That motivated me to cut out the processed, sugary, salty foods that I craved.

But now I need motivation for my young-adult children.  And that is where I feel like the small fish.

I’ve cut back on the amount of processed foods I buy.  And I try to cook and freeze meals for them to heat up.  But their choice is still the foods that have been proven to be addictive.  So if I’m not buying them, they buy them themselves.  And because the schools offer them as a choice, it’s easy pickin’s there as well.

I’ve lectured a few times about how they need to view food as fuel for their body, and if they want to focus better, or feel more energized, or even sleep better, they need to be sure they’re eating right.  As young adults, they hear me as Charlie Brown does his teacher.  Wah wah wah wah wah wah.

And then their addicted little bodies go straight back to the scientifically addicting processed sweets and salts. Seriously, there are scientists out there who use their education to make these foods addictive to consumers.  The idea is to keep them coming back for more.

And this addiction is way more persuasive than I can ever be.

I feel a tremendous amount of guilt for starting them off on the wrong foot while they were young.  I was young too, and really didn’t understand the long term effects of eating these convenient meals and snacks.  Not to mention, they were cheap, and as a single income family for many years, cheap appealed to us.

At my age now, it’s quite clear how detrimental processed, sugary, salty foods can be.  And I’ve been lucky enough to have the will power and determination to break my addiction and avoid these foods (with the exception of ice cream, of course).  But I fear I’ll need society’s help to break my children of these addictions.  And as I see American’s becoming more and more overweight, and I see exciting, colorful advertisements for these products, and I read articles about scientists who use their knowledge to make the foods more addicting, I’m scared.

It makes me want to take my family and run.  Run to a place where food is food, and the naturalness of it makes it delicious, not the additives that are placed in them.  I wish our own country was that place, but at the pace we’re going, it’ll be many years before Americans make the change necessary to break these addictions.

Until then, I guess I’ll keep Wah-Wah-Wah-ing and hope some of it sinks in.


“The chains of addiction are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” – Warren Buffett


Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Family, Health and Fitness, Parenting


Tags: , , , , , ,

19 responses to “Breaking the Chains

  1. towardshealthylife

    February 27, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    How many times did I dream of living somewhere away from this crazyness and being self sufficient! It is kind of scary that they are allowed to change food into addictive junk! I understand how you must feel about your kids…Daughter didn’t want to eat home made yogurt before and now she picks it over the bought one! 1 battle won and 1 000 000 000 to go :-/

    • shadowrun300

      February 27, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Until I read that article, I didn’t realize how intent the scientists were on getting just the right combination of tastes and additives together to make you want to keep coming back for more. Too much, and the people quit eating it. Too little and they don’t like the taste. Just right and they CAN’T stop eating. It’s scary, really. I know I’m partially to blame, because I didn’t take the time to cook meals in a healthy way when they were younger. But now, it’s almost impossible to convince them how wrong I was. I just hope they understand long before health problems occur. (And don’t get me started on these dang energy drinks. I have NEVER bought these for the kids and have been very outspoken about my feelings on them, yet they continue to buy them. It’s so sad to me.) I’m not battling cigarettes and alcohol, but I’m battling food, sodas and energy drinks. Too me, it’s just as bad.

      • towardshealthylife

        February 28, 2013 at 9:17 pm

        I hate those energy drink, red bull etc. How about going to bed at night for energy?

  2. territerri

    February 28, 2013 at 2:15 am

    The financial aspect of eating healthy, as you’ve pointed out, seems to be the biggest road block. Buying healthy food is expensive. McDonald’s has a dollar menu and Whole Foods earned itself the nick name, Whole Paycheck. I think about the food I’m buying as I’m going through the grocery store and in the back of my mind, I know that even the things I buy that I consider “healthy” are not necessarily healthy. As a country, we’ve been brainwashed about what are considered “acceptable” food choices and doing something different makes you the odd duck.

    • shadowrun300

      February 28, 2013 at 2:39 am

      Anymore, we view healthier foods as an investment, so we’re okay spending money on it. But if you look at low income families – what choice do they have but to eat unhealthy. Then they suffer health problems later on in life, and WE have to help cover the cost.
      But even if I buy healthy foods, my kids want the bad stuff. And since they have cars and money and they’re over 18, I can only offer advice. I worry for them. Link especially.
      And you’re right. A lot of foods viewed as healthy, really aren’t that healthy. It’s deceiving.

      • territerri

        February 28, 2013 at 2:44 am

        I have the same problem here. I buy fruits and veggies, milk and whole grains. And I’m the only one who eats them. Kacey tries to eat well… when she’s home. I’m not sure what they offer in the college cafeteria. Jake, like your Link, only wants sugar cereals, quesadillas and sugary sodas. It KILLS me to think how much soda he pours into his system! And Mark, with his rotating work shifts, could care less about eating well. It’s definitely an uphill battle. I wish I had known, or even given some thought to eating better when the kids were young. I did daycare, so they developed some healthy habits. They all like most vegetables and always have. But now that they’re adults, they eat what looks and tastes good to them.

      • shadowrun300

        February 28, 2013 at 2:57 am

        I’m hoping I can still get Mario to make good choices. She tries, but is swayed just as easily by the bad stuff. She doesn’t drive and has no money, so that helps. 🙂
        Link drinks SO much soda, and eats junk all the time. I worry most about him. Chip eats almost as bad, and drinks energy drinks galore, but has my genes, so it doesn’t show. He’s skinny, but not healthy. I’m trying to convince him as well.
        I guess a positive note is that I used to be the way they are, and I was able to change once I realized what was happening. With luck, they will too, before it’s too late.

  3. Abby

    February 28, 2013 at 2:26 am

    This is eerie, because I was just thinking about this today as I pondered at the last minute what to make for dinner. Pre-packaged, processed, and “fast” food makes our lives easier, but not better. Certainly not in the long run. When my kids were little, I put more thought and effort into what I fed them As they’ve gotten older, I”ve gotten more lenient. Now, I mainly just try to set a good example, and I think at least some of that rubs off. They’re geeky, so I can throw science at them! And yes, the articles abound about how awful most of our food is. That’s why I try to regularly buy healthy stuff, but it’s definitely more expensive than the crap. Don’t get down on yourself too much about the kids. It’s hard to isolate them from our culture.
    And it’s always hard for me to think of 50 pounds more of you! You’re a success, that’s got to make an impression.

    • shadowrun300

      February 28, 2013 at 2:48 am

      I have tried the science with Amp, and he seems to understand. Just not enough to actually make the change. I just had another wah-wah-wah-wah-wah talk with him, as he fixed a double-decker pb&j sandwich. I’m hoping one of the “wah’s” stuck with him.
      I’m hoping, too, that I can set a good example. I’m not an extreme health nut. I have a few vices myself. But I do make sure MOST of what I eat is natural and beneficial. There is a balance. I just hope they can find it.

  4. The Thin Lady Inside

    February 28, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Yes, it is hard… but I think we all come to a point where we have to make a personal, individual, decision… of what we want our lives to be like… it is great that your family has you as an example, influence… trust me … your life speaks by itself… they KNOW what’s right and best for them… without you even telling them… but I am sure as moms we want to always feel we did everything we could… right? -sigh- sadly, as children (My children are still little so I have to speak about my own experience with my mom) we tend to listen to everyone else but our moms… so maybe… some day … someone else… will tell them what you’ve been trying to say to them… and then they’ll say “I wish I had known that before” (duh) … and talking about addiction… read this:

    • shadowrun300

      March 1, 2013 at 1:21 am

      I certainly hope as they grow older they’ll make the right decisions for themselves. What worries me, is that some of these foods are addictive. Literally. The article I referenced tells how scientists worked to discover the right combination of “stuff” in soda to make you want to drink more and more. And one particular chip brand brags that no one can eat just one. And it’s because they designed them that way. But you’re right. All I can do is keep informing them.
      Scary about the young girl in your article. I’m sure that mom feels as helpless as I do. I’m happy these articles are out there. The more informed we are, the better the choices we can make.

  5. meleah rebeccah

    March 1, 2013 at 4:50 am

    Also, I will never understand why HEALTHY/ORGANIC food is so much more expensive. Honestly, it has to cost MORE money to add pesicides and additives and all that jazz into the processed cheap food. It boggles the mind!

    • shadowrun300

      March 1, 2013 at 3:26 pm

      I know, right? I’m guessing it’s because they can make the processed foods in such mass quantities. And they use corn in some shape or form. This entices the farmers to grow more corn. So now we have fewer farmers willing to go the extra effort to farm organically, hence the higher cost for us.

  6. agg79

    March 1, 2013 at 11:54 am

    It’s great you’ve become the standard bearer for the family, even if it is a lonely, unappreciated job. We’ve been down that same old road. Too many happy meals, lunchables, pizzas, chips. What broke me of the habit is when my wife was doing weight watchers. Our entire culinary outlook changed. We began to actually look at the ingredients closer, make choices based upon what was good for us. Gave up on a lot of our favorites (I don’t eat doughnuts anymore), started eating healthier. We still have some bad food (Blue Bell Ice cream is my Kryptonite). Our son has begun to “be aware” of his choices, not sure if it is because of a desire to eat healthier or that he is paying for his own food now. I know your dietary choices will definitely make the runs easier, better.

    • shadowrun300

      March 1, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      I’m not knockin’ ALL bad food. I love me some ice cream too. And I think in some cases our country is looking at doing things more healthily. Even McD’s seems to be putting better choices on their menu.
      There’s a reason our country is overweight as a whole. People are addicted to potato chips, sodas, etc, and the companies do it on purpose. It may have started out innocently – a way to make people buy more so they can make more money – but it’s come at a pretty high cost. And when I see my kids falling victim to it, it worries me tremendously. It’ll be difficult for them to quit, or cut back even, until they HAVE to due to health problems. It’s an uphill battle for sure.

  7. lottajoy

    March 1, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    My daughter was raised on macaroni and butter. It was cheap, and this was before meals were being examined for our health.

    She’s 43 and still alive, but only eats healthy foods. Give yourself a break. They DO grow up and they DO start making their own choices with more sense than we had to give.

    Knowing what you now know, you can only lead a horse to water….etc.

    • shadowrun300

      March 1, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      Thank you, Lottajoy. That gives me some hope. I may have started them off on a bad foot, but you’re right. As they get older, they may start to understand. I just don’t want to see them become a 600 pound dad or mom. I won’t give up leading them to water….

  8. The Thin Lady Inside

    March 1, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    I was thinking about money and everything and just wanted to say that eating healthy is not necessarily more expensive than eating junk food, (I am not talking about organic stuff, that sure is expensive) but you can buy lots of lentils for the whole family instead of buying one item from the dollar menu, you can also buy oatmeal and tons of good things to eat for cheap, meat is more expensive, but even that we can still eat smaller portions! It’s interesting how we think eating junk is cheaper, well, it’s cheaper when eating out, but when eating at home, lots of people can eat broccoli and cauliflower instead… and water instead of soda is cheaper as well, the thing is that people who really can’t afford food are not typically obese… ykwim? 🙂

    Just thinking out loud 🙂

    • shadowrun300

      March 1, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      It’s definitely possible to eat healthy on a budget. My biggest concern is that even though my kids make very little money at their jobs, they are so hooked on soda and chips that they spend their money on that stuff, and the food I have at home goes uneaten. So it’s not ALL about the money. It’s the fact that they can’t stop eating and drinking that stuff and are willing to spend their money on it since I’m not buying it. That’s what scares me. And meanwhile, I’m watching one of them grow and grow and grow, and the other become more and more dependent on soda and energy drinks. And I feel helpless. All I can do is talk with them and hope they start to make better choices on their own.
      I do kwym. 🙂 but I’ve seen plenty of obese low income families, so something’s amiss.


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