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