"Everything in moderation" is the one phrase absolutely guaranteed to ruffle my feathers and send me on a rant. As far as I am concerned "everything in moderation" is exhibit A in the threat to the health of our population.
What does moderation mean anyway? Is is dessert once very couple of weeks at a special dinner? Is it just one Mars bar or fizzy drink a day? Is it McDonalds a few times a week? When we look at everything in moderation do we only look at things quite obviously classed as "junk or treat food" or do we include all the sugar, processed toxic vegetable oils and chemicals in foods being passed off as healthy food.
Children's cereals with the heart foundation tick and a smiley faced animal character, but with enough sugar before breakfast to send the calmest child on a sugar high before school? No iron men or sports stars are actually eating any of that stuff by the way. None. Guaranteed! Or calcium enriched fat free yoghurt with three teaspoons of sugar? How about your "healthy" multigrain bread with more ingredients than I have fingers and toes? Or fruit juices aimed at our kids with between 18 and 30 grams of sugar dependant on brand? That's 6 teaspoons of sugar by the way at its top end. Measure that out and have a look at it to get a better idea. Just in one fruit juice! And don't even get me started on rice bubble bars laden with high fructose corn syrup or chocolate spread on toast for breakfast.
So by the time we add all that "healthy food" together and then we add a "treat" on top of that, how much sugar, toxic fat and chemicals have we actually fed our kids in one day or over the course of a week?
This is a list of the top 10 countries of obese children. Think the USA is top of the list? Think again...and see if you can find the similarity in every single country on the list. It's not hard to find...
Childhood obesity is simultaneously incredibly sad, completely avoidable and an international disaster of epic proportions.
And the situation is getting worse and worse. I find it baffling that parents who love their children dearly, make sacrifices for them and want only the best for them in every other area are prepared to feed their children a diet which is limiting the quality and length of their lives.
My top five tips to parents who are wanting to improve their family's health is this:
1. Don't trust anything you read on the front of a box. Turn it over and read the ingredients list thoroughly. Remember that five grams of sugar in a product equals a teaspoon of sugar, and words and numbers you don't understand are not food that your child's body will understand either once it's digested. Essentially what might look like food, taste like food and smell like food to you is not recognisable to your child's body as food. Because it's not. Simple as that.
2. Choose real food, not non-food laboratory experiments produced with the single intent to make you want to eat more of it. If you don't understand it or couldn't make it at home with the ingredients listed on the box, then don't put it in your trolley.
3.Educate yourself and your kids about what you eat. Don't believe marketing and media hype. Do your own research, there is so much to learn.
4.Lead by example. You can't expect them to eat it if you won't.
5. Make your family's food and health a priority. Convenience is well and good, but healthy food does not need to be complicated or take long to make. As a parent you may not have the opportunity to stop them eating non-food at school or at their friends house, buy you have the power over your own shopping trolley and what comes into your house.