I am not ashamed to be THAT mom...
I am un-apologetically THAT mom.
I’m the one who sends her kid to school with organic peanut butter and fair-trade no-added-sugar jelly on organic non-GMO 100% whole wheat bread.
I’m the mom who, whenever possible, secretly trashes the candy, juice boxes, sports drinks, and cheetos that she gets from friends, grandmas, and sporting events.
I’m the one who doesn’t own an Ipad, limits TV to 30 minutes per day or less, and tells her kid to go outside and play with sticks and rocks.
I’m the mom who brings water and carrot sticks when it’s my turn to provide soccer snacks.
And, yes, I’m the mom that hands out pencils and stickers at the class Halloween party.
I used to be embarrassed about it. I used to tread lightly so as not to step on anyone else's toes. I'm not perfect, and still keep my opinion to myself most of the time so as not to make other people feel bad about their choices.
But now I'm proud of myself for standing up for my beliefs and values...and for trying my best to actually do something that will help my daughter for the rest of her life:
give her the gift of good health.
Recently I’ve had more than one person actually tell me not to be that mom. They say things like “you’ll ruin it for you kid”, or “don’t be that mom…the one who embarrasses her kid by bringing the healthy snacks…she’ll remember that when she gets older”.
You know what? I hope she does remember. I hope she remembers how I tried my best to keep her and our little family healthy and free of disease. I hope she comes to the realization that I cared so much about her and her father that I was willing to stand up for all of us.
Even if that means being somewhat of a social outcast.
I mean, has anyone taken a good look around lately? In the space of 50 years, our health has come crashing down...and it’s not just adults and the elderly…it’s our kids!
If you’re in your 30’s or 40’s, think back to your elementary and middle school days. Do you remember there being lots of heavy kids in your school? I don’t. There was one, maybe two obese children, tops. Did any of your friends need reminding to take their blood pressure meds? I certainly can’t remember any of my friends taking ANY medications – for ANYTHING – including allergies and ADHD. No one worried about peanut allergies...because kids with deadly allergies were fewer and farther between.
None of that anecdotal stuff is scientific, of course. It’s all based on my own memory and personal experience.
But one cannot argue with the following stats:
- Children as young as 6, 7, and 8 years old are being diagnosed with high tri-glycerides, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
- Between the years 2000 and 2009, there was a 30% increase in Type 2 diabetes among children and teens. Type 2 diabetes used to be called adult onset diabetes and was virtually unheard of in people under the age of 30. Type 2 diabetes continues to rise among young people.
- More than 12 million American kids are considered obese.
- ADHD diagnoses rose 43% between 2003 and 2011, and continues to rise.
- Despite advancements in drugs and medical care, this generation of kids will be the first to live shorter and less healthful lives than their parents.
The failing health of our children (and our nation) is caused almost entirely by poor diet and lifestyle choices.
If I lit up a cigarette and handed it your kid, would that be okay? No? Then why is it okay for you to feed my kid (and yours) foods that are killing them?
Think about it. Will having a single cigarette kill you? No. But smoking thousands of cigarettes over the course of your lifetime certainly can.
Food choices are the same. Is allowing your child to eat one bag of Cheetos equal to a death sentence? No. But a huge percentage of children are eating these processed convenience foods EVERY DAY. The cumulative effect of eating these foods over and over and over again is absolutely killing our children. Slowly. But surely.
We’re in the middle of a health crisis and people are telling ME to tone it down? So, yeah. I’m going to be that mom because no one else is stepping up to the plate. Think I’m being over-dramatic? Scroll back up and read through that list of stats again.
I’m really not as anal as I’m making myself sound. We’re still a pretty normal family. There are KitKats, goldfish crackers, and juice boxes lurking in my kitchen cabinets. We still eat pizza and go out for ice cream. I sometimes (grudgingly) allow my kid to drink Gatorade and non-organic juice (gasp!).
I just keep those things to a minimum.
White bread and pasta seldom adorns our plates, and when it does it’s high quality and home-made...and we enjoy every last bite! Pizza is an actual treat in our house…not a once or twice per week ritual. And just like wine and beer is an occasional treat at social events for me, juice and soda are special occasion treats for my daughter.
The health of your kids starts with you. You control the shopping. You control the cooking. You control the food. You control their health. That puts you in an incredibly powerful and responsible position.
Make better choices. Lead by example. Stick to your guns.
Next week I'll be writing a post about the strategies I use to get my daughter to eat healthier!
I'd love to get your thoughts about this opinion piece. Do you agree? What are you doing to stand up for the health of your children?