Sunday, March 18, 2007

Snack Time

Soccer season is here again. Or should I call it "snack season"? I received a phone call from a friend who thinks like I do about feeding kids for performing on the athletic field. Well, let's be honest here, they don't have to perform, they just have to get their hand into the circle where the snacks are being passed out. Anyway, my friend needs me to give her a copy of my favorite obesity article of all time, The Fat of the Land. This article should be a standard part of educating our coaches, experience and unexperienced. It details what has sadly happened to our American children as our culture has embraced electronic entertainment and not made much effort to push our kids out the door to play.

When I coached in town this past fall I told the parents that I did not think snacks were necessary but they were welcome to organize it amongst themselves, I would not be part of it. Mind you, this "snack" discussion occurred just after I handed out the uniform shirts where one overweight mother complained that her son's shirt was not nearly big enough (he was also overweight) and she was not happy with this. After all, she did just pay $25 for her child to receive a weekly snack, oops to play soccer, and this was unjust. The only time a parent did bring a snack, juice boxes, I passed at least six of them discarded on the ground on the way to my car. Not only are some of our children overweight, they are lazy and inconsiderate.

The statistics are horrifying, in the grand state of Michigan, and grand we are, almost 2/3's of adults are overweight. That means I'm a minority and proud of it! Also, based on current figures, 1 out of 3 children born after 1999 will be diagnosed with type II diabetes, and many of them will be diagnosed at earlier and earlier ages.

I'm taking a stand with my children by boycotting McDonald's and other fast food "restaurants" in the hopes that when they can make their own choices they will see that McDonald's is a poor selection. Not even their campaign to sell me my "made-to-order" latte will get me through their drive-thru. It was a smooth marketing decision on their part, mommy will get her latte and because the kids know they are at the "golden arches" they will assume they will be getting something too. Once again, McDonald's makes a few extra bucks at the expense of our children's health. I will stick to Starbucks and my $4 coffee!

In fact, my three year old had it right the other day. We have been talking about red light, yellow light and green light foods as a way for my children to know what is healthy to eat and what foods they should eat in small portions (found in The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood). So my son and I are driving along and he is talking all about food because he is really interested as to why he can't have those fries he loves (he has not eaten these fries in over 5 months and still remembers them very clearly). When we drive by any McDonald's he claims he is hungry and that we must go. Finally, the other day we drove by one and he didn't ask to go and commented that they made bad food. But what really has stuck with me was that later in the day he called it "hazard food" and understood exactly why he was calling it that.

Why is something so simple as (fat+calories) x no exercise=obesity so difficult to understand? The earlier we focus on (healthy food choices+exercise)=feeling great! the better chance we have to save these kids.

I'm not against all snacks, but let's see some oranges, apples, grapes, even a cheese stick being offered. It may give some of these kids, who don't know what fruit is outside of sticky "fruit snacks", a healthy chance.

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