Where did we go wrong? Why is it that Americans suffer more than ever from deadly diseases and debilitating illnesses that continue to destroy the lives of the people we love? What does this mean for our children and the state of their health…now and in the future? I firmly believe poor diet and nutrition are to blame. In the US, the rate of cancer and other diseases such as diabetes (as a result of obesity or other conditions that may be passed down) far surpass that of other countries due to our weakened immune systems and the inability for our bodies to fight disease quickly. A recent 2016-2017 study lists the US as #6 on the top 10 list of countries with the highest rate of cancer. Click HERE for details.
The US produces more processed foods with artificial preservatives and additives than any other country and we continue to feed these products to our children every day. While many families are vigilant about providing a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and foods high in antioxidants, you certainly don’t see this level of commitment in school lunch programs or other establishments. For example, my husband observed that the children’s section of menus at most restaurants offer the most unhealthy choices. The main meal typically consists of chicken fingers, sliders, hot dogs and grilled cheese. Side dishes usually include fries, mac & cheese, a cookie and, once in a blue moon, fruit or veggies. The drink choice almost always includes a sugary beverage such as apple juice, orange juice, lemonade, punch or soda products. These sweet drinks are probably the most destructive of them all. I’ll admit it’s a struggle for Maya to order water with her meals. The thought of plain ol’ bland water will usually spark a drawn out whine-fest. Then we’ll usually succumb and let her order lemonade. The worst of it is watching the wait staff incessantly offer refills of these sugary drinks? It’s as if they’re on ‘auto-pilot’ not realizing the repercussions of their actions. Imagine a child on 3 cups of fruit punch trying to get to sleep later that evening. God help us all. In any event, we always respond with “No, thank you. She’ll just take water.”
Even as adults, we often find ourselves battling with increased fatigue and stress. We’re juggling more and more these days. I know as an older parent, I am challenged with balancing work, school, family and other commitments. We often turn to caffeine in the mornings to keep us going and an occasional cocktail in the evenings to relax our minds. At work, it’s not uncommon for people to complain of digestive issues (such as acid reflux or heart burn) as well as tension headaches from looking at computer screens all day long…but somehow we muscle through it and how’s that? By taking over-the-counter pain meds and supplements to stay functional. If we’re lucky, we may get some exercise in a few times a week to avoid total implosion. It’s no wonder we’re in the state that we’re in. I would never wish this type of regimen for anyone, let alone my own child.
The reality is that I am ultimately responsible for educating my child on making healthy food choices. I remember Maya came home from school one day explaining how her friends would share lunch snacks. She was envious of the Capris Suns, Gold Fish crackers and gummies that other parents would pack for their kids. As parents, we feel badly that she’s deprived of these tasty treats, but in the end, we know that her health risks are lessened (even if just a little) and to us, it’s worth it.
So as we make our way back to Arizona, we hope to start off on the right foot. Personally, I plan to experiment a little more with my dietary choices and see how I can improve my health and reverse the aging process by eating more greens, fruits and vegetables, drinking more water and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol. I also want to focus on yoga and meditation as this is something I haven’t fully committed to. The only way to ensure my child follows a healthy lifestyle and that of her own children in the years to come, is to serve as her role model. I will do it!