Thursday, March 15, 2012

How Much ?

I was having dinner at a restaurant this past Sunday with a group of friends for a birthday celebration.  There were two 8 year old twin girls there and they each had plain pasta with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  I was not too surprised as this is also the 'go to' meal for my Niece and Nephew.  But it got me to thinking. 

What percentage of calories do children in this country consume from grains?  Specifically, from wheat and flour.  I could probably sniff around the Net a little and find some figures, but as we saw from our recent little 'red meat scare', it's not so easy to accurately gather people's nutritional profiles.  At the very least, we learned that food frequency questionnaires result in notoriously lousy data.  I suppose taking a peek at what sells, at what people are actually buying at stores across the country, could give us some indication.  Probably our best indication actually.  And have you seen what passes for 'food' in stores these days?  I happen to work at a grocery store and I can tell you it's not a pretty scene.  Even the stuff labeled 'Natural' is mostly just garbage.

Anyway, think for a moment about some little people you know.  Now think how much of the food they consume, that you actually see, is from grains.  The good old 'Eye test'.  Here's what I see:  Cereal and granola bars for breakfast.  Sandwiches, french fries, breaded nuggets of meat/fish for lunch.  Goldfish, cookies or crackers for snacks.  Pasta, Pizza, Mac N Cheese for dinner.  And who hasn't seen that ubiquitous small 'cup' of cheerios that parents let their very young ones lug around and munch on all of the time.

I know kids are finicky eaters and don't like to 'eat their veggies'.  And I'm sure it would take extra effort to get them to consume more paleo type foods and less processed junk.  But that's not my point here.  My point is that just looking around, it seems almost scary the amount of grains and processed food our children are eating.  Scratch that, it is scary.  Very scary.  This is going to catch up with us ... even worse than it already has.  And if you're paying any kind of attention, you know it's pretty bad out there.  Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, ADHD, and on and on.  This stuff is compounding from generation to generation, and diseases and conditions we once only attributed to the elderly are creeping into younger and younger populations.

The good news is that our bodies are amazingly resilient.  Plenty of people grow up literally eating junk their whole childhood, turn things around for one reason or another, and are able to attain some remarkable levels of health and fitness.  This isn't a prescription to 'just do whatever' as youngsters because we'll be able to fix it later though.  No, many people are not so fortunate, permanently damaging their bodies from years of early abuse.  And with the quality of ingredients infiltrating our grocery stores and the willingness of parents to feed said products to their children in ever increasing amounts, I'm seriously worried about the direction we're headed.

The bad news is that the majority of parents feeding their children bread, pasta, crackers, cereal and the like, actually buy the governments line of 'hearthealywholegrains'.  What was at the base of the old pyramid thingy, like 6 servings of grains a day or something?  That's a lot of grains.  For anybody.  Sure most people would probably like it if their kids ate a little more protein and veggies, but they don't feel bad serving them all of these grains because they truly believe they're healthy.

In the end, I guess that's what it comes down to.  What do you truly believe is healthy?  I don't think grains are, and therefore I'm tuned into the extremely high rate at which we're feeding them to our children.  If a 'regular' person saw a Paleo parent giving their young ones meat, butter and whole milk, they would probably freak out just like I'm doing here.  So it's all in what color glasses you see the World through isn't it?  And you should see them through my Paleo/Primal lenses darn-it, cause I'm right!  Just kidding. 

I do write about this stuff because I care though.  I'm genuinely very concerned about our food choices and especially about our children's future health resulting from those choices.  The best way I know how to steer the boat in the direction of better health is to be a living example myself ... to lead my version of a healthy lifestyle and share my experiences like I discussed in the last blog post.  Now, I could be dead wrong about all of this stuff, and I'll be the first to admit it if the evidence comes in otherwise, but until then, this is the way the pieces of the puzzle seem to be fitting together so I'm sticking to it. 

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