I was shocked to see a report on the news this morning where it was reported that heart disease begins in childhood. Childhood, people! The time of innocence and Popsicles, riding bikes to the store for a bag of Doritos, chasing the ice cream man and birthday parties galore – oh, yeah, heart disease begins in childhood. I can see that. Apparently, so can scientists who have looked at autopsies of children as young as five who died in accidents and found evidence of fat lining the arteries of the heart. More children than ever are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and everywhere you look you see children as big as adults.
I have lots of kids. Lots of kids means lots of treats and lots of birthday parties, lots of trips to the beach with snacks and lots of visits to the movie theater where it’s much cheaper to buy the jumbo popcorn – after all, SOMEONE will eat it, right? Well, no. It’s my job as a parent to keep them healthy, and in my house, that means limited fast food, no juice (except for V-8) and cakes and cookies on special occasions.
It means finding other ways to bond with my kids that don’t include food – playing Wii, for example, or kicking the soccer ball. It means family wide participation in Muay Thai, walks on the weekend, signing up to run a 5k together and working together to make a salad to serve with dinner.
It means lessons in grocery shopping so that they learn the secrets to healthy cooking. It means trying – and believe me, I know how hard it is! – to break that “let’s reward a good day with a scoop of ice cream!” trap that so many of us fall into. It’s worth it, though. Your kids and your family and the very health of all involved is entirely worth it.