What parent would turn down the chance to give a child delicious, healthy food that is convenient, a good money value, that the child loves – and then responds with a, “Thank you, Mommy, that was great! May I help clean up?”
In practice, though, many powerful forces determine our food choices. Our children have tasted artificially flavored, partially hydrogenated, day-glow snack foods and clamor for more. Our kids tell us that their friends’ “parents let them eat” the latest processed food fashion. Huge sums of money pay for artists, musicians, toy manufacturers, psychologists, and marketers to work together to carefully manipulate your child’s food preferences.
We’re busy and want something simple, quick, and preferably inexpensive. We return to the ruts of the unhealthy foods we ate ourselves as kids or that we know our own kids will like. We feel guilty because of our busy lifestyles and don’t want to say “no” to our kids – especially if it means yet another battle.
And the last straw – we hear conflicting information about what is healthy. High carb or low carb? Low fat is good for kids. Low fat is bad for kids. Sugar doesn’t affect behavior. Sugar causes ADHD . Aspartame is totally safe. Airplane pilots aren’t allowed to eat foods containing aspartame because it affects their judgment.
Phew! What’s a parent to do? Thankfully, making healthier food choices is simple and clear. Increasing fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in the diet makes the diet healthier. Especially in our antibiotic-flooded age, eating foods that contain live active cultures of beneficial bacteria makes our diet healthier. Decreasing artificial chemicals in the diet and the environment, makes us all healthier.
Nutrition is not an all-or-none activity. The goal is to keep making choices that make the diet a little better.
A Stitch in Time
DDT used in the United States before 1966 may have caused an epidemic of premature births that has only now been detected! According to a fascinating study published in the July 14, 2001 issue of The Lancet, scientists who studied stored cord blood samples from mothers who had delivered at that time found elevated levels of DDT breakdown products among the group who had premature deliveries or low birth weight infants. This would make DDT responsible for a host of medical problems and the deaths of many children – but the link wasn’t proven until more than 30 years later! DDT use in the United States was stopped in 1972 because it caused reproductive damage to birds (the bald eagle and brown pelican were nearly extinct), but DDT is still widely used in developing countries for insect control. I’m certain that the dangers of some chemicals in common use in the United States today will be proven in the future. I believe that toxic chemicals are one of the biggest health threats to our children. We may not prove the links until they are grown, but we must not wait until then to provide them with safe food, water, air, homes, and schools.
On a personal note, my wife has now recovered from a very malignant form of breast cancer. She has no family history of the disease, but toxic chemicals were used on her farm when she was a child.
What we now call ‘conventional farming’ is actually something very new. In the 20th century, our naïve optimism about science led to the over-exuberant use of antibiotics, infant formulas, surgery, pesticides, hormones, and fossil fuels. It’s time to bring this back into balance.
Organic food has long been the standard for human nutrition. In contrast, many chemicals and hormones introduced post World War II do not have proven long-term safety. Some of them may be fine. Time will tell. I prefer organic for children where there is a good choice.
An excerpt of an article written by Alan Greene, MD, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, Attending Pediatrician at Packard Children’s Hospital, and Senior Fellow at the University California San Francisco Center for the Health Professions. He is also founder of DrGreene.com and author of Raising Baby Green: The Earth-Friendly Guide to Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby Care.
Courtesy of Healthy Child Healthy World: a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit inspiring parents to protect young children from harmful chemicals.