Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Junk in the Trunk

Since I'm beginning to tire of the redundant and futile machinations of the politics of Washington right now, I'm going to broaden this out a bit and cover a few things that are percolating on the edge of politics, but aren't front-and-center crap.

And yes, I'm willing to title this post about children's health with a shot at the First Lady's ass. Although the last time I saw it in a picture, I had no complaints. I'll not go further, as I'd have to be crude (and you know I can be crude (think Michelle, Sarah Palin, and lots of leather)).  And it vaguely relates to the rest of the subject, so....

Michelle Obama was on Huckabee last weekend talking about childhood obesity (and that's all the links that Huck-a-Duck is gonna get).  Essentially, she's using the role of the First Lady to attack what is a continuing and significant problem.  And I've got my 2 cents to add (and my general support for her in this).  And since my ideas are for individuals, this is to supplement, not replace Michelle's initiative.

There are three things that I can say need to be targeted here:  helicopter parents, electronic rec, and HFCS.

The helicopter parent issue is simple (free-range rant coming).  If you're hovering and structuring and trying to keep your kids close so they don't get dragged off into the bushes to be killed, raped, and eaten by Stranger Danger, then they don't get the opportunity to run free in the neighborhood.  I think about what it was like when I was a kid.  I was left to my devices much of the time, which meant when the weather was warm enough, I was outside.  I will disclaim that I lived in the country, outside a small town, but even in town, I would roam the neighborhood, play on railroad tracks, ride amongst cars.  My father beat this when he was a kid because he'd stone other kids, shoot .22 rifles in the basement (into a dirt section of the basement) and set shit on fire, but that's another story.  While it isn't that bad around here, there are far too many people that keep the kids on a leash (occasionally literally) so they can't run.  And running burns calories.

The electronics is simple enough.  First came the idiot box, AKA the TV.  When there was only the one in the living room, it was quite easy to monitor the kids and their need to watch shit explode and dance.  Then came video games.  Then came the Internet.  Then came the portable systems.  And if these were all available when I was a kid, I could have been a fat bastard.  So that means two simple rules:  No electronics in the bedroom, and if the sun is shining, get out!  Banning them from the tech will be insane

HFCS, high fructose corn syrup, is representative of the whole snack culture.  I use it because I dropped 10 pounds by just eliminating that from my diet. But it's the reliance on cheap processed foods as sustenance in place of fresh foods and variety that allows us to put on the calories (we're back to Mrs Obama's focus now).      Now this is not to say that every drop of Mountain Dew (aka Mountain Piss) should be purged from the refrigerator, the pantry should only be stocked with stuff that can rot in under a month, and McDonalds should go out of business because it's the equivalent of stapling blubber to your ass, but it is, as always, a matter of moderation and variety.  And since we all tend to be a little busy (which is why food-in-a-box is so appealing), then I have the prescription.

First, don't stock the fatty foods.  You can stock a little (I have to get a box of candy (or 2 (or 3) now and then every week), but if you never run out of Doritos, they're going to keep eating the Doritos.  And if it means spending the pop money on bottled water (which is what I did) then you'll spend a little less for something that comes out of the tap, but they won't be sugaring up.  And when you have a picky eater (I've got one who's entire menu would be smaller than this paragraph), they're going to eventually get hungry enough to try something (hasn't quite worked yet for me, but that doesn't mean I'll stop).

Second, fast food is a treat, or an emergency convenience.  If you're eating there daily, you've got a problem. And while your child doesn't need a stick of butter to fit his ass through the doorway as you do, if you keep cramming Crappy Meals in them (with the fries and a Coke, not apple dippers and milk), then imagine what will happen when they become a lazy teenager (and their ass balloons). Besides, if you won't eat that crap, why are you filling your kids with it?

Third, rather than letting the kids sit around and bitch about being bored (especially if it sucks outside, set them to making the food.  Sure, you'll have to supervise, and in the event you're grease-frying (if you can bake it, it's healthier), the kids should be staying the hell away, but cutting food, adding mixing stuff, stirring the water pot (definitely supervised if they're young, as mine are) are all skills that they need to learn, and will result in them learning how to cook and understanding what food is.  And then you don't have to play mindless games with them.  And you can have some blog time (to read me, of course) while they do most of the work (I'm not quite there yet, because knives and preschoolers is tricky (but doable in some circumstances) business.

Finally, while initiatives that originate with government (Michelle says hers is not a top down government plan) are one way to attack the problem, fighting childhood obesity is really something that can't be solved unless we, as parents and adults take the responsibility, and lean our own asses in the process.


Shaw Kenawe said...

Good post Patrick.

We have busy lives. Yes. Of course.

But not as busy as my Grandmother's was. She immigrated to America from Sicily with 6 kids and no husband (he died here in America before she was able to make the crossing.)

She moved into a cold water flat, no dish washer, no bathroom, no car, no washing machine and 6 kids. You want to talk about "no time?" But she managed to feed her children whole healthy food, even while having to work, and do all the household jobs without any modern conveniences.

I don't take "I'm busy" as an excuse to keep one's children on processed and fast food and on the path to obesity, diabetes (and now docs are finding children with high cholesteral, which could result in childhood heart disease.

Why? Because we allow parents to use "I'm so busy" as an excuse to set their children on the path of lifetime illnesses.

If children are introduced to whole foods, they eat them and love them. I remember living next door to a French family who lived in the US for 2 years. One day I stopped by to visit and saw the 3 little ones--ages 6 and 4 (twins) salivating as their mother placed liver pate on the table with a loaf of French bread she had made herself. Les enfants dug into the pate making sounds of "ummm" as they slathered it on the warm bread.

I learned at that moment that it is we parents who teach our children to love sugar, salt, and crap foods, because that is what we offer them from the time they are babies.

Liver pate wasn't the only food these children gobbled up that any American child would have turned away from, gagging.

I found it depressing and outrageous that two of the biggest sponsors of the recent Olympics were McDonald's and Coca Cola--two of the corporations that have spent millions and millions of $$$ on advertising and getting people to believe the crap they're pushing is good for them.

McDonald's and Coca Cola, probably more than any other junk food producers, have contributed to the poor health of Americans.

Both brands are known worldwide and associated with America--crap that'll make you sick if you consume it in the quantities that Americans do.

rockync said...

I agree with Shaw, great post. If we could eliminate one thing from the American food chain I would vote for high fructose corn syrup. This garbage is in almost every processed food available.
In the end, it is the responsibility of parents to make the effort.

Patrick M said...

I wouldn't go so far as to eliminate HFCS. Like the commercials for HFCS indicate, it's all about moderation. The problem is that with it in everything, it's sooooooo easy to blow the modification out of the water.

I once heard that the secret to avoiding the bad stuff is to only shop the outer walls of the grocery store, because you find the veggies, the meat, and the dairy on them, and all the processed stuff in the middle. It does make some sense, although you do have to head in them for flour (especially bread flour) and pasta and rice.

And with the exception of a party, if you're getting more that one or two items in a week from the pop and chip aisle , aka the aisle of caloric death, you're just asking for young fatbodies.

Toad734 said...

Lets not forget the cost of all that HFCS both in Agricultural subsidies ($800 Billion annually) and the strain obesity, diabetes, etc. puts on our health care system thus raising insurance premiums...Not to mention that since it is subsidized, it is used as a cheap filler in foods that might otherwise have something other than empty calories.

Finally, over the last 2 years or so, its fairly easy to find bread that is specifically labeled "No High Fructose Corn Syrup" but that bread still has sugar in it. Sucrose though gets processed by your body with better results than Fructose and not only that, at least these types of breads are usually wheat or whole grain and thus not empty calories and or carbs.

Most cereal has sugar but that's another place kids get a lot of calories but the shit with the nuts and real honey is almost always better than the sugary/HFCS shit.

Obviously coke and pepsi are probably the largest source of HFCS in the American diet along with the cheap fast food that uses it as a filler.

What I don't get is that sugar is also subsidized. Isn't that like robbing Peter to pay Paul?

Same as subsidizing tobacco and then giving subsidized medicare to deal with the health problems from tobacco, HFCS, sugar, etc. Makes no sense.

Oh, and if you want to factor in the illegal immigration and drug wars in Mexico you can also blame that on the subsidizing of corn as Mexico's corn farmers aren't subsidized and have been completely put out of business by American farmers, aside from broom corn.

What do you think those out of work farmers do when they can't grow corn?? Grow or traffic drugs or hop the fence to find work in the US.

In other words, Ag subsidies should be a conservatives biggest enemy, not health care. But a lot of conservatives are from the corn belt, tobacco belt or places that depend on farming as a way of life and therefor ending the Ag subsidies is a direct threat to their lively hood as they would have to compete on the open market and would actually have to grow a profitable crop.

Toad734 said...

But ya, if you just burn more calories than you consume, you will be fine. The problem is that with things like HFCS and processed foods and shit like the McGriddle, you can easily consume a days worth of calories in one meal. Ever been to the Cheesecake Factory?? But certainly helicopter parents, tv, video games and the internets make it hard to burn those calories...even though it is likely not human other than marathon runners, pro athletes and porn stars could possibly burn so many calories in one day.

As adults, sitting on our ass all day in front of a computer doesn't help either. I don't see a lot of fat roofers for instance.

NINTHMAN. said...

Of course all the Lefties are going to pat you on your back, they all think that Michelle Obama is God gift to the the World.

But the truth is that not only is it bad enough we got one Obama in our faces 24/7.. now we're forced to listen to his bitter half, too.
That two face fat ass bitch told me everything I needed to know about her. We're just as ashamed of her now as we ever were, and just as ashamed of her as she is her Country.
Well, for the first time in my life, I'm not proud of our first lady.

Who gives a crap what she thinks about Obesity, she also thinks her husband is doing a wonderful job. so, I'd take her statement with a grain of salt. Maybe she should just shut her fat trap hole and let America decide important issues!
And with a big ass like her's she's a fine one to talk about Obesity

Shaw Kenawe said...

WOW! Doesn't it look like it's NINTHMAN who's bitter?

NINTHMAN is certainly tied up in knots over the First Lady's campaign to help our American children stay healthy, and so he needs to tell us that she's a "two face fat ass bitch" to get us to understand what a villanous woman she really is.

And who would know that better than NINTHMAN?!

I guess people need to feel powerful, and this is NINTHMAN's way of showing off his nads--calling the president's wife and the mother of his two little girls a "two face fat ass bitch," who "should just shut her fat trap hole."

Well you sure showed her, didn't you, NINTHMAN! We know who to be afraid of now!

It's going to be a long, long 3 years for NINTHMAN. I suggest a lot of strong liquor and many more bags of Cheetos to ease the pain.

Z-man said...

" food is a treat or an emergency convenience."

Half the time when I went to Mickie D's it was for this reason alone, pressed for time, whatever. Many years ago I was trout fishing and got lost in the woods for the better part of the day and towards nightfall when I finally got out and found my car first thing was head to a McDonald's, apples and pears didn't even cross my mind but that's different. You have people today especially young urban folk who I swear eat there three times a day. They think you have all the major food groups they learned about in Health Class covered, you have your dairy and eggs for breakfast and in milk shakes, your fish in your Filet-O-Fish (can someone stop that talking bass already!) and your meat of course. Nothing against McDonald's, eat there maybe twice a week tops but these people are urban losers and I'm including your white trash here too just so as not to offend.

Toad734 said...


Yes, women should be seen not heard, just like Laura Bush.

Oh, and apparently we all care what she thinks about obesity because it sounds like we are all on the same page... So, that's who.