It has been a very interesting stretch of time since my last entry. I won’t bore you with it*, but I do apologize for seemingly abandoning my post. During that time, I had the pleasure of being present on two separate occasions where the friend (two different friends) that I was with turned to another person and spontaneously began bragging on my blog to said person(blush!) It was just the kick in the pants that I needed to kick the crack pipe aside and get back to work!
In reflecting back on the difficulty that I have had making the time to write this entry over the past month, I realize that it is partly the subject that has made me drag my proverbial feet. It is one that I am very passionate about, but that does not usually win me any popularity contests. In fact, it got me in trouble just yesterday. I got called mean. By a Minister. Ouch.
In my last post, How to Eat So Your Kids Will Listen, we spoke about self discipline as a means of setting up a model for good habits in children (please review it…it’s been too long, and most of us do not have enough Omega 3s in our diet to remember). I promised you that I would continue our talk on discipline and how to teach children to not eat themselves into an early grave. Keep in mind for all of you wonderful people out there who do not necessarily have biological children of your own that I could mean children that are your nieces or nephews, or children that you teach in school, that are your neighbors, etc. My children interact with adults on a daily basis who offer them such a profound amount of junk food (the bank, liquor store, school you name it), that they need all of the positive role models that they can get wherever we go…
So now, how to help children eat better. This is the biggest question that I get from my many friends and clients, and my answers may frustrate the hell out of you, but it all comes down to you. Until they can get into a car and drive to the grocery store with several hundred dollars in their pocket, I’d say you have the upper hand in the situation. I have literally done a pantry makeover for a family, thrown out all of the junk cereal and processed foods in their closet, only to go back to their house the next week and see everything we threw away right back in there again (you know who you are!) I asked her if the parent who was not present was the offending shopper, ready to blame her husband for screwing up her plans to get healthier. And she said, “Nope, it was me.” This astounds me. If I do not want my children to eat something, they don’t get it from me (I can’t claim to have 100% control over them when they leave my house, nor do I wish to). Your kids will eat or not eat what is or is not in the house. Mine don’t eat cookies or ice cream more than a few times a year because that’s how rarely they are in my house. For my family, self discipline is about knowing we can buy these things or make them and choosing not to.
“But my kids really like dessert/Applejacks/Icecream/_____!” Tough! That’s like saying “But my drug addicted cousin really loves crystal meth.” Think that’s an extreme metaphor? It’s not. Sugar is as addictive to the body as drugs. So, love your kids enough to detox them. They need your tough love. And that means that you need to be a brick wall when kids push back on you. I get into a lot of trouble that way. (that’s why I got called mean last night). But I don’t give in to push backs. Push backs are not only to be expected, they are a test. Kids don’t really expect you to be a pushover when they push back on you, no matter how angry they are. You see, that is an aspect of child psychology that many people do not know. Even when children scream and rage against you, they are testing your foundation to make sure that it is strong so that they know that they are in a safe place. Are you passing the test? If you give in, and allow yourselves to be “pushed over,” then on the surface you might see a happy child with a cookie, but underneath the surface is the knowledge that their safety net is weak, or for you Christians, your foundation is built on sand, not rock. I learned this behavior with children who were chronically ill in the hospital. The children who had the best coping skills to manage their fear and pain were the ones whose parents would still discipline them and not let them act like brats to the staff, even though they were “sick kids” in the hospital. The Varucca Salts, who got away with murder, definitely suffered more psychologically and probably even physically. It's not a coincidence.
How you do food is how you will do Life. And how you do Life is how you will do food. So if you want your children to be happy and self-disciplined in school, sports, music, health promotion, illness management, business, relationships, marriage, etc, all of these lessons will apply. What are you going to teach them? That immediate gratification is more valuable than lifelong health and vigor? That self-discipline is hard and not worth learning? That long-term frustration is good enough for them, because you didn’t show them the value of delayed gratification to go for better things? If you think that I am making a mountain out of a molehill, that is the essence of what The Compound Effect (Darren Hardy) teaches us. Molehills become Mountains over time and we never see them coming until it is too late.
People need to listen to an idea 6 or 7 times before they really hear it. Children (and some adults) need to taste a new food/flavor/texture 6 or 7 times before they really taste it, get used to it, don’t gag on it, don’t hate it, however you want to spin it I don’t care. The goal here is putting nutritious whole food into your body and keeping processed carbs and sugar out of it. If you are just joining us, see some of my earlier posts about foods to embrace and foods to avoid. So, at the risk of sounding mean, (I’m a big girl, I can take it) I’m going to say this as nicely as possible:
Suck it up. Become a brick wall. You are 100% responsible for your health and largely responsible for the future health of your children until they can take over. And I say that to you with all of the love in my heart.
Currently Reading: Oh who I am I kidding? I have not read a damn thing. I am on autopilot these days. I have a stack of books a mile high next to my bed, but this summer we have very few obligations, and I intend to catch up on many of them.
*migraines. Lots of them.