Today’s blog is a little different to most. Don’t worry it will still have a motivational theme…
I saw something yesterday that threw me… My girlfriend and I took a leisurely Sunday drive to the Clent Hills outside Birmingham, we walked around the hills for a couple of hours and then decided to head back home for lunch. On the way back we decided to stop off at a monster Sainsbury’s shop, we got a roast chicken and some salad bits to create an epic Sunday lunch. Much needed after our walking.
We got back into my car to head home and as I turned the key the engine decided to remain quiet. There we were, alone in the car park with a chicken and little idea of how to get the car sorted. I called for breakdown to come as I figured that would be the best. As we waited for our hero to appear in his magical van and restart my car I decided to head to the cafe and get a hot drink.
I was in the queue for a while, and I studied the food menu in horror. Not because of the prices but because of the picture below. Have a look at it and see what stands out...
I’m not shocked at the choice of foods if I’m being honest, most kid’s menus are full of horrendous choices anyway. What I was and am still shocked about is the calorie count next to each meal, especially as the menu states that this is ideal for children aged 5-10 years old.
What the hell is wrong with the world? Calorie counting for children between the ages of 5 and 10 is something that has truly shocked me. Upon doing some research into this today, it seems that there is only some suggestion from government that this is a good idea, mostly they don’t seem to care. This is based on research that states that we are, as a nation, actually asking for this to be done to make healthier choices! (1) At the same time another study has indicated that only 15% of people actually used the calorie count to restrict their meals when eating out at restaurants by only 106 calories! (2) Now, looking at that menu again, it is like choosing the lesser of many evils because none of those foods are particularly healthy, and if you are telling little Timmy that the less number he eats the better, well then we are in a world of trouble.
Choosing something low in calories does not make it a healthy or unhealthy food. It just indicates the level of energy contained in said food. It is the macronutrient and micronutrient make up of the food that will determine the level of ‘health’ involved.
Regardless of the calories, macros and other labels that we seem to want plastered everywhere, and I use 'we' as a collective human race, governments, food companies and all. Why are we even having to justify the 'health levels' of any food that goes down children’s throats? Is it purely so that companies are covered legally when little Timmy dies from high cholesterol and a heart attack after eating his ‘daily allowance’ of cream pies from the local shop? - "But we warned you of the calorie count..." -
Childhood obesity is at an all time high, just with statistics in the UK alone: a quarter of 2-10 year olds are obese. One third of 11-15 year olds are overweight and obese. Chicken nuggets and pasta bake have been around longer than the idea of telling people how many calories they contain on a kids menu. When are we going to realise that the calorie count isn’t the problem and the actual processed rubbish is?
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting here writing this intent on making parents feel guilty for the choices they make when feeding their kids, although there is place for a serious re-think of what parents do give their kids everyday. In my view stress is the number one contributing factor in poor decision making, having a full time job, managing money and a household as well as providing good nutritious food for everyone can be a stressful task. We talk with our wallets and within surveys, if we are being asked if caloric information would help make an informed decision and we say 'yes' then companies will act on it. What you can’t bet on is the chefs that decide to give you a menu full of crappy options for you to feed little Timmy with.
I can also guarantee you that taking little Timmy to the emergency rooms 15 times a year because he can’t keep fighting infections and colds or has heart problems because he is obese will cause more stress than teaching him the value of good food. In fact if you read a book called Spark by John J Rately you’ll understand how promoting healthy eating and exercise in children can actually change their behaviour and improve interactions with others as young humans.
We are only as good as the information we look into, investigate and act upon, right now that menu is telling me that we have kids that are going to be growing up worrying about calories and not thinking about the rich abundant food that lies in the fruit and vegetable aisles of the supermarkets.
This obesity crisis in children and in general is not here because we lack information on diet, exercise and wellbeing. We are more able to read blogs, follow nutritional gurus and connect with people like myself who have lost weight many times over. The crisis is down to choice, we have the beautiful, wonderful, most awesome ability of free will - we need to harness that for the good of everyone.
We don’t need a menu to tell us what numbers add up, we need to wake up and realise that all these choices on that menu suck!
I chose to eat 20 cheeseburgers one evening when I was big, McDonalds didn’t have to tell me the calories of 20 burgers for me to know that I’d made a bad decision to order them. I knew it was but I was lazy, hungry and didn't really think of the consequences.
The choice is yours today to make your day healthier and happier. I can’t make you do it, I just write blogs and hope that they resonate with every reader; maybe enough to plant a seed so that some day things for you change. The same way I can’t make my clients lose weight or eat better, I can simply provide as much support and information as I can.
Last week I added a new video category to the We Move Fitness package on this website - this category is called “Family Workouts” and there is a video in there ready and waiting for families to enjoy - this is the first phase of introducing health, not only to individuals who need guidance, but to families looking to make a healthy change in their lives too. If you are interested in this then there is a 30 day trial running on the We Move Fitness Package at the moment and you can try it out absolutely free by clicking here.
As I said before, I don’t intend to make parents feel guilty with this post, I’m simply here saying that I know stress and ease can create choices and habits that negatively affect our health. We talk with our wallets and food companies listen. If we buy the good foods then the bad foods will become less on the shelves, at the same time our short term sacrifice of an extra 15 minutes to prepare a healthy nutritious meal for little Timmy can save us years down the line. Trust me, I’ve been in hospital and wasted my time and the time and resources of a very strained NHS, all because I was making poor choices.
Let’s start today to make good ones for our future.
Stay Strong and Keep Moving
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Brendan is the owner and head trainer at Raw Motion Fitness.