About ten years ago, a projection came out which indicated that children born today will have a shorter projected life span than their parents. That’s never happened before in humanity! What’s going on? There are multiple factors contributing to this devastating outlook but I’d like to take a look at one I’m particularly passionate about – food!
I was public enemy number one in our house for many a month when I first removed cereals from the kitchen cupboards. With two boys used to reaching for the cereal packet and a bottle of milk each morning, my action wasn’t greeted too warmly initially I can tell you! That’s an understatement by the way…!
Over time though my seemingly crazy move has been accepted, and I’d go so far as to say understood by my family. My children even thanked me a few months ago for learning what I have about health and passing knowledge on to them. I wasn’t expecting that! It makes me smile when I hear that they’ve begun to take note of the feelings that processed foods have on their bodies – that initial high followed by a crash and hunger craving a couple of hours later.
One of the workshops I run in companies and organisations, called ‘Setting Yourself Up for a Successful Day’, focusses on how small changes in our mornings can have a HUGE impact on the rest of the day – and on our lives overall. I often take overnight oats plus an array of nuts, seeds, fruits and yoghurts along with me for people to try. For many, it’s the first time they’ve considered an alternative to the packet they habitually reach for each morning.
You see Big Food (the giant industry which is so powerful in influencing our tastes and attitudes) has been remarkably effective at convincing us that processed foods are good for us – not least for breakfast.
Did you know that cornflakes were the result of a food mishap whilst the two Kellogg brothers were attempting to create a healthy cracker to serve to the elder brother Dr John Harvey Kellogg’s patients? Whilst the outcome was abandoned by John, his younger brother, Will, began coating the flakes in sugar and launched it to the public as a healthy alternative to the typical US diet of eggs, bacon and potatoes.
Not surprisingly, the cornflakes health angle was later abandoned, and taste and convenience became the focus instead. Those cornflakes inspired the development of Cheerios, Froot Loops, Lucy Charms and a host of other cereals featuring cartoon characters, dessert ingredients and spoonfuls of sugar!
Back to the title above…
I doubt many of us would feed our children a bowl of biscuits or marshmallows for breakfast and yet we readily buy cereal. So why is this?
A key marketing trick was to fortify the cereals with vitamins and minerals. Anything with 25% of your recommended daily allowance for those micronutrients must be ok – right? The problem is that most fortified foods are processed so whilst they may have some vitamins and minerals thrown in there, it does nothing to take away from the fact that they are often packed with sugar, excess sodium, artificial flavourings, dyes, inflammatory fats, processed starches, and preservatives.
So, perhaps it’s time to rethink what we’re serving up to our young people. The brilliant thing these days is there is no shortage of food inspiration online and on social media.
In our house, breakfast favourites include:
Eggs – simple and nutritious, great with spinach, mushrooms etc
Peanut butter on wholemeal, seeded or sourdough toast
Homemade muesli packed with seeds and nuts
Berries, oats and Greek yoghurt + chia & flax seeds
Smoothies with oats & seeds
If we can get that first meal of the day right then there is reduced chance of sugar crashes and cravings, energy levels are higher and food choices later in the day should be better.
Food literally is medicine and has the potential to turn up and down our genes.
Let’s make sure we’re giving our kids the best chance at health and changing those shocking stats for the better!
This blog was inspired by reading 'Feeding You Lies' by Vani Hari.