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I’m on a food kick. I admit it. I have been enlightened by the movie Food Inc. which focuses on our country’s food industry and it has started leading me in interesting directions. I am suddenly more attuned to the goings on in our media and schools in regard to food and health. I feel inspired to help our children get back to healthier ways.
I realize that McDonald‘s supports the Olymipcs and the company’s money must help tremendously to pull off this enormous endeavor. However, I find the McDonald’s commercials aired during the Olympics completely insulting. Are the top athletes of the world really eating chicken McNuggets and McDonald’s food as part of their training diet. Really? My husband said that the commercial should actually say something to the effect of “Let’s face it you’ll never be an Olympic athlete so you might as well eat some McNuggets”.
As an endurance runner and triathlete, I know that what I put into my body affects my training. What I eat before, during and after each workout will affect my next workout, my energy, my muscle recovery and my sleep. It seems unethical to make the claim that McDonald’s is the type of food that champions eat. Is it not the same as the cigarette industry using actors smoking in movies as a method to promote its product to kids? It seems wrong.
I suppose that the athletes that sign these sponsorship deals are also partially to blame though they are young and perhaps vulnerable to the sudden limelight. Which leads me to my second rant that also involves the young and vulnerable.
My children’s elementary school is most likely not very different than yours. The school lunches are really just fast food. The kids have a mere 20 minutes to wolf down their lunch. The cafeteria menus are filled with Tyson chicken products, pizza, burgers and hot dogs—basically your standard highway stop food. I am not sure if this is the case in other states or schools, but at our elementary school the kids can also buy extra items besides the entrees like pretzels, chips, ice cream, fruit roll ups and gummies to name a few. Is it really OK to give your children this option at such an impressionable age when they don’t have full impulse control.
The way our school handles lunch is to hand the children pre-paid lunch atm cards. The website MyNutriKids.Com helps a parent track the money their child spends and it allows parents to see, to a limited extent, what is being purchased. Would you as a parent ever give your child of 5-11 years old a credit card and let them go into a store to buy whatever they want? That is what we are doing; sometimes on a daily basis. Not only do we give our kids free reign to buy whatever they want but we are introducing them to buying things on credit (yes, it is a debit card but the point is that money is not being exchanged and they have no way to connect their purchases to the money on their cards). In my school district, you can get back some control of the situation by calling the cafeteria or school lunch director to request specific food items to be forbidden for your child to purchase. I wonder how many parents take that step.
The chef Jamie Oliver has won a TED award for trying to change the world by attacking childhood obesity. Watch his incredible video here.
He has been making strides to change school lunches in both England and American, he has started a tv series called “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” which debuts on Friday March 26th on ABC. Check out his website to see what you can do to help.
There is a huge drive to connect children with food and where it comes from and how it’s made which is a good step in creating healthy eaters and bodies. In the above mentioned speech by Jamie Oliver, he went into a school in West Virginia and the kids could not identify vegetables. It was astounding. Like Oliver, another notable chef, Alice Waters, has made strides in food education. She began a program called the Edible Schoolyard which educate students in all aspects of growing, harvesting and preparing seasonal produce. Watch her inspiring video and see how you can make a difference in your community.
As consumers and parents, I believe it is our responsibility to make our voice heard in the realm of our children’s health. The market is dictated by the consumer and we can make a difference if we educate ourselves and the generations to follow and by putting our money where our mouths are.
I just returned from a wonderful ski trip to Mt. Tremblant in Quebec with my family. You could tell upon arrival that this was going to be an amazing vacation. We were staying in the ski village a stones throw from the base of the mountain and lift. The village had a European charm with shops, restaurants and apres skiing activities. The weather warmed up to the mid-twenties from its usual below zero temps. We could not have been happier.
But why write about my ski trip on my yoga blog? Because although I did not end up taking out my mat that I packed with my ski gear, yoga made its presence on this trip.
We skied long days, and compared to our local mountain, we skied endlessly long runs. I found myself feeling great after each day on the slopes. My legs rarely felt the burn from the constant work that they were doing and I never fell. OK, I did. But it was after my daughter forgot to stand up to get off the lift and ended up flying through the air and landing on me.
I credit yoga for my leg strength, agility and balance. Warrior poses, chair pose and sequences that stay on one leg seemingly forever are the perfect conditioning for skiing. Hip openers, like pigeon, help loosen one’s hips enabling the body to turn from its legs instead of forcing the upper body to initiate the turn. The core power gained from poses like boat, locust and twists create a foundation of strength that keeps you aligned, steady and ready for sudden movement shifts which can help you avoid accidents. I was very present during each run down the mountain. My mind and body were focused but relaxed—the same sensation that I get in class on my mat.
On our last day of skiing, my six-year-old daughter was following us down trails. Encountering our first black diamond together two days before, she panicked and ended up taking off her skies and sliding down on her bottom. On this day, however, she was determined to keep up with us all, and surprised us by fearlessly following the family down very difficult slopes. At the end of the day she told me that she took some deep breaths and told herself to stop thinking. Before each black slope she cleared her head of her fear and just went for it. I heard her talking herself down some of the tough spots with positive affirmations. The pride she felt was palpable as she not only kept up with us but conquered the fear that took up space in her head.
As a parent and teacher, it sometimes feels as though no one is really listening. Yes, I was very proud of my daughter, but it was not for going down those black diamonds. Seeing my daughter take control of her thoughts and connect her breathing, her mind and her body made me feel like I just coached an athlete to a gold medal in the Olympics. Though I hope my daughter enjoys skiing forever, I know now that she has learned some powerful skills that will help her throughout the black diamonds of her life.
Here are two great articles about yoga for skiers:
I have food issues. It started yesterday. I have been watching 30 minute snippets of the movie Food Inc. while on the treadmill and am just appalled by what I am learning about food in our country. This idea that our food comes from idyllic farms with cows and chickens grazing on green pastures is all an illusion. Our farms have turned factories and these factories are created to make a product at a profit. The health of the animals and the people that eat them and the safety of the farmers that tend to them are not as high on the priority list as making a cheap product. How the food that we eat and rely on for our nutrition and health has become an engineered product is frightening.
I will not go into the details of the film or book. I encourage people to investigate on their own. Personally, I will be making some lifestyle choices for myself and my family including making vegetables and fruit the focus of the meal with proteins as the side. The protein I use will be farm raised, free-ranged, organic and local (if possible). I will not be eating meat out at restaurants unless I know it is grown locally or free-range and organic.
My biggest frustration is that there is so much junk in school cafeterias. We see a rise in childhood obesity and allergies and yet still provide school cafeterias with Tyson brand chicken products, sugared up Intense Milk, and other equally unhealthy options. Tyson chicken might claim to be baked but it doesn’t get to the bottom of why this type of chicken isn’t good for us. Tyson is one of a few chicken “manufacturers” in the country. The power these companies yield is ridiculous. Again, investigate more about how these chickens (and the farmers that raise them) are treated. I don’t want to disgust anyone reading this so I will just send out the idea that it is worth looking into. More over, it is even more worthwhile to pack your kids lunches and take back control of what is feeding their brains and bodies. I don’t see an end to this injustice until the consumer makes a stand. Stop buying school lunches. Demand healthy and nutritious food in schools.
Being a runner and yoga teacher, I know first hand that what you put into your body and mind affects performance. Take a stand and have a food issue. It might just be what the doctor orders.