(Warning – this post may appear to be simply a rant, but it is in fact my heart crying out for our children. Please read it that way.)
I have spent a significant amount of time as an adult re-educating myself about food and exercise. I have spent countless months trying to re-program my body to not want to eat sweets. I have worked very hard to come to a point where I enjoy exercise and can’t imagine going without it for more than a couple of days. I continue to spend money on food that costs more because it is healthier and can’t believe how much cheaper it would be if I ate badly. And I am really trying to teach my children these things so that they don’t face the same trials I have faced when it comes to food and exercise.
And because this is something I am passionate about, I have some major questions about food and activity choices that are going on at homes and schools around our country.
- Why do we give food-based rewards?
- Why do schools show movies during recess (or even worse P.E., which, after all does stand for PHYSICAL EDUCATION) – Is 30 degrees going to kill them? Is water on the playground going to hurt them?
- Chocolate milk, really?
- Sweet snacks during testing? How about offering some REAL food – fruits, veggies, etc.
- Why do we need to bring candy, cookies, and cupcakes to school for every occasion (birthdays, Valentine’s Day, etc.)?
- Can’t we have a party without ice cream or pizza or sweets of some kind? Or a party that lets them play outside on the playground instead of watching a movie inside?
- And I suppose at least if they are going to play video games, Just Dance is an active one, and I applaud that as a better reward than ice cream and candy, but video games in school?
I am afraid that we are raising up yet another generation of obese, lazy people who don’t know how to eat right, exercise or even how to approach food. Food is not a reward, it is a necessity for our bodies to function. Bad food in, bad body function. Good food in, good body function, good brain function, etc. We need to be educating our children both at home and in our schools so they have a healthy view of health – which includes a healthy view of food, exercise, and life choices.
My kids and I continually talk about the fact that I am not withholding food from them and that it is not punishment to be sugar-free for 3 months, instead it is a learning experience whereby we can find out that we don’t need it. And if they learn these things as children, my hope is that they never have to blog about their weight-loss journey because they never have the need to go on that journey. I don’t want them to be obsessed with the scale like I can be at times. I want them to live long, healthy, happy lives. I want them to eat healthily and exercise because it will help ward off heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and so many other diseases that can be caused by our bad food, exercise and health choices, but I want them to do it because they want to and they enjoy it, not because they have to.
But I can only do so much when my kids are being bombarded with messages at school that go contrary to what I am telling them and showing them at home.
But what do I do about it? Where do I even begin to change a flawed system full of people who have different ideals than me? How do we spread the word that education is about more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic. More than about doing well on tests. More than about simply finishing an assignment and getting a piece of candy for doing it.
Education should be whole. When kids are learning about the body and how it works, shouldn’t they be learning about nutrition and being offered nutritious foods? When kids are learning how to play a game in P.E., shouldn’t they be learning that it isn’t just about the game but about staying active? Shouldn’t kids be learning that there is satisfaction that comes from completing something that you are supposed to do, and not be bribed with candy to do something they needed to do anyway?
I have way more questions than answers about this subject, but this is where my mind has been lately and I am not sure where to go with it.
I am sure you all have opinions as well. What do you think? Where do you fall? What would you do?
Let’s talk about it. Leave me your comments and questions in the comments section of this blog. Maybe we can come up with some answers.