Saturday, May 28, 2011

Why I cried into the mac and cheese today

I don't usually stray into personal territory on here - it is a kid's nutrition blog after all. However, today I had one of those moments of clarity that reminded me why you bother.

I was chopping up brocolli into suitably small pieces to hide in macaroni and cheese and I thought to myself - why do I always make such an effort to squeeze an extra vege into everything? I know there are lots of people out there who eat mac and cheese minus the greens as a normal meal and in fact I'm pretty sure we did as kids sometimes for lunch growing up (Dad didn't think pasta was an appropriate dinner food). We also often had pizza, fish and chips or cheese toasted sandwiches for dinner and my sister and I are healthy people with great attitudes to food and eating right. This is certainly no criticism of my wonderful mother who is also an excellent cook, it's just that sometimes Mum was tired and Dad was a big supporter of takeaways.

Then it hit me, it's not even just about what kids need to eat and how they learn about food. It's about what the parents eat too. Dad died of bowel cancer - surely one of the most diet-linked ways along with heart disease and other obesity-related illnesses. Dad wasn't obese or anything, he just really liked refined crap like donuts, hot dogs and pretty much anything that had been deep fried and now he's not here to see my son grow up and do all the things that a grandfather should havea chance to do.

This might not have made me me cry in a normal week but as I am pregnant and full of whatever hormones that makes you overloaded with, it was all a bit much. At the very least it was a good reminder about why I try so hard - I want to be here as long as I can and I want this for the family as well. It's worth the effort.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I'm not a scientist but...

As you may have guessed from the theme of this blog, I can't help but read articles about nutrition when I stumble across them and Sunday papers are a popular host for this topic. So this morning I was reading the Sunday magazine of the Age newspaper, I was drawn to an article by Michelle Bridges, of Biggest Loser fame, about whether genetics plays a role in weight problems (sadly it's not online yet so I can't make the link).

The article starts out by saying "I am not a scientist". No problem, I'm not a nutritionist either but I like discussing stuff around the food and nutrition. However, I'm a bit nervous that a series of scientific conclusions are drawn from some research that Michelle has read and the way her arguments are played out.

The thrust is that "it's not the genetic cards you've been dealt, but rather how you play them that determines much about your physical health and wellbeing." I actually like this bit of the argument as it's a good message that people can control their own health destiny and that eating right and exerising can improve your health - even if that is a bit of an obvious message.

The bit of logic that concerned me was that this therefore dispels the "fat-gene" theory which suggests some of us are incapable of losing weight. Whoa,whoa, whoa Michelle - are you trying to say that people don't have different metabolisms?? She goes on to note that the Biggest Loser trainers manage to get weight off people even when they claimed nothing worked. Sure they did, but these contestants had also never been able to take 12 weeks off work before to exercise and be cooked healthy, nutritious meals all day, every day.

I think it's a important, and only fair, to acknowledge that some people find it much harder to lose weight than others and that this is kind of a "fat gene", and that this means some people need more or less food and exercise than others. I think we've all met someone who can shovel it in and be rake thin (I live with one of these people). Metabolism rates are real and shouldn't be dismissed as a lame excuse.

Recognising different metabolisms seems to me to be such an important thing when you're feeding kids too. It's easy to worry that you're little guy is eating too much when he has had three breakfasts when you've just met someone who said their kid wouldn't even have a cup of milk in the morning. However, kids seem to know better than grown ups what their bodies need (when offered reasonable food choices of course).

It seems to me that teaching kids to eat and drink when they're hungry is an important step in making sure that they have a healthy attitude to food into the future. But as I said, I'm not a nutritionist...