How we develop nasty eating habits during childhood

People always feel the need to blame their weight gain on something that is completely out of their control.

"It isn't my fault, I stuck to my diet all day, and then the pizza ad came on T.V.- I couldn't help myself!",

"What can I do? Mum cooked mac and cheese, it would have been rude to refuse",

"With my hectic lifestyle, how do you expect me to find time for the gym??"

And then by far the most commonly used scapegoats for being fat:

"It's all because of my Genetics!" - the easy route; blame the parents.

While there are a few of us that are really obese because of our genetics, a study done by Peninsula Medical School at the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth has suggested that behavioral factors have a greater influence on a child's weight. That is, the eating habits and patterns that were planted in our social development process by mum and dad. So technically, it could be your parent's fault, but are you doing anything about it? Granted, it is extremely difficult to break old habits. But the sooner you realize that you may have grown up on the unhealthy side of the road, the sooner you can cross over to the other side.

The vast progression in technological development, has brought on its regression. The fact is that society is obsessed with having their kids reach high academic achievements, has led us to become fat and food dependent. This could all be a phase- for all we know, a global health-wake up call might occur, one that would ban certain amounts of greasy and sugary goodies, but seriously, how likely could that be? We want to have our cake AND eat it. Scientists are paid an arm and a leg every day to find cures for rare and life-threatening diseases to protect our sacred asses, while we devour our way to obesity and cardiovascular disease.

Nowadays, especially in developed countries, it is more likely to find families where both the parents are working (I have nothing against that, in fact I always hope the world keeps striving towards gender equality). However, it's extremely important to set parents' priorities straight.

In this modern age, after children come home from school, they heat up a TV dinner in the microwave, eat, and watch their favorite show. When the parents arrive, the kids will methodically go to their room and start their homework or chores. The truth is, we don't have time to cook complex meals, so we rely on packaged and microwaveable goodies- this process is close to inevitable, unless you can afford a full-time nanny. The sluggish behavior of children is derived from substituting a human guardian with the hypnotic effects of T.V.

It's no secret amongst parents, that they rely on the television and internet to keep their children occupied if they want some time for themselves. For older people, their childhood playtime activities used to involve running around outside, playing jump rope or tag. If they had misbehaved, their punishment would involve confinement in their room. Nowadays, it's a complete contrast. Kids don't want to leave their computers, they have everything they need- an endless sea of information where they can get help with homework, free online games, instant messaging, movies and music. If a child misbehaves, the power cable of their tower is pulled out, and after two hours of belling, sobbing, and protesting, you'll give in to their devilish demands.

When it comes to child control, education, and making children recognize your authority, its a much simpler process to use food and treats as your median.

Chrissy, If you finish your Physics project today, you can have extra desserts

Ben, If you obey your grandpa, we can stop for pizza after school tomorrow

Let's face it, these methods of persuasion rarely fail. The only consequences will be an increased chance of having your child turn into an unhealthy, obese lemming. The reward-food schemes need to be halted, they're your spawn after all, not your pet dog . If their sugar addiction can't be helped, at least parents need to engage their kids into sports or dance. That way they can at least burn the extra sugar off, and have something else to do apart from playing World of Warcraft.

The parents are not all to blame. Schools and teachers are another mentionable source of bad eating habits. Teachers will often rely on giving their students small chocolate bars in order to make them pay more attention to their socio-economic-policies lecture, or even simply to show up to class! This isn't the worst part though. Cafeterias are dishing out fast food and sugary beverages to the students, reason being that in order for schools to maintain the high expenses of a typical cafeteria, they need students to buy, buy and buy. School is supposed to be this all high and mighty place that will determine your future career and income, however, it has also taken up the role of determining your body shape and eating preferences.

Parents might blame the schools for not giving enough nutritional education, but the reality is, no matter how many times you preach to the boys and girls to eat their carrots, children will surely be biased towards tasty food. Fast food companies encourage kids to eat their food through TV ads in between popular cartoons, and usually have a mascot that promotes the free gift you will get with each fast food treat. How often do we see commercials encouraging fruit and vegetables? Rarely. Very Rarely. When I do manage to see such a rare sighting, the commercial is usually poorly executed, and more than often would target older female audiences, rather than young children.

The adolescent ages can be rough, especially when all your friends hate veggies and love hot dogs. The most logical choice is to eat whatever your friends are eating, and to hate whatever your friends are hating. Doing “fun” things like birthday parties, would usually involve either a movie with a side of high calorie snacks, or a pre-booked birthday party at Pizza Hut.

If any of these situations might have been relevant to your childhood upbringing, you might notice that most of the times you keep gaining weight is due to these early developed eating habits. Letting these habits control you can be the result of an ongoing unhealthy lifestyle- If you want to become a healthy eater, you have to begin from the roots.

  • What made you start opting for high calorie foods initially?
  • Did your folks always put healthy food on the table?
  • Did they make you eat large portions from a young age?
  • Did they reward you with treats and snacks just to abide to their rules?

If so, you need to change your psychological reasoning towards food, the same reasoning that you were initially programmed with. We have a tendency of rewarding ourselves with our favorite foods if we achieve more than our target work before a deadline. Why should it be food?

If you never learned health food recipes, its never too late to start. Simply Googling “salad recipes” will return a never ending list of easy, basic recipes you can prepare in a couple of minutes.

Make yourself develop Healthy habits. Eat smaller portions, opt for water instead of soda, incorporate an aerobic class every week- get creative!


Energetic said...
August 8, 2009 at 7:15 PM

Where are you from Hannah, Let me tell you that you're beautiful...
Best regards from PerĂº!

Hannah said...
August 9, 2009 at 4:17 AM

Hey, I'm from Malta,
Thanks for coming on my blog~

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