My eldest, Venti (yes, her younger sisters are Grande and Tall), is an active kid. Varsity cheerleader (which in this day and age requires astonishing athleticism) with a good sense of how to eat right — when she so chooses. And this latter caveat is the problem for just about everyone in her generation.
Earlier this week she, along with her mother and I, committed to doing a Whole30. I’ll be posting about our experiences on this journey, but in a nutshell: for the next thirty days we will be taking great care to ingest, essentially, no sugar of any kind. Now, of course that’s not exactly true as we will have some fruit and the like. But the point is that if it is a food which has been processed and which the body will recognize as a sugar — so this includes grains, rices, dairies, and the like in addition to the obvious sugars, syrups, and -cose additives — it is off the menu.
I promise, I will get into the philosophy and reasoning, the science, the health, the yatta yatta, in later posts. I promise. It’s important and I won’t leave you hanging.
But for now, just today, I want to touch upon the challenge she as a teenager faces and, more importantly, what it means for her generation.
The first day of her commitment to this no sugar month, she was offered brownies in three of her classes. Any one of them is likely to have, on average, 3-4 teaspoons of sugar. After school and before cheer practice, the girls hop in the car and hit Starbucks (why not?) for a Grande Caramel Macchiato. Which contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar.
But these are treats, you say. These are not the daily intake.
Right. Sure. Tell me another.
We live in a world where there is always something to celebrate. There is always some brownie or cookie or Starbucks run happening. And we want to celebrate Life. And so we go for it.
And — please pay attention to this — the kids think this is how we are supposed to live.
And if they’ve bought in to the idea that this is how we are supposed to live, and yet they are supposed to look like Victoria’s Secret models, how can we expect anything other than A) a gross lack of self esteem, B) eating disorders, C) disease, D) all of the above.
But okay, let me grant you the utterly unrealistic notion that the above is all uncommon.
Lunchmeat? Sugar added.
Salad dressing? Sugar added.
Coke? Don’t be stupid.
And what about “zero-calorie” drinks and “fat free” options? My rant on these specific items is far too long for this post. Don’t get me started. Just recognize it for what it is: Poison. For real. Maybe a small dose of poison, but poison all the same. Don’t go down that road. If you want to know more, ask, and I’ll explain in a later post.
I was recently in a restaurant, one of my favourites, and ordered the burger. As I am joining Venti on this challenge, I had the burger ‘clean’ — no bun, no cheese, no ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise. First, let me reassure you: it was delicious (my mouth is watering at the moment, actually, as I remember it). I had it topped with sautéd mushrooms, tomato, lettuce, onion, and jalapeños. I had thought to add guacamole, as well, but the restaurant adds sugar to their guac recipe.
Which actually made me angry. Not that I couldn’t have the guac, but that there is this weird belief that everything needs to be sweeter.
We are all being provided horrible food options, but as grown ups we should take responsibility for ourselves. What I find unforgivable is that we are actively teaching our kids to embrace the very habits which lead them to ill health, and scratching our heads over the resulting epidemic.
I’m proud of my kid for her courage to face the heart of this problem. It’s not an eating disorder. It’s not a lack of self esteem.
It’s exactly the opposite.