Happy new year to all of you!  It’s this time of year that I’m reminded of what prompted me to start this blog in the first place.  As some of you may remember from previous posts, when I first transitioned to healthier eating it had very little to do with the kids and everything to do with me.  I’d had enough of feeling tired, forgetful and I refused to go up yet another jean size.  I slowly started making changes to the way I ate and noticed that over time I was feeling much more focused and had much more energy than ever before.  This peaked my interest in the topic of how food effects not only our weight, but also our body’s ability to function.  The more I read about the topic, the more I knew I needed to make some changes not only for me but also for my family.    As much as I wanted to learn about food and the role it plays in our bodies, I must admit I was little taken aback by some of the startling statistics I discovered as a result.

As you can see from the charts below the obesity rate in America has skyrocketed over the years.

In the past 20 years obesity rates in adults have doubled and for children they have tripled.  One in three children in the U.S. are obese and 40% of America’s children are overweight.  Of those children 50% of them will remain overweight into adulthood.  Not surprisingly, there has been an increase in the number of children diagnosed with hypertension, asthma, type II diabetes, sleep apnea and gallstones.  In all of my research the one statistic that really jumped out at me is that 1 in 3 children born in the United States after the year 2000 will be diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

So why is it that we find ourselves in such a predicament here in the United States?  It seems to me there is a direct correlation between obesity rates and the way our food is being manufactured.  As a nation we like food!  We want it fast, we want it now, and we want it cheap.  In order to meet the demand food manufacturers fill their food with sugar, oil, preservatives, saturated fat, and food dyes.  Because these filler foods lack the nutrients and fiber of the original food source they are incapable of sustaining people.  These foods wreak havoc on blood sugar levels and have very little, if any, ability to nourish the human body.

A few years ago as I was exploring healthier eating options for my family, I recorded our average daily consumption of sugar over the course of a week.  The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar intake to 4 tsp/day (20 grams) for children, 6.5 tsp/day (32 grams) for women, and 9 tsp/day (40 grams) for men.  My kids were eating what I thought was “relatively” healthy, but when we got to the end of the week we discovered they were averaging close to 70 grams of sugar per day…nearly double the recommended daily intake.   Common sense told me to limit the amount of sugary drinks, candy, and other “junk” food but I had no idea just how much sugar is packed into seemingly “healthy” food.    If you look at the ingredients of most pre-packaged food you’ll find sugar disguised as high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, maple syrup, honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate…just to name a few.  You’ll find sugar in ketchup, canned fruit, canned vegetables, peanut butter, low-fat products, flavored yogurt, vitamin water, juice, and a host of other items!  It’s no wonder our sugar consumption in the United States today is 733% higher than it was in the 1800′s (no, that is NOT a typo).

 

Over the past two years we have taken baby steps to eliminate processed foods and sugar from our household.  For those of you who have made “healthy eating” a resolution for 2012, I’m here to tell you that it’s worth all the effort and then some!  Thanks to all of you who continue to read this blog.  I love sharing my passion for healthy eating and I’m thrilled to know that parents are finding way to introduce wholesome foods to their picky eaters.  Here’s to a wonderful 2012 and I wish all of you the very best!

Today’s lunch includes:  nitrite free ham/cheese sandwich, celery with natural peanut butter, strawberries/blueberries, string cheese, peanut butter and chocolate chunk muffin packed in a Go Green Lunch Box