In a recent report from the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity, the authors listed several reasons for the alarming global increase in childhood obesity; these included:
- biological factors
- inadequate access to healthy foods
- a decline in physical activity in schools
- and the unregulated marketing of fattening foods and non-alcoholic beverages.
Our kids are living in an age where childhood obesity is not going to go away without governments enforcing some major policy changes, but as parents we can help by ensuring that our kids eat reasonably healthy and get enough exercise. In today’s post, I want to share how a nourishing diet can enhance a child’s health, mind, and body. This is the story of a friend’s son, and his recent accomplishments after a forced change in diet.
Haruna’s son Jet is just ten years old, and he recently ran and finished – before the cutoff time – a half marathon. A couple of weeks later he also completed a challenging 10k mud run. While it’s not uncommon to see young kids of Jet’s age participating in running events, it is unusual to see them completing the more difficult adult distances; that made me curious about Jet and his ability to do what many other 10-year olds cannot do.
A couple of years ago, personal circumstances resulted in Haruna taking better control of Jet’s diet, despite his resistance. Haruna says, “Jet always liked meat and less veggies…. and eating pretty much chocolate or anything sweet. He like a lot of sugar.. he’d eat just sugar if he could.”
In an effort to “clean up” Jet’s diet, Haruna stopped buying processed snacks. She used to always have an ample supply in the house but she decided to stop that and only buy snacks on occasion, as a treat. Now, when her son and daughter go shopping with her, she allows them to choose just one snack each, and she no longer takes any home to store in the pantry.
The next step Haruna took in changing Jet’s diet, was to limit his meat intake. In the past she served him meat almost daily, because that’s what he liked and so that’s what she cooked. His meals were typically meat-heavy with just a small side-salad; now he eats more vegetables than meat. That didn’t happen over night, but was instead a gradual process that involved reducing Jet’s meat servings, and introducing him to different kinds of salads and dressings in an effort to make vegetables more appetizing.
Haruna says it was around eight months or so after changing Jet’s diet that she began to observe some noticeable differences in his body. Jet’s exercise routine – since the age of four – had pretty much remained the same, yet Haruna noticed that Jet was leaner and more toned.
In addition to Jet’s physical changes, his stamina and endurance seemed to have improved. Although running is probably in his blood (Haruna runs, and her grandfather has many medals to show for the multiple marathons he has run), Haruna believes that Jet’s weight loss and new diet habits most likely made it easier for him to achieve his half marathon goal. She inferred that his weight loss not only produced a greater level of physical energy, but also an increase in mental energy, as shown by his strong resolve to complete an incredibly tough challenge.
Haruna isn’t sure what Jet’s next race goal will be, but her goal for him is to one day run a full marathon with her! Somehow I can see that happening…..
The take-away from sharing Haruna and Jet’s story:
- You can improve your child/ren’s diet – with small but consistent changes. Be patient, and you’ll see that those small changes will eventually produce healthy and strong bodies, and happy and positive minds.