Fast food, soda and junk food

If you’ve seen “Supersize Me” you know that along with fast food, junk food and unhealthy cafeteria food in schools is a big problem in the United States. Hell, in middle school I remember calling Funyons and a candy bar “lunch.” And in high school I recall eating french fries and pepperoni pizza on MANY occasions. Oh yeah! That was some fine dining! 😉

I recently read an article in the current issue of Mothering magazine about soda companies and their marketing ploys in schools. It seems that the companies approach the school districts offering to pay for this, that or the other thing in exchange for the school signing a contract that allows them to put their soda vending machines in the schools. The fine print (which usually is not read by the district) forbids them from putting in other vending machines with healthy alternatives (like milk or water). And the contracts can be binding for many years, like up to 8-10.

Soda companies see the formative years as being the best time to develop product loyalty in kids/teens. I remember arguing with my own friends over which was better – Coke or Pepsi.

Then there’s McDonald’s (and many other fast food chains) that markets itself to kids by way of a clown for a mascot as well as play areas in many of the restaurants. Buy a “Happy Meal” and get a free toy!

Taken from “The Fast Food Trap: How Commercialism Creates Overweight Children”
By Gary Ruskin
Mothering Magazine Issue 121: November/December 2003

“McDonald’s first national ad campaign, in 1967, was an unexpectedly huge success: 10 million kids wrote in to pick floats for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. From then it was off to the races. McDonald’s advertising director put this battle cry on his wall: “Early to bed / Early to rise / Advertise / Advertise / Advertise.”18 Since then, McDonald’s has been masterful in its use of beloved characters to sell its high-calorie fast food. Among others, McDonald’s has employed Winnie-the-Pooh, 101 Dalmatians, Nemo, Furby, Tarzan, and Beanie Babies to sell its Happy Meals.”

“Fast-food marketers such as McDonald’s and Burger King have reshaped the diets of American parents and kids, and the rise in fast-food consumption has paralleled the boom in the incidence of childhood obesity. Between 1977 and 1995, the percentage of meals and snacks eaten at fast-food restaurants doubled. This has been especially devastating to the health of children. Because fast food is typically so high in sugar, fat, and calories, these meals can quickly add pounds to a kid’s waistline. In a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that, compared to adolescents who did not eat at fast-food restaurants, boys and girls who ate fast food three times in the previous week had astoundingly higher calorie intakes: 40 and 37 percent, respectively.”

The problem with all of this is that obesity in children in the U.S. is at epidemic levels. I think this is partially due to our recent sedentary lifestyles – i.e. watching TV, playing video or computer games – and also due to junk food and fast food.

“Of these occupational illnesses of childhood, obesity is probably the greatest. Certainly it is the most apparent, as a visit to just about any elementary school or mall will confirm. Depending on how you measure it, between 15 and 24 percent of American children are overweight-a threefold increase since the early 1970s.”

That’s a frightening statistic. I know we aren’t the best about getting off our butts and setting a good example. Both Jody and I enjoy our computer time and like to watch the occasional TV show. But I think things like that can be done in moderation (which is the real key and something we need to work on).

It’s frustrating to me that the soda and fast food companies see children as their target audience with no regard for their health or well-being. This is commercialism run amok at the children’s expense.

It’s encouraging to know, however, that thanks to concerned parents, some states and cities are passing legislation that prohibit soda or junk food from their schools (see below).

Recent Victories
Dates in parentheses indicate when the legislation was approved or signed into law.

-California: banned sale of junk food and soda in elementary schools and sale of soda in middle schools as of 1/1/04 (10/01).
-Texas: banned sale of soda, candy, and foods of minimal nutritional value from hallways, lunchrooms, common areas during mealtimes (4/02).
-Los Angeles: banned sale of soda in all L.A. public schools as of 1/1/04 (8/02).
-Nashville: banned Channel One from Nashville public schools (9/02).
-New York City: banned candy, soda, and other unhealthy snacks from vending machines, and improved school meals (6/03).
-Oakland, California: banned sale of soda, candy from Oakland public schools (12/01).
-Philadelphia: announced plan to ban sale of soda from all Philadelphia public-school vending machines not in faculty lounges (7/03).
-San Francisco: banned sale of soda, candy in cafeterias as of 2003-2004 school year (1/03).
-Seattle: banned Channel One from Seattle public schools as of 2004-2005 school year (11/01).

Obviously the best thing parents can do is adopt healthy lifestyles and eating habits at home and hope that their children will learn by example. But as far as getting the soda and junk food out of their schools, Ruskin advises, “The single best thing you can do is to tell your school-board members and state legislators to implement the Childhood Obesity Prevention Agenda, which has been endorsed by dozens of top obesity researchers and prominent public health groups.”

It’s nice to see that parents’ efforts can make a difference. I hope that more cities and states will continue to pass laws banning the crap from the schools.

As for me – I know Ava’s school-age days are still a ways off, but it can’t hurt for me to start checking around now to see what kind of policies are in place in our local school district. These things tend to take time, or so I’m gathering from the date the above legislations were passed and when they will go into effect, so the sooner the better.

Letter to Santa


Dear Santa,

I know it’s nearly Christmas Eve and I may be pushing my luck waiting this late in the game to write to you, but I have a special request.

All I want for Christmas this year is for me and my family to be well again. We’ve been hit with this awful bug that has knocked the wind out of our sails the past several days. Ava is doing a lot better and I’m so thankful for that, but now me and her daddy are having a really rough time. My nose and upper lip are chapped, cracked and bleeding from all the sneezing and nose blowing. It’s not a pretty sight, Santa.

If you can bring health back into our house this Christmas, I’d be ever so thankful.

I don’t need anything else this year. Presents are nice, but having my loving husband and beautiful daughter beside me is really the best gift of all.

Thank you, Santa.

Love,
Amy

P.S. The chocolate soy milk and pumpkin cookies will be on the table. 😉

Why I’ve been so busy (and not blogging) lately

The project I’ve been working on for the past couple months has finally had it’s unveiling! Some of you may have noticed a new link in my favorites list on the right. I’ve been working with a team of four other women on Cherished Children API, a new local chapter of Attachment Parenting International. The five of us have been hard at work arranging speakers for our meetings, doing advertising, creating a website, coming up with invitations and documents, etc., all for this new group which we are very excited about!

The premise behind Attachment Parenting (AP), for those of you not familiar, is:

Attachment Parenting is a philosophy based in the practice of nurturing parenting practices that create strong emotional bonds, also known as secure attachment, between the infant and parent(s). This style of parenting encourages responsiveness to the infant or child’s emotional needs, and develops trust that their emotional needs will be met. As a result, this strong attachment helps the child develop secure, empathic, peaceful, and enduring relationships.

AP consists of 8 ideals for infants and 8 ideals for school-age children.
The 8 ideals for infants are:
1. Preparation for Childbirth
2. Emotional Responsiveness
3. Breastfeed your Baby
4. Baby Wearing
5. Shared sleep and Safe Sleeping Guidelines
6. Avoid frequent and prolonged separations from your baby
7. Positive Discipline
8. Maintain balance in your family life

The 8 ideal for school-age children are:
1. Become knowledgeable about your child’s development and cognitive levels.
2. Stay emotionally responsive.
3. Strive for optimum physical health.
4. Maintain a high-touch relationship.
5. Develop and maintain positive sleep routines.
6. Be present and available for your children.
7. Use positive discipline.
8. Maintain balance in your life.

To be a member of our group, one does not have to practice all of the 8 ideals, but the most important thing in AP is just “listening” and responding to your baby/child’s cues. You can read more about it on either the Cherished Children or API websites.

My official title in the group is Newsletter Editor and I am nearly finished with our first newsletter installment. I’ve had so much fun working on it and I learned how to use MS Publisher in the process. I’m really happy with how it turned out as well. I’ve also taken some pictures for use on our group website.

I’m excited that our group is really well-organized and professional and it is my hope that that will help us become a big success. We have speakers lined up for our first three monthly meetings, which begin in September, and we’ll also have monthly play dates, as well as an online support group. There’s so much potential for this group to grow and add more things to serve the AP community.

So anyway, that’s a big part of why I haven’t been around much (bloggin’) lately. I think once I have the first newsletter done and I finish contacting potential advertisers, things will slow down a bit. But until then, it’s busy busy busy.

I’m so happy to have found a great group of women who all have the same vision of spreading the word about Attachment Parenting and to be able to offer a means of support to those who choose to do it. 🙂

———————–
“Be the change that you want to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

An apology (re: epidural post)

I’ve been thinking long and hard about my post re: the epidural shirts Target was selling and I want to make an apology. I also have other information I’d like to share and follow up on regarding epidurals and my original post, but I will do that at another time, in another post.

First of all, oy! What was I thinking making a post about epidurals (specifically sharing my excitement that a letter I wrote to Target made a difference) the very first post on my blog?! Could I have chosen a more heated topic??! I have to admit at the time I was just so elated that a bunch of women writing letters could bring about a positive change that I didn’t even consider that some people might read what I had to say and take offense at it. (Again, for the record, my issue was with Target for selling a shirt that advertised drug use, not with women who get epidurals.) I wish I would’ve posted something more tame – like an introduction telling about me and my reasons for starting this blog – before I delved into such controversy, but I can’t go back and change that now. Live and learn.

Back to my reason for this post. I realize that I made a generalization about women who receive epidurals and I don’t believe that was fair of me at all. I can’t speak for the reasons why women get epidurals. I should have made some clarifier, like “based on the people I’ve spoken with through my job and on various message boards, etc., I’m lead to believe that the majority of women don’t think twice about having an epidural.” But do I honestly know how thoroughly they’ve researched their options or taken into consideration the risks involved in receiving an epidural? No. (However, now I’m thinking about doing some polls to get a feel for their motivations, etc.) Anyway, my point is that it’s unfair for me to speak for anyone other than myself, so I apologize for making generalizations and I apologize to anyone who I offended by making those generalizations. I’m truly sorry.

Thanks for reading.

Celebrating my girl

Today is my sweetie’s 18 months birthday, so in celebration I thought I’d post some pictures of her taken over the past two months. (I’d do something more creative, but I still feel like crap and don’t have the energy.)

The first set is from November, at a park in town. The second set is from a few days ago. She’s playing in a box that her Christmas presents from Me-maw and Pa-pa came in. Who needs presents when you have a big ol’ box full of packing peanuts? 😉

Happy year and a half, baby! 🙂

Happy (sort of) anniversary to us

Yesterday was the 7 year anniversary of the day Jody and I met in person. It’s amazing to think that it’s been so long since I got on a plane in MI and flew to OK to meet a guy I’d only known virtually for a year and a half.

The whole trip nearly was canceled about a week beforehand, but I decided (thanks largely to some prodding by my sister Carrie) that if I didn’t go for it and do it then, there was a very good chance that I never would. And then I’d be left forever wondering what might have been.

Am I glad I did it? Yes.

Has the journey to get to where we are today been an easy one? No.

Was it worth it? Yes.

Would I do it again? Definitely.

I could search the earth and never find another Jody. I love him for his wonderful – often wacky – sense of humor, his quick wit (which I’ve grown to match), his idealism, his convictions (and by that, I don’t mean crimes), his capacity to love, and for the amazing father he is.

I’m so happy that our paths crossed on the Internet so many years ago. I can’t imagine living my life with anyone else.

‘Twas the week before Christmas

And all through the house…

Wait, do you really expect me to come up with a poem here? Sorry to disappoint, but alas, I am not. :oP

I seem to have caught whatever the little miss has. My throat hurts, I’ve been sneezing, my voice sounds deeper (and sexier?) and my head is stuffy. At least I have the ability to blow my nose and clear the mucus out, unlike my poor lil dd, so I don’t think I’ll get it as bad as she has.

She is doing a bit better today. The mornings are the worst for her though. She coughs and coughs until she throws up. 🙁

She’s starting to express a bit of an interest in food again. She ate about 12 grapes, 1 Ting, a couple bites of O cereal and a bite of a noodle so far today. That’s a big improvement over yesterday when all she had were a few grapes. It’s times like these that I’m so thankful she’s still nursing, especially when she wouldn’t drink hardly anything yesterday. I tried different cups, different things to drink – she just wasn’t interested. I finally got her to drink some chocolate rice milk (thought that might be a special enough treat for her to get some other liquids in her). I’m watching her diapers closely. She definitely isn’t having the output that she normally has, but she’s still wetting diapers so I’m not worried about dehydration.

At the moment she’s down for a nap now and I’m thinking about joining her, but thought I’d post a little catch up blog entry first.

Jody and I have agreed (for the sake of conserving money) not to buy anything for each other for Christmas this year. It’s hard because I’d really like to buy him something, but having a sick kid in the house makes it easier to keep out of the stores. Of course, there’s always online ordering, but I figure anything I got at this point wouldn’t make it here in time for Christmas anyway. Bah-humbug.

Our ebay auction on the timeshare ended yesterday. It sold for a whopping $765, less than 10% of what we originally paid for it. Isn’t that sad??! But at least we will be completely rid of the thing soon. No more maintenance fees! Woohoo!! 🙂 Now I’m just crossing my fingers that we get the money and the deed transfer goes through ok.

Since I’m on the advisory committee and had volunteered to take free family portraits for some families, I went to the Cherished Children holiday party on Sunday by myself. I was bummed to leave Ava and Jody at home, but she was way too sick to go out and I didn’t want to expose all the other kiddies to her crud.

The party had a nice turnout – 10 families in all. I took pictures for four of them. The lighting posed some problems for me, but I’m happy enough with how they turned out. I’ll be giving each family a free 5×7. I got to use my Silverlake backdrop for the first time (other than for my family) and try out my new reflector. 🙂 Pretty spiffy.

OK, think I’m going to either go wrap Ava’s presents or go lie down – or both. Cheers.

Support the bill to trim the fat from public schools

This is a follow-up of sorts to my post titled “Fast food, soda and junk food.”
Mothering magazine recently released a call to action to support a bill proposed by Ted Kennedy “aimed at stopping the sale of junk food and soda pop in public schools nationwide. The bill is called the “Prevention of Childhood Obesity Act” (S. 799), and it has several excellent provisions.”
To read more about the bill and find out how you can give your support, click here.
The way they’ve set it up has made it amazingly easy to send emails to your senators urging them to support this bill. It took me less than a minute to complete the form and send off my emails.
If you’d like to see junk food ousted from our children’s schools, please take a minute and email your senators and then pass this information on to others.
Thanks. 🙂

Toes to the Nose!

I have to admit that I’m quite preoccupied with baby poop lately. I assure you it’s not some weird new fetish of mine, but is it too much to ask to want to see a diaper full of it at least every other day?

Since Ava is no longer breastfeeding exclusively, gone are the days of regularly occurring, non-offensive, runny, mustard poops. Even though that meant changing 3 to 4 poopy diapers a day, I have to say oh, how I miss it!

Now I hastily check each diaper hoping to get a smelly surprise. Who knew that becoming a member of the “mommy club” meant so closely monitoring the contents of your baby’s diapers?!

When she goes through a whole day or two (or going on three today!) without any grunts and nary a bowel movement save the ocassional toots, I start to get concerned.

When my husband goes upstairs to change her diaper, I yell up, “Any poop yet?” To which he usually replies, “No poop,” secretly relieved to have dodged that bullet. (It’s both amusing and disturbing how often and in what detail we can talk about baby poop around here.)

In the meantime, I prepare to perform my pooping exercises on her that go something like this. I lay her flat on the floor and pump her legs from a straight out position to putting her “toes to the nose!” as I like to exclaim, making the exercise into a game. I also massage her lower abdomen in a circular motion with my thumbs, thinking that maybe it will get her intestines moving.

Actually I can’t take credit for the logistics of the “toes to the nose” exercise. After Ava was born and had gone several days in the hospital without pooping, a nurse who prided herself on her ability to get any baby to poop (all the other nurses raved about her) came in and performed the ritual, while using a rectal thermometer to stimulate her uh, rectally. She was successful (Ava pooped a lot!) and was able to maintain her flawless pooping record.

I can’t say I’m ready to inflict the probe upon her yet. I just wish she would poop already so I could get out my Sharpie and mark a big “P” on the calendar and start counting the hours until her next big movement.

World On Fire

I’ve been a fan of Sarah McLachlan for a long time, at least since “Fumbling Towards Ecstacy” came out in 1993. I saw her in concert three times, twice at Lilith Fair. Her music has always seemed so powerful to me, so full of passion. She really seems to sing from the heart.

After recently discovering what she did with her “World On Fire” video, I have even more respect and admiration for her.

View the video here

Even if you aren’t a Sarah fan, this video deserves a look just for the message that it has.

I admire her for doing something different and donating nearly $150,000 (the typical cost of making a video) to charities around the world. Imagine if every artist did that with just one video, what a difference it could make.

Anyway, Sarah is an inspiration to me. She seems like such a grounded person who isn’t wrapped up in all the money and fame that can accompany stardom. She uses her status to help bring about change and make the world a better place and I think that’s awesome.