Today’s fast paced existence has led to stressful living and detrimental lifestyle choices. In light of this problem, the need to have the right foods and achieve overall wellness has become a major priority for many.
Unhealthy diets comprised of processed fast foods, sedentary lifestyles, and highly demanding professional lives have all contributed to the spike in lifestyle ailments like heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and even depression. If we do not put a stop to this haphazard way of living, we are at risk of putting our future generations through the same cycle of bad choices and poor health.
Never before has the importance of wholesome nutrition and fitness been so evident as today. Countries like Denmark have gone to the extent of introducing a ‘fat tax’ on all foods with at least 2.3% of saturated fat, and the UK is mulling the idea of introducing the same system in the country.
Though several countries are now taking health and fitness very seriously, we as individuals must take the initiative to put our health and that of our family back on track and give our children a future that isn’t riddled with health problems. After all, the world recently welcomed its 7billionth humans on October 31st in the Philippines and India, and in light of this landmark, we’d do well to reflect on how we can ensure that our future generations do not suffer from health issues simply because we didn’t do enough to educate them about the importance of good health.
Burgeoning populations, dwindling resources, and rapid urbanization have all given rise to an uneven demand/supply equation. There are various pockets on the planet that are heavily populated, but have poor resources when it comes to sustainable agriculture and adequate healthcare. On the other side of the coin, the problem of plenty is plaguing countries like the US.
The emergence of the fast food industry, which was set up to cater to people who are on the go and have no time to cook, ensured that burgers, pizzas, hot dogs, and fried chicken became part of the standard ‘American fare’.
Since these foods have become everyday staples, many parents have brought up their children on a diet that’s anything but wholesome due to lack of awareness and time. Entire generations in the US have grown up eating fried, saturated, and sugary foods, and as a result, child obesity and juvenile diseases have become a huge cause for concern.
As of 2011, nearly 1/3rd of American children between the ages of 9 months and 2 years were either overweight or obese.
If unhealthy foods are to blame in this side of the world, it’s child malnutrition that’s claiming the lives of many in Asia and Africa. Places like India and Sub-Saharan Africa in particular have been plagued by this issue, where almost half of all child deaths have been traced to undernourishment. Apart from the unavailability of beneficial foods, factors like access to health and medical services also play a vital role in determining how well-nourished children in most societies are.
What We Can Do
Ill health, lifestyle diseases, decreased lifespans, and inactivity can all be combated if we make numerous well-meaning choices- both for ourselves and our children. Never before has nutrition been such a determining factor in the progress of our future generations.
If you have kids, talk to them about the importance of being well-nourished. Unhealthy foods can stunt growth, lead to many illnesses, and even affect a child’s ability to perform well in school. Communicate this to your kids in a simple way without scaring them so as to make them more aware about the importance of good food.
Young children don’t have the capacity to understand why some foods are ‘good’ and some foods are ‘bad’, so it is your job to tell them why this is so instead of merely telling them to ‘eat their veggies’. Make your child habituated to healthy eating and abundant physical activity from the time he/she is a toddler so that he/she can grow up to love nature’s bounty instead of opting for fast food and a sedentary lifestyle.
On her part, First Lady Michelle Obama has kick started a movement to increase awareness about healthy eating and exercise with her ‘Let’s Move’ campaign, which focuses on educating parents about the importance of wholesome nutrition and promoting physical education and good food programs in schools. She has also done her bit to promote organic farming and urge people to avoid sugary and unhealthy foods and drinks.
If you are passionate about making the world a better place to live in, you need to start in your own backyard. If you long for a healthy, disease-free future for your family, take action today and resolve to buy only wholesome, natural foods from your grocery store.
Make fitness a priority for yourself and your loved ones- encourage your kids to go out and play instead of sitting at home and playing video games or watching TV for hours. Make exercise a fun activity instead of a dull chore for yourself and your spouse by changing your routine periodically and reminding yourselves that you are exercising to feel good, not just to maintain your weight!
If you are concerned about your children being averse to eating natural foods, be innovative with your cooking and explore some fun ways in which you can introduce vegetables, pulses, and grains on their plates by ‘camouflaging’ them with flavors they love.
Finally yet importantly, inculcate a love for nature and all its offerings in your children so that they can appreciate the value of every morsel on their plate, every gush of fresh air outside, and every ray of sunlight.