When healthy eating pressure becomes dangerous
Are you worried about eating carbs? Do you steer clear of all sugars? What about dairy, is it a no-go zone?
With so much conflicting advice readily available (or being force-fed, so to speak), it's a wonder any of us are still eating anything at all! And this becomes really dangerous when we start reflecting these pressures onto our children, who are right in the middle of building some vital muscles.
Sports nutritionist Jeni Pearce spoke at a recent Milo Breakfast Event about how the new trend of 'clean eating' is going overboard and becoming an area of obsessive compulsive eating.
Her message was that we all need to "simmer down, and calm down".
“We’re all aware of the obesity data, but some of the things are actually not healthy,” she said. For example, a new eating disorder has actually developed in the past decade called orthorexia, which literally means “fixation on righteous eating”.
And it can become righteous, when parents try to force their latest eating fad onto not only their children, but even the other children at their daycare or school.
“We’ve got [people saying] ‘everything needs to be gluten free, everything needs to be sugar free, nothing can have salt in it’. In our environment, restricting food choices and availability when these children need high energy, is really serious,” said Jeni.
Vanessa Rehm, mummy blogger at The Bubbalino Kitchen, says that this pressure is not only limited to the sports arena, but is obvious in many aspects of parenting, and starts from the moment a woman becomes pregnant.
“I find it confusing when we’re told: grains aren’t good anymore, dairy’s really dangerous for your body, and it can make feeding yourself difficult let alone when you’ve got fussy children,” says Vanessa. “Even though we know the basics of what’s good and what’s not, it can sometimes get confusing and you can begin to doubt yourself.”
But she says that deep down, parents know what's right.
“I think it’s really important to trust your instincts on what you’re feeding your family, and what’s right for your family may not be right for my family.”
For instance, she loves baking, and won't stop making sweet treats for her family, but makes little changes like using less sugar than the recipe calls for, and substituting half the flour for wholemeal flour. She also gets them involved and talks to them about what different foods are responsible for - giving them energy, helping them run fast, or growing muscles.
In the end, as long as you're feeding them a balanced diet including all the food groups, and trying to cut back on refined sugar/processed foods, you can give yourself a pat on the back and know that you're doing a good job.
Do you feel the pressure to be perfect when it comes to feeding your family?