Uncomfortable Truths

There are things people just need to be told, and that get danced around too often. Some of these are uncomfortable, some “gross,” some thing you just don’t talk about in polite society. Unfortunately, these silent issues are hurting our national health, our individual health, and most especially our kid’s health.

This is going to be unpopular. I’m going to do the disclaimers now:

See your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program. Nothing below should be taken as medical advice, and is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Medical conditions may require different approaches, and the ideas presented below may not apply or may be detrimental to some medical conditions.

Now, onto our show:

1. You should have at least one bowel movement a day. If you don’t, you’re not eating enough fiber,and you’re increasing your risk of colon and other cancers. A friend recently told me that doctor’s don’t even take it seriously unless it’s been at least 3 days since your last bowel movement. This is just wrong. If you’re eating enough fiber, more than one day should be alarmging. As an addition, if it takes you more than a few minutes to complete this task, you’re still not getting enough fiber. We all like the escape of some alone time with a good read on the porcelain throne, but if you’re doing it because you have to, then you need a big diet change.

2. Soda increases your risk of diabetes, regardless of your weight. Thin people can be diabetic.  HFCS, which is in most US soda, increases your risk of diabetes. Anyone drinking several cans a day is highly likely to become a diabetic, even if they aren’t obese.

3. Fruit juice isn’t much better than soda. It’s full of sugar, without the balancing fiber in whole fruit. It isn’t good for growing teeth. Drink water if you’re thirsty.

4. You did not “bulk up muscle” from moving light weights around every other week for 15 minutes. You might have eaten more because you went to the gym and so “deserved it,” or whatever, but you didn’t stop fitting into your pants or shirt over the course of one or two months doing this.  This means that if the scale shows you’re up 3 lbs one week, you didn’t build your biceps, trust me. Muscle gain is a slow and steady process, and no one builds it doing 5 reps with a light weight (or, actually, a heavy weight) on such an irregular basis. You may have gained water weight (women can gain up to 5lbs a month in water during their cycle, for example), you may have gained fat, but you didn’t suddenly become a hardbody overnight, at least not without serious chemistry.

5. If your urine is orange or deep yellow and you’ve not recently taken a vitamin tablet, something is wrong. You’re either consuming way too much dyed food, or you’re really dehydrated. Either way, it needs to be addressed. Your body can’t work well in either situation for very long.

6. Fat children are a problem. In many cases, it is indeed the parent’s fault. There’s no reason for a middle class child to be fat (again, excluding medical conditions, which are honestly very rare). Poor families are a whole different ball game, since there are food deserts and often a general lack of affordable staples; but, two thirds of our nation’s children are fat.  Two thirds of  families are not poor. The choice to feed your child bad food when healthy food is available and can be afforded is the choice to increase their long-term risks for cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other things.  It is the choice to let your child control the situation despite the health risks, something most parents would never do in other cases (would they let their kids play with a gun? Cross the street without looking? Get into a car with strangers? Play with matches in the house?).

7. If you’re skin is dry all the time, you’re probably not getting enough good fats in your diet. I am not going to argue whether saturated fats are good or not here–this isn’t about which diet is better. But, we all know that at least some fats are good fats, so start tossing some olive, almond, or coconut oil into your diet.

8. Your kids very likely aren’t ADD. Current figures suggest that somewhere between40-70% of children diagnosed as ADD/ADHD actually have other problems, usually related to diet and lifestyle, that are misdiagnosed. Why are they misdiagnosed? Well, pills are easier, for one thing. And, a doctor telling a parent they need to make changes in their parenting is grounds for a lawsuit, regardless of how true it is. So, I’m saying it: Cut the sugar, cut the preservatives, turn off the TV and video games, make the exercise, and enforce 8 hours of sleep at night before your put them on drugs. Yes, there are legitimate cases of ADD/ADHD, but far fewer than are diagnosed. Sleep deprivation, often caused by a diet high in simple carbs and sugars, mimics these almost identically, for example. Most children do not get nearly enough quality sleep, and definitely not enough exercise.

9. Our kids haven’t gotten worse, our system has. Stuffing kids full of sugar, then cutting recess and gym has consequences. For some reason, many people haven’t seen the connection to these things and the rising number of behavioral problems in our schools and at home. This isn’t rocket science: sugar is instant energy. That is simply science. Chock a kid full of it them stuff them in a chair for 8 hours?  Then, of course, blame the child for being a “bad” kid, or put them on drugs because they’re too hyper? Yeah, that’s brilliant.

10. While some dental issues are genetic, many are caused by lifestyle. Our toothpastes are full of sugars and glycerins, one of which rots your teeth and the other which stops recalcification.  Stop using your crest, and switch to either a natural toothpaste like Tom’s, or to a powdered tooth cleanser. Pretty much everyone I know who’s done this no longer gets cavities, including Thadd.

11. 10 toe touches and 5 jumping jacks does not constitute exercise unless you’re injured, sick, or elderly.  Whether it’s pilates or kickboxing, you need to do something that is in some way vigorous, and you need to do it for at least 20 minutes a day, preferably more.

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One response to “Uncomfortable Truths

  • Shirley

    Fantabulous! I agree with everything you’ve said. Regarding the diet/behaviour connection in kids, Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners in the UK did a very simple experiment with one child whose behaviour and diet were terrible. He was totally unmanageable both at school and at home. The parents agreed to not feed him high-fat, high sugar, processed foods for just one week (the usual dinner was fish sticks & french fries nearly every day and no veggies or fruit) and his behaviour change was remarkable. Remember the old saying from computer programming: garbage in, garbage out. Except that it’s far more serious when it directly affects our and our children’s current and long-term health. It’s unfortunate that our doctors have so little medical training in nutrition and so are unable to properly counsel their patients on proper eating and cooking. And who (except you!) talks about healthy bowel habits. A colleague & friend of mine passed away 3 months ago after a 3-year battle with Stage IV colon cancer. She was 54 and was rarely ill until she finally went to the doctor about her symptoms. No family history of the disease, but she ate out in restaurants very often. When was the last time you got a balanced (i.e. high fiber) meal in a restaurant? (unless you’re vegan) Eat your greens! They’re full of fiber (spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, beet greens, etc.) Just a 1/2 cup a day will keep the doctor away… Keep posting this vital information.

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