Wednesday, May 09, 2007


There was a report yesterday that linked food additives to childhood attention disorders, hyperactivity and aggression.

No shit.

Any parent with an ounce of sense knows that certain foods, even in small quantities will send their kids off on one. Happened to us at the weekend. Pirate Pete went to a party, came home with a bag of sweets, and we reluctantly let him share them with his siblings. Mistake, big big mistake. The rest of the afternoon they were close to uncontrollable, rushing about, shouting, not paying attention, playing aggressive games, there was a lot of tears.

You might say, well that’s what kids do. To a certain extent, that’s true. Yet I know my kids, the vast majority of the time they play brilliantly together, usually (ok, some of the time) do what they’re asked, and are happy. They literally have one sweet each, a sweet with lots of pretty colours and no flavours that grew out of the ground, and they’re transformed.

Why don’t people get this? You can prove it to yourself easily enough, just feed them good stuff for a few days, no prepared foods, no sweets, and see the difference. Its to your own benefit. Kids do not have a human right to sweets and artificial foods. It is not really good for them, it does not even make them happy. Why is this hard to understand?

Yet go out on the street, actually look around, and count the number of overweight kids to lean ones. I’ve done this a bit recently and my unscientific method has pretty consistently shown just less than half the kids I see being overweight. The thing is, its pretty easy to keep kids lean. They quite naturally, of their own accord, run around. Given half a chance, they run around a lot of the time. This isn’t hard.

You don’t even really have to restrict the quantities they eat, you just have to restrict WHAT they eat. I’ll let a little parental pride slip today. Ours are good eaters, the kitchen needs restocked twice a week. They have pretty unrestricted access to fruit, and happily munch their days through it. Breakfast is as much whole wheat cereals with dried, fresh or stewed fruits (we usually have a bowl of stewed apple or rhubarb or some such in the fridge, it gets frozen in season and brought out through the year). I make my own bread for toast, and they can have that with marmite, marmalade made down in the shop or honey. They aren’t forced to clear their plates at meals, but they have to try everything to get pudding. However, they’re allowed to not like some things (Pirate Pete doesn’t like peppers or mushrooms, Ali Baba doesn’t like pate and isn’t fond or courgette).

Believe me, they eat a lot. Take Monday night. I got some nice Hereford Rib Eye steaks from the butcher (locally sourced, the farmer’s just down the road), corn on the cob, Swiss Chard from the garden and a big pot of mushrooms stewed with a touch of wine. Pirate Pete ate a whole steak (adult sized), a whole cob of corn, a pile of Chard, and even braved one mushroom to confirm he still didn’t like them. For pud he had three helpings of Rhubarb Crumble with Ice Cream. It would have stuffed an adult, but he just burped contentedly and asked for a glass of milk.

Thing is, he’s as thin as a whippet, and really is a marvellous boy. The ears turn off occasionally, and he needs nagged to practice his sax, but I wouldn’t change him. He’s active, he’s happy, he eats loads, and he’s healthy. It isn’t hard. What we do do, is deprive the poor boy of sweets, and they only get an hour a day absolute maximum on the TV or computer (often less). We know, and check occasionally, that more of any of those things effect his mood and stop him running about as much. Its only a little discipline.


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