fed up

I’m on my way home from a special screening of Fed Up, the documentary that took the Sundance Film Festival by storm and reportedly encouraged a very healthy Q&A amongst its viewers, resulting in a real drive to create change in the food industry in America.

I’m an intern at I Quit Sugar, and today, thanks to the film’s producer Laurie David, we viewed the documentary. Big Sugar and the impact of fructose on our health is not new to me. Still, sitting there in the meeting room, SEEING the impact that sugar has on our kids, hearing the stats all in one place, understanding the impact that advertising has on our minds (and those of our young), seeing the way that Big Food fights hard and dirty to ensure that our governments and our researchers stay onside (the way Big Tobacco did 30 years ago)… it made my heart ache.

It ached for the kids in the documentary. It ached for their parents who know no better. And it ached for my children, who are growing up in a time of mass advertising, of mass brain-washing, mass peer pressure, who are part of a generation that for the first time in history is predicted to die at a younger age than it’s parents did.

Our household is not 100% sugar free, but we do pretty well. We make the bulk of our sauces from scratch (there are some condiments that sneak in here and there). We cook whole foods, we we don’t drink soft drink, we have weetbix, porridge or eggs for breakfast. When we do have treats, we make them ourselves; sometimes with fructose-free sweeteners like rice malt syrup or stevia and sometimes with table sugar… largely depending on the baker of the day. Still, we know what is in our foods and we (generally) make informed food choices. In an average day I consume around 6-8 teaspoons of sugar, most of which comes from an apple and mandarin, and I’m ok with that. We make sure our daughter has extremely limited sugar intake and that she (mostly) only gets it from fruit.

Despite our low-sugar lifestyle,  at just 2 and a half years of age she is already a lover of the sweet stuff. The only tv she watches is Play School 2-3 times per week via iView, so she isn’t subjected to tv commercials, and on the occasions that we do bake cake or biscuits, her access to them is strictly limited. Still, when she participates in her bedtime story, her heroine Milly finishes nearly every adventure with an ice cream. When I tell her she can have a special treat (and am referring to a new colouring book or a fresh batch of playdough) she immediately says ‘cookie?’. Birthdays are associated with cakes before balloons or gifts and the cafe is more about babychinos than the friends she meets there. If the pleasure centre in her brain already lights up at the thought – and occasional intake – of sugar, then how must it be for kids who get sugar all the time? For kids that eat a bowl of sugary cereal, a glass of apple juice and a couple of slices of white toast with jam all before they leave the house in the morning? And what about the kids that are featured in Fed Up – and the countless others who aren’t – for whom processed, packaged, sugar-laden “food” is the norm? What are we doing to our kids?

And I’m well aware of the negative impact that being draconian can have on children. I know that if I get all overbearing and make a bit deal about nutrition that I run the risk of pushing our two in the opposite direction. I know that the fact that my parents hid chocolate biscuits in their sock drawer, away from us kids, started a long history of me hiding food and scoffing it in private. I know that the very children who are denied sweet treats at home are the same ferals with their hands in all of the lolly bowls at birthday parties, pinging off their heads on a mega sugar high. I know that the more you tell someone no, the more they are likely to act yes.

I also know that we have to do SOMETHING to change the state of food in our shops. That we have to do our best to educate our kids and nurture a love of real, whole foods. And I know that the best way for me to shape my children is by walking the talk. So anyway, check out the Fed Up trailer. It’s not yet got a release date in Australia, but the gang at I Quit Sugar are working on it, so if you’d like to see the film send a tweet to @iquitsugar and make sure you include #IQSFedUp.

 

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Two Beautiful Bunnies

I'm a mama to two beautiful babies. I have started this blog to gather my thoughts and try to improve who I am as a person but particularly as a mother, wife, daughter and sister.

Gabrielle Bernstein, Inc.

Become the happiest person you know!

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