A lot has changed since I was a kid. But not everything.
Kids and their families today are still bombarded with advertising that a real breakfast is made out of highly processed grains, combined with sugar and unhealthy vegetable oils. What changed is that those Wheaties of yesteryear that were supposed to give us super powers to achieve anything are now competing with hundreds of branded grain products with the additional information that it’s all been “fortified” and even labeled as “natural.” These “natural” grains (corn, wheat, barley, rice and others) have been hybridized and/or genetically modified into something that simply did not exist when I savored my first bowl of shredded wheat drowned in milk and white table sugar.
Along with this plethora of faux food cereals we have now been industry-trained to call breakfast are the wonderful treats that go with it. Pop Tarts celebrate their 39th birthday this year. Well, the frosted ones are only 36.
But such celebrations are not my point here. I’m not that nostalgic as we’ve landed fully in the wide lap of the Great American Obesity Epidemic or its knock-offs in the countries that have adopted our faux food habits.
As reported in another post here, (See Bellies to Balls: Get the Wheat Out), childhood obesity is still on the rise with young boys and much of what we regard as attention deficit could clearly be a lack of real nutrition at the beginning of every school and weekend day. And over time what is called the Standard American Diet, (grain drenched), which has only recently been a bit modified by the USDA, can be linked to a wide spectrum of everything from Autism to Asthma to Alzheimers with heart disease and diabetes smack dab in the middle.
Tell me, how do we build bodies eight different ways or was it nine?--some may remember the Wonder Bread jingle—in boys to men or anyone with these Frankingrain products devoid of real nutrition?
Fortunately, in just the last very few years a movement was birthed and it’s gaining steam. It’s helping get the faux food out and the whole food back so that children today can experience at least as much nutritional value as their great grandparents did when they sat down for a meal, something many families have dispensed with altogether.
It’s very old and yet new information for most that our bodies don’t really know what do with a grain that has triple the chromosomes than the original form. And that we did not evolve with much grain at breakfast or dinner at all. As a matter of fact, most of our existence as a species did not involve what we call “breakfast”, let alone a bowl of cereal and a bagel (even a whole wheat one), which we now know spikes insulin as though it were pure cane sugar, creating a kind of shock to the system. In turn our efficient factory takes the excess converted carbs and puts it into body fat storage because our lifestyle can’t possibly burn that much jet engine fuel fast enough. This stored bad fat creates systemic inflammation, the source of many degenerative conditions along with extra bulges now appearing on bodies of all ages to the extent people are regarding it as normal. I find that scary.
The movement I am speaking of goes by several names: evolutionary, paleo, primal and other terms. It’s not a new diet fad. Fads are usually backed by industry, government and now even supplement entrepreneurs with mega profits at stake. It’s a lifestyle that as much as possible attempts to mimic what got us this far over the last many hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. That’s right, we are high quality protein and good fat lovers at the metabolic level for a very important reason. And though the Incans of a few hundred years ago hybridized 4,000 species of potato, they did not spend their time on couches in front of a video display. Both diet and activity level are at play in these poor health epidemics of today.
That said, 80% or more of what makes us look like we do is related to our food or lack of whole real food intake. Back to my observation about boys and attention deficit. What looks fatty on the outside, is fatty on the inside. Not only muscle fibers suffer in a sea of too much complex carbohydrates but neurons do too. The brain needs carbs but less than we jam into our systems on a daily basis in our craving cycles of up and down high and low blood sugar.
Addressing the social and emotional needs of boys needs to begin at the organic level and that means food, real food that really does build bodies, minds and attention spans many ways.
I’ve actually seen billboards in Albuquerque, New Mexico talking about the dangers of sugar to youth. That certainly defies an industry. Will we have what it takes to defy Post, Kellogg and General Mills and just say no?
I won’t tell you what to eat here but I will share one of the best books I bought off the shelf at my natural foods store. It’s written by a woman who suffered more than many from grain consumption, then found her way out. It’s a gorgeous pictorial book with some of the most mouth-watering food photographs I’ve ever seen. Allied with solid science, author Diane Sanfillipo, BS, NC has created an easy to read complete guide to paleo eating that takes you through how the body functions when it’s confined to SAD (Standard American Diet) and what can happen when delicious, appealing and easily prepared whole foods are reintroduced to what our bodies have really craved all along. I’ve given copies to family members with diabetes and GI distress as they’ve been on their own journeys toward greater health.
To my knowledge boys don’t read my blog. Boys learn from adults, often men. It’s up to adult men to learn how to take care of their bodies, eat well, exercise, drop the inflammatory belly fat, live longer and model vitality for youth because we know pictures are worth a thousand words. Why not be the picture of greater health for yourself and others?
Available at Amazon: Practical Paleo: A customized approach to health and a whole-foods lifestyle by Diane Sanfillippo
Randy Crutcher, EdD, began his professional career as a men’s health educator in a primary health care clinic in l980.