17 October 2005

Food for thought: Health Food Junkies

Just came across Diet-obsessed parents putting their kids' health at risk and a few other articles on the growth of orthorexia in Britain. The Scotsman and Daily Mail also have run stories on this.

Basically, according to Dr. Steve Bateman, children's health is being endangered by well-meaning parents who force their children to eat only the "purest" foods. Strict diets that limit the amounts of sugar, fat, salt and artificial additives may actually be depriving children of certain nutrients for growing bodies, possibly leading to upset tummies, headaches, skin problems and irritable bowel syndrome. In some cases, parental fear has caused some children to starve to death--it's like anorexia, but instead of starving to be thin, you're starving because you are afraid of available foods.

What I'm getting from the articles is people don't know how to eat, nor what they need to eat to survive. With nutrition reports contracting themselves left, right and centre (think of the vilification of
eggs), and a public being led by the nose by marketers and image consultants instead of by common sense. No wonder my generation and younger ones have a distorted view of food and health.

How many school boards have actually dropped home ec requirements? I remember getting not only info on how to prepare food, but also (in conjunction with the health classes) what the body needs to keep running effectively. When you add the current "updating" to
Canada's Food Guide, and the lobbying by every food association and food production company to have people eat more of this, less of that and increase portion sizes...it really isn't surprising.

We do need to be aware of what's being fed and injected to the cows, chickens and other meats we eat, as we need to know about genetic modification, pesticides and worker conditions. But we also need to know that food, as faddish as it is, is critical to our physical and emotional well being. It's all about making informed decisions, and knowing how to view information with a critical eye.

as always,


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