Women are experts. We shop for our families, we devotedly list every food we eat on MyFitnessPal when we have hit that ‘rock bottom’ of weight gain. And so we are, without doubt, consumer nutritional experts. What woman doesn’t know that cake and bread are ‘bad’ carbs and that brown rice and wholegrains are both righteous and rewarding.
I remember my Mum starting Weight Watchers in the late 70s and overnight delicious butter and Sunblest squidgy white loaf disappeared from our kitchen (I can smell that bread packet even now!). No more running in from school and eating a ton of yummy jam sandwiches before she came home from work. No, a tasteless emulsified, chemically produced ‘spread’ of yellow nature and bread with bits in replaced this treat. Boo. We also had our Frosties and sugar breakfasts kidnapped and replaced with a brown thin cardboard imposter – bran had come to town thanks to Rosemary Conley and that darned ‘Hip & Thigh’ high fibre diet.
What followed was a revolution in food production. Sugar replaced Fat in the manufacturing of ‘food’. Mothers made choices because of the Holy Grail proclamation of “Low Fat”. It needed to appeal to our palates, humans have evolved to enjoy the taste of Fat because, well because it keeps us alive and taste nice! So what could it be replaced with that late 20th Century palates had come to love – evil SUGAR.
We are learning over time that whole foods, as nature intended, are indeed better for us but I’m not convinced this message has got out enough. What foods are we giving our children? Convenience and packaged?
Mindful of class allergies and peer pressure, I remember packing up my children homemade hummus and crudités, heart shaped wholemeal cheese and marmite sandwiches, grapes, cherry tomatoes and baked crisps. Until my youngest pleaded with me one day to stop the embarrassment of breath that smelt of garlic “please Momma no more, my friends say I stink!”. So within days I too gave in to the peers so as my beloveds did not stand out from the crowd, and a box of health got replaced with (sing this to the tune of the Fast Food Song – incidentally, an all time low in song writing) “ham sandwich, ham sandwich, cheesy, squeezy and a chocolate bar”.
Even now, given that there are an incredible 61 different forms of sugar (yes- 61!), we are hood-winked into thinking we are making healthy choices for our families : “Low Fat & Low Sugar” … well, what the heck does it actually have in it???
Regardless on how long it takes, let’s try and use whole foods: if it didn’t grow, didn’t breath or swim, then it isn’t a whole food. Take a few minutes to cut a piece of cheese and wrap it in paper for our children’s lunch. Pop their natural unsweetened yogurt with some blueberries in a recyclable pot. Prepare a few veggies and make a dip (maybe without garlic in it!). And remain steadfast and smug that not only do WE eat healthy, but we have made that choice for our families also.