Are You Movement Deficient?

*Note from Sarah: I particullarly love this article!!! Also, Mark mentions the Squatty Potty in this article and I have to do a special shoutout to Squatty Potty as well – we have two of them, one in each of our bathrooms and, well, we couldn’t live without them. They are truly that legit. For more of Mark’s work, be sure to visit his website, follow him on Facebook, and listen to his kick butt podcast

Here’s some nutrition advice for all you folks out there raising kids: put them on a diet of only broccoli and chicken. You can cook it or not cook it, season it any way you want. But that’s it. Broccoli. Chicken. Forever.

Sound good?

It certainly would make shopping easy.

But that’s crazy, right? Or as the kids say “cray cray.” You would never do that. And why not? Because kids need more than that to grow and be healthy, right?

*Side note here: your kids might actually only say they ever want to eat 1 or 2 things, but you would never “prescribe” that diet for them. Or any diet that contained only two foods — sorry Cabbage Soup diet.

Think of all the nutrients they’d be missing out on! And not to say that broccoli and chicken aren’t healthy if cooked in healthy ways, but our bodies need more.

Our bodies need a bajillion macro and micronutrients from a variety of fuel sources in order to thrive. That’s a given. And “bajillion” is a scientific term — I saw it on the internet.

All the vitamins, fatty acids, essential amino acids, minerals, the list is ridiculous when you break it down, and those are just the ones we KNOW about.

So let’s take this and relate it to movement.

What if you or your kids only moved in a couple of very specific ways the majority of your time awake? Not that farfetched an idea, right?

I think it’s fair to say without doing any sort of double blind, peer reviewed study that many adults today sit most of the time, then engage in some type of very linear, repetitive motion for a small fraction of their waking hours (aka elliptical, treadmill, exercise bike, running, swimming, etc…).

Another huge fraction of the population only sits. As Katy Bowman puts it in her book, Move Your DNA, they are “ninjas” at sitting.

Many school-aged kids spend a large majority of their time sitting in a desk, and if they are involved in any extracurricular activity, that activity is incredibly specialized — like if a kid (like both of my daughters) is a gymnast. Gymnastics is a GREAT thing to do for overall muscle development and coordination much the same way that broccoli is a super food and should be eaten on a regular basis – but not in exclusivity. We need more variation. We are designed to move in ways that aren’t only “broccoli.”

If you think the list of nutrients our bodies need to reach their health potential is exhausting, the list of all the different types of movements and ranges of motion your body can perform can’t be listed…because it’s infinite.

It would almost be like trying to write out all the numbers. Impossible.

Just like a variety in foods give us different nutritional benefits, different movements give us different bio-mechanical benefits. So not getting a healthy dose of movements and ranges of motion is as unhealthy as only eating one or two foods for the rest of your life.

Getting stuck in one position affects your blood pressure, your respiration, your metabolism, your stress level, your brain, your joint health, your muscle retention and growth, and a myriad of other things that you may have never thought of.

Start thinking of sitting all day like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet and only having one food on display. That would be terrible. An endless buffet of…..carrots. Mmmmmm…..

So what can you do? You have a job with a desk! You have to commute to the job! You have your life and that’s that so what can you do!!???

Here are some easy things you and your children can do to ensure that your movement buffet is filled with many different things that will support a long and healthy existence:

  • change positions once an hour

sitting at work? Stand up. Been standing for an hour? Stand on a PVC pipe. Tired of that? Squat. Then stand back up and put one foot up on a stool or trashcan. Mix it up.

  • stand whenever you want at work or school

have a conversation with your kids’ teachers, most will understand where you’re coming from and will allow your kids to stand if they want to at various “appropriate times” throughout the day

  • squat when you poop

not hard even if you’re not very flexible if you have a Squatty Potty (most recently seen on Shark Tank). Most kids still have great mobility and this is no problem for them. I know my girls prefer to squat on the pot.

  • bypass the couch at home — get down on the floor

thanks to all the time I spent locked up in desks while in school, I can no longer sit comfortably on the floor cross-legged. Did that deter me? No. I got a little yoga block which raises my pelvis up off the ground enough for me to cross my legs. Not comfortable at first, but it is now. And hopefully pretty soon I’ll be all the way on the floor. We eat dinner on the kitchen floor, too — sorry dogs, outside. And it’s good incentive to keep the floor clean!

  • engage in some type of random movement activity

tennis, basketball, racquetball, soccer, playing tag, and jumping on a trampoline are examples of things that require you to move laterally and in ways that keep your body guessing and adapting

  • Don’t specialize your kids!

This is a touchy one and down at the bottom of the article for a reason. But let me just say this — having middle school and high school aged kids specializing in a sport and only doing that one sport is CRAZY!!! I’m sorry if you have a daughter on track to be the next gold medalist in softball, but you are only setting them up for a lifetime of movement “nutritional deficiency.” There I said it. Please comment or email me how much of a moron you think I am.

Our kids were not designed to do one activity for the majority of their waking hours. They just weren’t.

  • Do things not on “counter level”

Think about it. Everything you do in the house has you either sitting or standing up comfortably (like your counters in the kitchen). There are no waist level sinks or counter tops in nature. Think of ways to get away from counter tops. I’ll cook bacon on a griddle on the back porch…on the ground — sorry dogs, back inside — which forces me to squat down. I make broth on the ground outside. Be creative!

Don’t just eat broccoli and chicken all day, every day. Move around. Use your body in ways it was designed to move!

 

Sticks and Stones…

To follow all of Mark’s work, be sure to visit his blog, Simply Human, and of course, listen to his podcast

I’m a huge nerd and am just about done with the 5th book of the George R.R. Martin series, A Song of Ice and Fire — otherwise knows as “Game of Thrones” to all the insolent FOOLS who don’t realize that is just the name of the first BOOK and the HBO series, bahhha! (pretentious snort-laugh while I push my glasses back up my nose).

A phrase some of the characters use in the book is “words are wind”. The context is that words don’t mean anything — ACTIONS are the key.

Another phrase we’re all familiar with is “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is a particularly good phrase for the youngest child (like me) to use on older siblings when mom and dad are watching to ensure that the aforementioned youngest sibling doesn’t get his face smashed in.

But wind can cause some serious damage. And words can scar.

We have all said things to people we love that we instantly regret or wish we could “un-say.” And no one is affected more by words than our children. Anyone able to recall a memory of mom, dad, or guardian saying something to you when you were a kid that has just stuck with you? Yeah. No bueno.

So what’s my point?

Well, the “words are wind” thing combined with a TED talk I watched recently, that blew my socks a little farther off than most TED talks do, led me to make a vow to myself — and here goes:

I will never say anything to anyone that could not stand as the last thing I ever say.

A little context — in the TED talk, a story is told about a 15 year old Jewish girl and her 8 year old brother who have just climbed aboard a train to Auschwitz. She glanced down in the mayhem and noticed he wasn’t wearing shoes. So, as any 15-year old big sister will do, she snapped something at him about why he can’t keep up with his things and how could he be so stupid to forget his shoes!

Turns out it was the last thing she ever said to him. She survived…and never saw him again.

And when she walked out of that camp and “into life” as she puts it, she made that vow to herself.

Imagine if we could all make that vow and stick to it 95% of the time? Imagine the kind of world this would be. So that’s a big picture dream that’s kind of over-the-top and unrealistic.

But what ISN’T unrealistic is you being able to make that a rule in your own mind and in your own house with your own kiddos.

Making their lunches and getting them to bed on time and creating environments for them to play and move don’t mean a whole heck of a lot if your kids don’t feel loved.

Just a quick thought for the day. That realization affected me greatly and I wanted to share. I am 24 hours into the vow and it’s going good so far! I’ve caught myself several times already choosing different words….words that I wouldn’t regret if they were my last.

There is NO Magic Pill

To find all of Mark’s work, visit his blog Simply Human Lifestyle and listen to his Podcast

Trying to figure out how to be well and healthy has become a ridiculously complicated, challenging, and unnatural process in the unnatural world we’ve created around us.

From stuff you can sprinkle on your food, to infomercials selling weird contraptions that contort and twist you in strange ways, to Paleo, to vegan, to vegetarian, to pescatarian, to counting calories, to weighing food, to logging exercise — it can get overwhelming faster than you can pull a 1/2 pint of Blue Bell out of the freezer and take it down (which for me used to be about 2 minutes).

But here’s the thing, across the board humans are incredibly adaptive and can handle amazingly diverse foods, climates, and habitats and have been doing so for thousands and thousands of years.

There is no one perfect way to eat or move or live.

There is not a magic food list or precise time to eat that if you follow to the letter, you will look, feel and perform in ways that you’ve always wanted. We’re too diverse for that and anyone who claims to have all the answers or the only right way to do it should be avoided like the person sitting next to you on the plane complaining he’s got flu-like symptoms.

Ben Greenfield  wrote an article earlier this year about all the different variations in diet from robust and healthy cultures throughout world history. It’s a great read — here’s a sample:

  • The Swiss of the Loetschental Valley ate fresh, hand-milled rye bread and lots of raw and fermented dairy.
  • The Native Americans of the Rocky Mountains ate organs and bones of wild animals, gave the muscle protein to the dogs, and ate in-season vegetation including bark and tree buds.
  • The Gaelics in the Outer and Inner Hebrides ate oats at every meal, tons of local seafood (with an emphasis on cod liver oil), and fresh or frozen veggies.
  • The tribes in Eastern and Central Africa ate starches like sweet potatoes, beans, corn, and millet, fish and shellfish, wild game, and insects.
  • The Eskimos of Alaska ate very little vegetation and tons of sea animals (whole sea animals), fish and eggs, and other wild land animals.

It used to be easier to know what to eat because the world was small and travel was rare. You stayed around the same people (and therefore similar genes) and the same area most of your life. Today people can cross the globe in a matter of hours and cultures have blended, which is great for many reasons, but now a little more trial and error has to be done to figure out which of your ancestral genes is controlling the part of you which handles food assimilation, hormone regulation and weight management.

Do you have some Northern European milk drinker genes? Or maybe some Far Eastern starch consumers’? Is it the equatorial tropical fruit eaters? Is it the meat-only Arctic dwellers?

I know in my case, my relatives came from Germany and Austria which may be why I can handle raw and fermented dairy without a problem. And why I also avoid sugary fruits like oranges, bananas, mangoes and grapes for the most part, or I start to swell up like Violet in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Some people do well with ancient/original grains (if you can find them) and some don’t. Some do well with dairy and some don’t. Some do well with tons of fruits and veggies (or maybe even ONLY fruits and veggies) and some don’t.

Some people can eat ice cream and soda and pasta and still maintain a healthy weight (doesn’t mean they’re necessarily as healthy as they could be, but when most people eat those things a lot, bad things happen).

The human diet is as diverse as the number of reasons why a four year old will just suddenly start crying and throwing a fit out of the clear blue.

So again, there is no magic, absolute truth list of foods TO EAT because it varies so much.

However, there IS an absolute truth list of foods to NOT EAT.

Across the board, in every human body, we can say that the following foods will create negative affects in greater than trace amounts — the “Bad List” if you will:

  • processed sugar
  • foods not found in nature (more detail in a minute)

There. That was pretty easy. And pretty hard to argue with. Find me any evidence or research or group of people living on Earth today or at any time which included these two things as staples in the diet and thrived.

Find one example, and I’ll shut up. I promise.

Those two bullet points include

  • soda and diet soda
  • candy
  • fruit juice
  • grains that have been altered from their original chromosomal makeup (most of today’s wheat, rye, soy, corn, etc)
  • synthetic preservatives
  • food coloring
  • emulsifiers and fillers
  • cookies and cakes
  • grain fed or caged animals
  • margarine and trans fats
  • chicken nuggets
  • energy drinks
  • and many more

Quick side-note about liquids — I love Nassim Taleb’s rule about drinking things that are at least 1,000 years old which only includes water, wine and coffee.

Another way to think about it is removing things that did not exist in your ancestor’s habitats — whatever habitat that was and there is a wide range to choose from.

It’s much easier to think about what NOT to do. It’s easier to prove what is wrong than what is absolutely right — generally speaking. What makes people happy is a diverse and complex subject. What makes people unhappy is a little easier to agree on.

So the Simply Human Lifestyle, which tries to get folks to think about eating, moving, sleeping and enjoying to achieve optimal health, is not a cookie-cutter plan. It also doesn’t say you can never ever have anything from that list or you’re going to die. It does say, however, that the modern definition of “moderation” is as messed up as Beauty Pageants for 5 year olds.

It calls for variation, variety and tinkering with different foods and different times to eat to become the healthiest version of yourself. It requires a little bit of work and for you to take control of your own health….gasp!

The hard part is figuring out what works for you. But once you figure that out, it gets much less difficult.

The easy part is knowing what DOES NOT work which is the list of foods and food-like substances above.

Vegan works for you? Awesome. Eat a ton and wide variety of fresh and organic plants.

Paleo is how you function best? Go get ‘em caveman.

Gonna try the fruitarian thing? Buy tons of toilet paper but that’s great, too!

We’re all different. We find health by eating a variety of different things (and that variety is a little different for everyone). We all hurt our overall health by eating from the “Bad List.”

Hopefully this will clear some things up for anyone who is too confused to act — paralysis by analysis — and allow you to start removing things from your life that cause destruction and play around with the good stuff until you find the best combination.

 

Is Food Driving You Around?

A client of mine who recently went through the 21-day Simply Human Reset was led to make a pretty profound realization about food and how we think about it (I guess the Reset worked…ha).

The recognition was specifically this — that events and parties and social gatherings should not be driven by the FOOD which will be served. Those get-togethers became traditions and are things we should look forward to because of the PEOPLE we are surrounded by.

That has changed.

Birthdays. Relationship anniversaries. Work anniversaries. Holidays. Going-away parties. House warmings. A Dallas Cowboys victory. The list has gotten pretty long.

Today, many of us have become so used to getting cake and ice cream and “treats” at the myriad of special events throughout the year, that the “treat” is what we end up looking forward to and why we get excited about going.

Yet another way that our current industrialized food culture has completely altered our food reward systems negatively and used the all-powerful and wonderful Dopamine hormone against us.

Am I saying that I think we need to ban cake and cookies from all birthday parties and holidays for the rest of time?

Absolutely not.

Am I saying that if those things WERE taken out of the equation that I would be upset about that or that my experience at those parties would be lessened?

No way.

Ask yourself these questions: would you be outraged if you went to a party and there was no ice cream…just a karaoke machine and some bottled water? would your attitude change from one of festive partier to a disappointed shoulder slumper? Would you tell yourself, “well I’m never coming to one of HIS parties again” and put a flaming bag of poop on his front porch?

If you can honestly answer those questions, and the answer was ‘no’ across the board, then you are showing signs of having a healthy grasp on how food should be viewed by humans.

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of them, maybe it’s time you re-think how you think about food and where it is in your symbolic life car — is it packed up in bags in the backseat (reusable bags of course)? Or is it DRIVING YOUR CAR?

So many people today have wrapped up their self worth and their self control in yummy stuff they put in their mouths because of the food system that we are all living in.

If you are someone who wants to become a healthier version of yourself, and if we want our kids to live longer than we are going to — that must change.

We need to get back to enjoying parties for the reasons we as humans enjoyed them in the first place — because of the relationships we share with the people in our lives.

Enjoy the heck out of food. Have a treat once in a while. Go to the State Fair of Texas and eat some deep fried twinkies!

But make sure that food isn’t sitting in the driver’s seat while you are reclined in the passenger seat with your top button unbuttoned asleep and dreaming about the next ice cream bar you’re going to eat or the next “Paleo Cake” you’re going to make.

Dopamine is no joke. Many lives have been destroyed by the way it chemically alters your brain. But it can be controlled and enjoyed in ways which it was designed. You just have to want to control it and kick FOOD out of your driver’s seat.

*Follow all of Mark’s work over at his Blog and be sure to listen to his Podcast

Sleep vs Academia

*Follow all of Mark’s work over at his blog Simply Human and make sure you listen to his awesome Podcast

We are facing a huge conflict in our country. A battle is ensuing that is pulling our kids (and parents of school-aged kids) in two very distinct and disparate directions. This battle is putting our children in physical danger. It is harming our kids brain and physical development. It is making it more difficult for them to perform on tests.

What is this battle?

It is the fight between sleep and academia. And by “academia” here I’m talking about our public school system.

In the red corner we have sleep:

Weighing in at a whopping 9.5 hours a night.

It restores and builds muscle and connective tissue.

It solidifies memories and strengthens brain development.

It provides massive doses of energy and stimulates movement.

SLEEP!

In the blue corner we have academia.

Weighing in at a whopping 4.0 GPA.

It is vital to securing a successful future.

It is the foundation for critical and life-changing research.

It enhances the quality of life of everyone on earth.

ACADEMIA!

These two things really don’t seem like they should be at odds with each other. Seems like Academia would WANT Sleep in its corner to help it learn and test well and create new ideas.

But that’s not happening. Academia is beating the ever-loving snot out of Sleep. And it’s not even close.

A recent statement released by the American Academy of Pediatrics says that “insufficient sleep in adolescents [is] an important public health issue that significantly affects the health and safety, as well as the academic success, of our nation’s middle and high school students.”

And why are kids not getting enough sleep for the most part?

School start times.

They just keep getting earlier and earlier. Some New York schools are starting school 40 MINUTES earlier this year than they did last year.

Why? To squeeze in all the new curricula so that we can meet standardized test scores and “compete” in math and science and engineering around the world. All this in the midst of more and more schools cutting P.E. or recess, too!!!!

[Tangent: so let’s stuff kids in little cubicles all day, deprive them of their innate desire to move, deprive them of sleep, feed them processed sugar and corn, then wonder why in the world they can’t compete in the STEM fields?!]

So how are our kids supposed to learn and test well when they can’t even hold their eyes open? I have no clue.

Basically, kids need somewhere between 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep. Any parent can tell you what happens when kids get tired — or overtired. Irritability. Irrationality. Surliness. Testiness.

Yeah — they’re tough to be around. When my kids cross that threshold I usually end up faking a knee injury and driving myself to the ER.

Let’s do a best case scenario hypothetical — you live five minutes from school and have one child. School starts at 8 AM which means you need to leave the house around 7:45. Factor in time to get ready, eat a breakfast of healthy, “human” foods, grab your backpack, brush teeth, etc…and you need to wake up by around 7:15 at the absolute latest (teenage girls need much longer than that — GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM! GIVE SOMEONE ELSE A CHANCE!). Back that up 9.5 hours and bedtime should be 9:45 PM.

But wait. That 9.5 hours of sleep kids need to get isn’t 9.5 hours of “time in bed.” It’s 9.5 hours of sleep. So even if you’re in bed at 9:45 and the alarm goes off at 7:15 — you’re not getting a full 9.5 hours. You need to be in bed even earlier, like, say, 9:15 or even 9 PM.

Anyone with kids older than around 13 have a strict 9 PM bedtime?

My kids are all under the age of 6, so it’s a little easier to pull off an earlier bedtime (which is about 8:30 this time of year).

But that’s really hard for parents of middle and high-school kids to pull off. Especially with extra-curriculars, homework, Facebook, social events and any time the parents actually want to spend with their kids all added up and thrown in the mix.

It seems like pretty common knowledge that chronic sleep deprivation affects you in pretty significant ways. You don’t need research or hard data to know this. You just need to pull an all-nighter, or take care of a sick kid all night, or have insomnia, to know how messed up you get after just ONE NIGHT of bad sleep.

And our kids are having to suffer through an ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR of sleep deprivation. It may just be me — but I find that INSANE.

The AAP suggests delaying school start times across the country, and I am all for that. Even thirty more minutes of sleep would help.

Well, just get your kids in bed earlier.  Simple as that, right?

That’s a fine and dandy argument, but not one that is realistic in my opinion. Not with everything else our kids our dealing with, and also with how the schedule we’ve put them on with such little encouragement for movement throughout the day completely messes with their sleep-wake cycles causing them to not be sleepy when it’s time for bed. So that 9:45 PM bedtime ends up being 10:30 or 10:45 PM.

I used to watch the Tonight Show in my bed every night, turn the TV off, lay there for an hour wondering why I couldn’t sleep, wake up at 6 AM, and fall asleep in every single class all day.

In the studies of delayed start times that have been done, the bedtimes pretty much remained the same but the kids got more sleep — and guess what? Test scores increased and kids were reportedly less sleepy during the day, not late as often, and had longer attention spans.

I’ll bet the teachers would say the kids were less irritable and testy as well, wouldn’t you?

Until the school districts stop pitting Sleep and Academia against each other, there’s really not a whole lot we can do with school start times other than make your frustrations felt with the powers that be.

But there are things within your control as parents to help your kids get the best sleep they can, even if they have to wake up at 5:30 AM:

  • make sure they get to bed at the same time every night
  • eliminate as much while/blue light exposure as humanly possible after sunset — this means no computer or gaming time which may be a battle for some
  • ensure they sleep in a dark and cold room
  • avoid stimulants in the afternoon and evening like soda, chocolate, or caffeine

Do what you can as parents to give your kids their best chance at a good night’s sleep.

And if anyone out there has any pull and wants to start some sort of huge political action committee that will make this an issue and actually make school boards delay start times — let me know, because I’m all in.

It’s Time for School Lunches Again

lunch

I am often blown away by what I see kids eating for breakfast and lunch at school on a regular basis. I’m all for letting kids have some special treats once in a while, but if powdered donuts are the go-to menu item for your kids’ breakfast, something has to change if that child wants to have any chance at a healthy future.

Sorry. May ruffle some feathers here, but there’s no way around that one. Processed fake foods every single day as the foundation of a human beings diet WILL LEAD TO DEGENERATIVE DISEASE AND A DEPRESSED, DOCTOR-WAITING-ROOM FILLED EXISTENCE.

Is throwing a Lunchable in a backpack easier than making a lunch for your kid every day (or at night before you go to bed like we’ve gotten in the habit of doing)? Of course. But convenience and ease isn’t the best thing in all domains of life.

It’s great for staying in touch with relatives or being able to watch 30 college football games in one day. Not so good for optimal health — ESPECIALLY for kids! Destroying stuff is usually easier and faster than building stuff.

Here’s a very typical lunch that our girls take to school:

lunch

That’s cashews, organic apple sauce (no processed sugar), cantaloupe, and Applegate Uncured Pepperoni (is that the absolute best meat on the planet? No. But it’s better than your typical, WalMart deli meat). They also do the Applegate ham and if we have grass fed beef hotdogs or something else, we’ll throw that in.

We try to get some type of “dense” food like the pepperoni (or macaroni as the girls call it…ha!), or cheese, or boiled egg, or nuts, or nut butter, or a combination of 1 or 2 of those things. Meat isn’t included every day as long as there is some nutrient density.

Then we try to put a fruit and veggie. This pic has no veggie but we’ll do carrots a lot. They’ll do pickles, too. My three year old LOVES tomatoes.

Applesauce isn’t my favorite since I’d rather they eat an apple, but it’s a once a day thing. That’s our “convenience” hack. They know they don’t get the applesauce any other time than at school. When they come home it’s all fresh, whole foods.

Other go-to fruits are olives, cantaloup, strawberries, blue and blackberries, bananas, and watermelon.

Bottom line — there are a wide variety of healthy options your kids can eat at school. You just have to do a little prep work to ensure they’re not eating mass-produced chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes and whacky cake every day like I did. Mmmm…whacky cake.

Trust me — your kids are worth the effort. And they’ll thank you for it someday.

Stop Depriving Your Kids

Be sure to follow all of Mark’s work over at his awesome blog, The Simply Human Lifestyle, and listen to his Podcast

Hey parents — here’s a newsflash…this just in:

Giving your kids sodas, candy, cakes, and cookies on a regular basis is deprivation alright. It’s depriving them of A HEALTHY, STRONG, VIBRANT FUTURE.
Withholding those things is only depriving your kids of future doctor appointments, clinic waiting rooms, dealing with bags full of prescription meds, obesity, diabetes, and host of other major problems that will affect them forever.

I posted this video on the Simply Human facebook page back on August 14 because I thought it was extremely powerful. Take 90 seconds and watch it real quick if you haven’t already.

Through the eyes of a young heart attack patient, the video shows you how he ended up on the operating table at such an early age.

And the video isn’t some science fiction or political propaganda. The video is absolutely, 100% dead on (pun intended).

We live in a culture today which hands out soda after sporting events — suckers after gymnastics — random candy at school for no good reason. It’s everywhere. It’s the norm.

And parents can be made to feel guilty or weird if they say, “thanks but no thanks” to the sweet, little old lady handing out peppermints at the mall.

Donuts, cake, cookies, soda, juice, chocolate — they’re all the norm in our society.

So you know what else has become normal? Heart attacks. Obesity. Diabetes. And many other diseases of degeneration. Is that so unbelievable?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “oh you’re too strict! let them have some candy” or “it’s just one cookie, don’t be such a jerk, you’re depriving them!” Or things along those lines.

Let me stop here and say that my kids get cake at birthday parties or parties at school. I let them eat the little sucker the gymnastics place we go to hands out after they finish (they get it AFTER they eat dinner). I don’t run up like Batman and knock the candy away from them in slow motion if anyone hands them candy. I’m not THAT guy.

But I’m also not the guy that will allow that stuff to be around all the time. When that stuff is around all the time — so are other bad things in the future. If “treats” and candy are sporadic, so would be all the diseases I mentioned earlier.

Our culture has changed the definition of normal or moderate or “every once in a while.” We need to do some serious work to get those words back to their original meaning.

How can we do that?

“We” needs to become “me” to begin with. Our culture won’t change unless YOU change. Unless I change.

Keeping that stuff out of your house and out of the norm is not eliminating happiness from you or your child’s life. Where did that notion even come from?

We lasted a heck of a long time without all that garbage and were happy.

HAPPINESS DID NOT APPEAR WITH THE INVENTION OF SUGARY, PROCESSED FOODS.

Let me say that again, happiness has been around for as long as humans have. Garbage food has not. So don’t give me the “my kids aren’t going to be happy” line because I don’t buy it. It’s a lie.

Tying happiness to the ability to say “yummy” is incredibly dangerous for the future of our children — and for YOU.

Happiness should be tied to relationships and self-fulfillment and giving to others and contentedness. Not sugar. Seems a little ridiculous when you think of it like that.

In many families I’ve worked with, it’s not even the kids who are driving the demand of non-human food in the home, it’s the parents. Parents know that they can’t be eating pizza and demanding that their kids eat broccoli. So what’s the alternative? Well, everybody just gets pizza and ice cream and hamburgers every night because mom and dad want it. That’s not fair to your kids.

You also don’t need candy to reward kids and get them to do stuff like poop in the toilet or do what you say. It’s very effective, but so is the Warm and Fuzzy Jar. It’s a mason jar decorated by the child that gets filled with super cheap cotton balls anytime the child does something you ask without throwing a fit — or being polite — or putting their dishes in the sink — or whatever. Then when the jar is filled up, they get an experience: a movie, a trip to the park, a date with mom or dad. It doesn’t HAVE to be food.

That culture MUST change.

Start by eliminating non-human food from your home. Then talk to your kids about food and special treats. My girls know that when they get the sucker after gymnastics to just hang on to it until after dinner. They know that because we had a conversation with them about it and they’re smart, capable little human beings.

Teach them about smart decisions. And that human food will make them big and strong. Show them that mom and dad don’t eat those things because mom and dad want to be healthy and strong. Your kids think you’re Superman. Model healthy human behavior for them and they’ll follow suit (unless your kids are teenagers and they are in the “mom and dad are the stupidest people on earth” phase).

We don’t have a swimming pool. So our kids don’t whine and complain every night about not getting to swim in our backyard — because there’s no pool back there. See where I’m going with this?

So get it of your house. Model healthy behavior for your kids. Teach them about what it means to be healthy — and don’t deprive your children of a happy, vibrant, strong future.

Don’t let your child end up like the kid in the video. Find other ways to reward and treat and enjoy.

Don’t wait until next week or until you eat all the garbage you already have in your possession. Life’s too short. Start changing right now. And if enough individuals change…WE will change.