Sunday, 6 January 2008

Children and obesity...

This Post was written by (French) LaurieLorette from Yummy Homely Food

Bonne Annee 2008 to everyone on UKFBA!

On the news yesterday: The problem of obese children is rising France. Now I know it's a real issue here (you only had to watch Jamie's dinners...) but (perhaps because I don't keep in touch a lot with what's up in my country these days- 10 years here) I wasn't aware of the importance of the problem in France. That particular bit of news was all about how they tackle the problem of rising obesity in children in France: Small producers come to primary schools showing what their products look and taste like (they were having proper food tastings!). They also do that at pre schoool level getting kids to try anything from asparagus to blue cheese. Importantly, there is no mention of dieting/fat/...the approach is all about enjoying new tastes and everything in moderation. they showed kids at school at lunch time: they have a 3 course meal everyday (and this was an ordinary school, not some posh mega bucks private place). ...but the speaker said the portions were small.
I loved watching that (not the bit about children getting overweight but what people do to curb the trend) and it has got me back to thinking how I can help by doing my bit here.

I have 2 kids, a 3 year old boy and a 1 year old girl. I am not faced YET with the problem of them being fussy eaters, I know it might be coming soon.So,at the moment I try to focus on getting them to try everything and also see where food comes from. I hope that 4 or 5 years of good habits will eventually resurface once they have gone through the fussy teenage years? fingers crossed.
It does help that I only work part time and live in the countryside I agree. But even without saying that everyone who has the space should have a little vegetable patch and spend their days going to watch pigs in muddy fields, why has the matter of food become what it is? People work harder yes, have less time yes but still. I dont' think cooking fresh meal has to be a slaving chore if you get a bit organised and think about it in advance. During the week we mainly eat stews in winter (I just bang everything in a big ovenproof casserole in the evening for a few hours and reheat it the next day), soups (again, 5 minutes job, and it uses all the leftover vegetables) and pasta dishes. It doesn't cost a lot neither(you can use how much meat/fish you have, no on will be able to check but it will still taste meaty).
My husband says I don't understand because I am French and cooking is in my nature, so I have the willpower to give food an important part in our everyday life .

Really wanted to share this thought with other people. To see what you think and more importantly, what "non celebrity led" initiatives have been started by people like you and me to tackly this issue. If you know of any, especially in the South East of England, please let me know. I feel very strongly about it. I want to get involved , do SOMETHING. What? How? or why not- do you think i am looking at this the wrong way round? Do you think it's a matter of where you are born and that's it? comments eagerly awaited :)


Alex said...

Your children (fingers crossed!) may not ever be picky eaters. When I was growing up the rule at home was that I had to try everything once and if I didn't like it I could eat around it. Some foods took a while to grow on me (while I now love things like osso buco and ox tail I am yet to appreciate the horrible sticky lamb shank thing both my parents seem to adore) but I wasn't ever picky per se. And I grew up in a city with two working parents!

It sounds like you'll be teaching your children a healthy respect for food and its origins (both the field and the kitchen). I really like the idea that in France producers are going into schools and doing tastings with the kids. There's so much fantastic regional food in the UK that that should definitely be happening here! Things like field trips to farms or farm shops would be great too. Perhaps this type of initiative needs to be suggested by parents to the producers and the parents could act as liaison between school and farm.

Ultimately I think that if your parents are interested in food you'll be brought up with a love and enthusiasm for it. Whereas if your parents aren't interested you'll probably be scoffing processed food until you leave home (and possibly beyond).

(Sorry for long comment!)

Leigh said...

happy new year to you also !
Just a thought; i have always been of the idea that obesity in children doesnt jut stem from what they eat; the lack of excercise that schools and indeed parents often instil in them in these important years is simply not enough. At risk of sounding 'old and grumpy', not enough kids come home and then go out and play, or play football with thier mates. This is a larger problem than just parenting, but some kids just are not active enough. If you keep active, even in moderation, such as walking, you should be able to eat pretty what you want - and then that leads to enjoying food because nothing is denied.
just my view...!

Laure (Chardon) Moyle said...

hi Leigh, agree with you completely, it's all about balancing the calories you take in v the one you use! Here again . We try to spend at least an hour outside with the kids walking to the village,...on Saturday AND sundays comes rain or shine. I just wonder how I could start something to help people and kids for whom home made food and healthy habits don't come naturally. As Alex said, maybe if your parents aren't into going out and liking food you'll grow up the same (that's a bit sad :(...but maybe just maybe something could be tried ...I was thinking this afternoon , what about something in the same format as weight watchers (without the point system)- Local support groups, very positive frame, where families could come and discuss food stuff, learn to cook home made stuff in the same time they spend re heating ready meals (it IS possible), how to make 3 meals out of 1 dish to save time,....does that seems completely naive to you guys or what?