At Home in Nature

  (Agate, Colorado)
TwoInTents Blog
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Are your children obese?

While every child loves fruit, most love vegetables if they are exposed to them a dozen times or more.  Vegetables are better foods for children than fruits, but the causes of obesity are numerous.  If you have trouble getting your children to eat their veggies, write to me - I have plenty of ideas, from having fun cooking adventures with them to making them pretty on the plate: apetites are increased by more than just sauces!

In the mean time, I read some scary statistics from the new book Ending the Food Fight, Guide Your Child to a Healthy Weight in a Fast Food/Fake Food World by David Ludwig, MD, PhD.  They speak for themselves:


* The percentage of overweight children ages six to 11 has doubled in the last 25 years.


* The percentage of overweight teens has tripled.


* One in three American children (30 million kids) are overweight today (and it is predicted that one in two — a full half of all children! — will be overweight by 2010).


* Pediatricians now treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, “adult” onset (type 2) diabetes, heart attacks, and sleep apnea in children.


* By the time overweight children are in their 20s, they can expect to be diagnosed with diseases that normally affect people in their 60s and 70s, including heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and even amputations caused by complications from diabetes.


* Overweight children are discriminated against more than those in wheelchairs or with facial disfigurement.


* Childhood obesity affects the quality of life as much as a diagnosis of cancer does.


* Life expectancy is declining for the first time in human history.


* A typical child sees 10,000 junk food ads a year.


* Modern foods are made by food chemists, not grown by farmers.


* Neighborhood playgrounds, school physical education, and after-school programs have all declined dramatically — while junk food vending machines are now everywhere in schools.


* A Harvard study of 750 children from 10 to 15 years old found that kids who watched five hours of television or more a day (compared to those who watched two hours or less), had a FIVE-fold (500 percent) greater risk of being overweight.


* Sixty percent of all childhood obesity can be attributed to watching TV. For every hour of TV watched, weight increases by six pounds.


* Soda intake has increased 500 percent since the 1950s and now comprises 10 percent of all calories consumed by the average teenager.


* Among 500 middle school children, the risk of becoming obese increased 60 percent for every additional serving of sugar-sweetened drink per day.


* In a study of 3,000 children over 15 years, those eating fast food twice a week or more gained an extra 10 pounds. (One fast food meal can contain more than the all the calories the body needs for the entire day!)


Dr. Ludwig’s solutions are not too different from what we have been hearing for years, yet very few parents are following this basic common sense advice for healthy living.  It’s not too late to affect your family’s health for the better, but it may be too late if we don’t all do something soon.




Have you camped in your backyard?

A fun adventure for children is camping in the woods, but the next best thing is camping out in the backyard.  While a safe place for the family to explore the basics of camping and do a “dry run” of a real camping adventure with children, it provides enough excitement and interest for the children to keen their interest in the adventure of wilderness camping while sharpening their minds to the skills they will require later.

Stay up late and watch the stars and the moon, listen to the night animals.  Did they know they had so many nighttime neighbors?  Give a thought to the poor who are forced to camp in the city with or without a tent.  There are so many big thoughts for a small night out.  Such thoughts give confidence in school.

Later, when the kids grow up they will think back on the occasional nights out and remember the lessons you taught them, and begin to think of the entire world as their backyard.


A Night Walk

A walk before bed is a peaceful meditation for children who are afraid of the dark.  Seeing that night time is a time of rest for some creatures, but an active time for others helps create a question of when is an appropriate time for people to rest?  Some people rest on and off all day and all night, others rest at night only, and some unfortunate people are awake all night and sleep all day.  Purposefully experimenting with these alternative lifestyles helps a child learn that they feel better if they go to bed shortly after dark, after a nice early evening stroll under the stars. 


And look at the stars!  Tell their stories; tell the stories of the night creatures you see and hear.  If you walk in a riparian area at night, you’ll be serenaded by countless songs.  There are few more majestic moments than the coyote song at night, or seeing the deer peacefully graze under a crescent moon. 


Does the child realize that they see better at night than we do?  We are daytime creatures, who need rest at night.  Say goodnight to all the things you see; become at peace with the world and all the monsters disappear.  It is a big world, too big for frightening things under the bed or in the closet. 


What nightmares could we have after such a wonderful nighttime stroll with those whom we love?

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