This week many important elections occurred across the country and during these elections many state and local issues were addressed too. Here in Houston, voters decided for a 469 million dollar school bond, but against red light cameras at intersections. But in San Francisco, the city’s board of supervisors, not voters, decided to ban toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals, making some parents and their children not so “happy.” McDonald’s isn’t the only one the ban effects, but they are leading the charge of opposition against it.
The Happy Meal Ban Proposition
According to the measure, restaurants will be forbidden to offer toys with meals that contain too much fat and sugar. Why did they leave out sodium? But I digress. It’s not that restaurants can’t offer toys; they can only offer them with meals that included fruits and vegetables only if the food and drink combined are less than 600 calories and if less than 35% calories in that meal come from fat. The ordinance is scheduled to take effect in December 2011.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times Supervisor Eric Mar said “We’re part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice. From San Francisco to New York City, the epidemic of childhood obesity in this country is making our kids sick, particularly kids from low income neighborhoods, at an alarming rate.”
San Francisco isn’t the only government making the rules about dining, but Happy Meals have been declared illegal in Santa Clara County and New York City implemented a restaurant Trans Fat ban and calorie count posting requirement.
Parenting and the Happy Meal Ban
Whether you agree with the ban or not; or even understand it there is one fact that remains; that our children do need to be taught about healthy lifestyles, eating right and exercise. This type of “law” may not make sense to you or me, but one thing is clear; our children do need to be healthy so how can we make that happen?
How can parents fight obesity and help our children be healthier?
First, let’s define obesity. After all, it is possible to be within your normal weight and still be unhealthy and unfit, but according to the CDC obesity is a “label for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height.” It’s no wonder that children are bullied because from the very beginning adults are placing labels on them.
As time has gone on these ranges of weight/height have changed. After all Marilyn Monroe was considered a sex goddess, one of the most beautiful women ever and she was a size 14, but times have changed and with it our definition of what is height/weight appropriate. So, let’s avoid labels and look at our decisions instead.
Parents can just say no. It is easy. No, you can’t have fries. No we aren’t going to McDonalds, Burger King or Taco Bell. No you can’t have the Happy Meal. No you can’t have the ice cream, candy bar or (insert item here). It’s simple. Our children may throw a tantrum, or they may not. But one thing they will do is learn that “No” means “No,” and that’s an important lesson to teach them.
Need help telling your child no? Try these tips: explain where you are going and your expectations when you get there. Let them know the consequences if expectations are not met. Be reasonable in your expectations. Explain things clearly to them and remind them if needed, but do not discuss or negotiate while you are out to lunch or dinner. If all else fails, leave.
Encourage good choices in both exercise and eating habits. Each night my daughter and I look at the school menu and discuss “good choices.” She is in Kindergarten and loves to buy school lunches. I know that they aren’t all healthy, but you can make healthy choices from them. I can also adjust our eating habits at home to make up for any lack of nutrition at school.
Set the example with your food choices. Of course our children want to order the cheeseburger, after all you did. Check your portion sizes.
Encourage activities that don’t revolve around food. For example go bowling instead of to dinner.
Encourage physical activity. This doesn’t have to mean organized sports, but those are good too, and even better if you show up to cheer them on, but any outdoor activity from riding bikes to playing in the backyard or swimming will all keep them healthy and fit.
According to a study at the Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition, “Successful intervention efforts, they argue, must involve and work directly with parents from the earliest stages of child development to support healthful practices both in and outside of the home.” Most importantly for our children to be healthy decide to show your children how to make healthy choices instead of just telling them to.
NY Daily News