Donuts to Broccoli

18 08 2011

When my brothers and I were children (lo these many years ago), our mom went into the kitchen every night and cooked dinner for the family. We had beef, pork or chicken, potatoes, two kinds of colorful vegetables and, once a week or so, a homemade dessert.

Occasionally, noodles would take the place of the potatoes, but pasta never graced our table. We were Midwesterners, for crying out loud.

There was one obese kid in our school and we knew just a handful of obese adults. We didn’t know anyone who was undernourished, except as abstract beings brought into play when we didn’t want to eat black-eyed peas: “Don’t you know there are starving kids in (fill in the blank)? Eat your peas!”

It feels ridiculously self-indulgent to talk about obesity when families in Somalia and those escaping that land are starving, but there you are. Today I am thinking and acting locally.

Millions of obese Americans face health risks that could be eliminated or reduced by weight loss. Obesity impairs immune function and causes a host of other ailments. It’s time to step away from the donuts and embrace broccoli.

I used to cook a lot—experimenting in the kitchen was therapeutic. Then I became a parent. Between work and homework, the activities of two kids, and one incredibly annoying picky eater, I gradually found little time and less inclination to do anything in the kitchen besides microwave leftover take-out or “cook” a prepackaged dinner in the oven.

My weight has nearly doubled in the last 15 years and my kids are lethargic slugs.

When we were young, my brothers and I spent hours outside running and playing and were never tired. Long car trips were what exhausted us. Almost the opposite is true today—my kids can sit and text or surf the web or listen to their iPods for hours.

I physically feel the effects of obesity, and the guilt of not providing a healthier daily diet for my kids gnaws at me. Are any of you going through the same thing? Or maybe you were and you’ve found a way out? What did you do?

I bought some melon. And broccoli. And for once we’re going to eat them before they go bad, hiding in the back of the refrigerator.

Obesity is preventable. It’s time I got off my considerable rear end to do something about it for me and for my kids. And like it or not, they’re unplugging and getting off of the couch and out into the world.

If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

By Trish Parnell

Image courtesy of franςois @ edito.qc.ca