Below is a snapshot into our modern world – particularly when it comes to our children’s health and wellbeing. I don’t say this to be a downer, or to throw judgement – I know parents are doing everything they can to navigate this face-paced, village-less, tech-driven world we live in. I say this because it’s what our culture has become. It’s where we are now, but it’s not where we have to be tomorrow. And that’s the important thing. Awareness, education, simple lifestyle swaps – these are the things that can push us towards change – slow change, not overnight change, and that is the key. Allow yourself to create new routines, to slowly create a new way of living, which overall will support your health and wellbeing- for us and our children – through modifying food and lifestyle habits and practicing mindfulness.
1 in 3 children start secondary school overweight or obese, and the number of children and young people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes has increased by 40 per cent in the past four years. The good news – preventing & reversing this condition is 100% in our control!
Type 2 diabetes has almost always been an adult onset disease, caused by years of poor nutrition & lifestyle choices. Now it’s effecting our children. Just look around you and you’ll see how the shape of our children is changing. I’ve seen families walk through that vicious cycle of childhood obesity, as though it almost happens overnight. The commercial food industry doesn’t help us. In the midst of all of this confusion around commercial food marketing, we think we’re making good decisions but often times this is based on the way it’s marketed and not the nutritional value.
However, food is only one part of the problem. There are many other potential biological drivers of obesity and Type 2 diabetes such as physical inactivity, sleep quality and chronic stress, and there is also the socioeconomic determinants of health. Meaning, we are essentially a product of our environment.
Our behavior is determined by the environment around us, especially when it comes to food. We can try to make healthy lifestyle choices but our efforts can only go so far when we’re surrounded by an environment that puts priority somewhere else.
Nutrition is key – absolutely – but you can eat all the omega 3 & vitamin d in the world, if you are not approaching health holistically, then nutrition will only serve as a short term fix. Sooner or later, our will power will run out. Physical = Mental = Physical. Holistic.
Simple changes – find easy ways to move more – walking is a great first step (pardon the pun), sleep better (shut down the blue light way before it’s time to shut our eyes) and reduce stress (find two minutes to engage in breathing exercises which is scientifically proven to reduce anxiety and prevent acute stress from turning into chronic stress). All of this applies to our kids as well. We can teach them to read labels and understand food groups, but let’s also help them carry into their adolescents the joy of movement which they experience in childhood, and most importantly how to understand and process their emotions rather than bury or push them aside.
With half of all mental illness starting before the age of fifteen, we need to tap into children’s health & well-being from the onset. Health & wellbeing isn’t a single thing. It’s organised into many areas: mental, emotional, social, physical wellbeing; physical education, activity & movement; food & health – to name a few. As kids and adults – the highs & lows experienced through our emotions (which not only have a biological impact but also a mental impact) can find a middle ground much more quickly when we are aware – mindful. Mindfulness is about noticing what we’re doing and responding in a way that feels right, for us. And kids are brilliant at learning this. The research out there is nothing short of brilliant and it all suggest that learning and practicing mindfulness can help us to create harmony and balance in our lives.
Tackling all areas of health & wellbeing, with mindfulness at the helm, is a way to ensure that our children are prepared for life in the modern world (that face-paced, village-less, tech-driven modern world). Developing qualities such as confidence, resilience, self-respect and self-control can help kids to achieve a stronger, more grounded emotional quotient, which ultimately will help to create a more three dimensional human. One who is socially and emotionally aware of their environment so as to not become a product of their environment, but to work within the conditions of their environment. And for adults, it’s one of the ways we can prevent and/or reverse the chronic lifestyle medical conditions that we are burdened with.
If you’re interested in health and wellbeing, or taking this mindset into your child’s school or into your home please get in touch. Incorporating practices like mindfulness, movement and healthy eating will help to put the theory into practice, and that’s where the real education and awareness begins. That’s where we stop intellectualising change and start creating change, thereby, undoubtedly creating a generation of resilient, healthy and confident individuals.