Losing 20 Pounds in 30 Days: Part 5 — Are Your Parents to Blame for Weight Gain?

Continued from Losing 20 Pounds in 30 Days: Part 4 — Going It Alone or With Support

When we look back at where we came from and where our weight problems originated, are our parents to blame for our weight gain later in life?  Are we to blame for our children’s weight gain in years to come?

Does it really matter?  Every generation does the best it can with what it knows, with it’s prevailing sciences and its radicals fighting for a different way. 

My grandparents cooked their food in lard.  I remember hearing health-minded relatives speak of it when I was a child.  Appalling!

Of course, when I was a child, things were different.  My parents didn’t cook my food in (gasp) lard.  Nope, my mama made me the most incredible breakfast during most of my growing years.  Sugar toast.  Yes, white bread cut into triangles and smothered in butter and about, oh, what?  an inch?  of sugar.  OMG, soooooo good.  Don’t laugh–just because it contained 3 of the most dangerous ingredients to my health.  Back in those days, if it tasted all right, it was safe.  If it tasted rancid or sour, it wasn’t, and that was that.

Oh, not that I ate only sugar toast as a growing girl.  There were other breakfasts, too…like Froot Loops, my second favorite.  You know, the sugary, fruity, little hoops of cereal?  Dissolving and going limp and crunchless in bowls of milk before any milk was ever reduced-fat or lactaid-free?  Obviously not sweet enough–that’s why it was important for me to add a whole teaspoonful of sugar from the canister, so I could spoon up the remaining milk and sugar and slurp up the last drops of sugary goodness.  This is when I wasn’t eating sugar straight from the canister.  Like most kids I knew.

By the time my own kids  were, well, kids….   Ideas about diet were changing.   I still recall teaching a writer’s workshop in Jacksonville, Florida, one weekend and talking to a nutritionist or dietician maybe for a hospital.  She was talking about the sudden boom of fat-free products on the market and the equally sudden boom in new diabetics she saw in her job.  It was the first I’d heard of it.  According to her, way back then, yes, foods were fat-free–something we assumed was a good thing–but more loaded than ever with sugar and carbs.  That conversation has stuck with me.  Most of us as parents tried to improve our household diets, and that included what we were being told was a good thing:  fat-free and low-fat foods, which unfortunately were high in other things that weren’t such a good thing.  

In the mid-90’s, when my girls were barely out of diapers, I was driving with a rocket scientist colleague to a conference at the University of Florida when we first heard about bovine growth hormone.  I was alarmed at the time because it was the same milk I was feeding to my toddlers and I’d never noticed anything on the ingredient list (ingredient lists were skimpier then but it doesn’t matter in this case) about growth hormones in the milk.  Technically, they were in the cow, according to the news report.  I came home raving about it to my family and was told 1. I’d obviously misunderstood and 2. Stop being a drama queen.

Now that my kids are (mostly) grown, their generation is faced with different but even worse food dangers than the previous generations.  We have all sorts of things hidden in our foods, whether they’re prepared in a restaurant or bought in our favorite grocery stores.  Even foods from the farmer’s market may be biologically altered or genetically engineered.  All sorts of fillers and potentially toxic allergens are in even the least suspected foods.

There’s no need to blame the previous generation.  My parents did the best they could with what they knew at the time.  I did the best I knew for my kids with what I knew then.  The best I can do is tell the girls what I’ve discovered in my own health improvements–all the while sounding a bit like a radical and probably getting on their nerves. 

But maybe I made a little headway in helping my next generation to understand my concern.  Tonight in the grocery store, I chose new (for me) products like coconut oil and almond flour and my 18-year-old returned to my cart with several items and pointed out that high fructose corn syrup wasn’t on the list of ingredients and that there was no added sugar. 

Small victories in awareness.  Blame and looking back at the past isn’t the place to start.  Making your own changes right now is.

And speaking of awareness, in the next part of this series on my detox diet, I’ll explain why I fired my family doctor.