Michelle Obama’s run on trying to mandate everything from what food children should eat to what they can and can’t sell stirs schools, the wellness and health community and the general public.
Kyle Olson, in a recent article reports about a backlash to the First Lady’s new regulations about school lunches but more importantly what she is requiring the school to refrain from doing.
Alarmed by the child obesity epidemic that has engulfed some states, Ms. Obama mandated that bake sales be stricken from schools’ hallways because it can help mitigate the obesity epidemic and produce healthier eating habits. This however is seen as going against the psychology behind the issues with food and how these messages are carried by children into adulthood. Kids assimilate and internalize such messages into “this food is bad for me. I’m a bad person for eating it and I feel extremely guilty for eating it.” This is exactly how bad relationships with food start and a lifetime of food struggles begin. One has to wonder what the long term psychological effects of First Lady Obama’s knee-jerk reaction to the childhood obesity epidemic will do.
There are many accompanying studies that report the failure rate for diets and behavior change are incredibly high in these types of situations. This may have to do with a small, powerful rule used by fitness, wellness and health professionals when trying to change someone’s bad habits. If you tell someone they can’t have something, it will escalate the failure rate.
Health experts also say, that one of the critical aspects of healthy eating is to understand that you can have and enjoy certain foods in moderation. This has been the Weight Watchers’ winning strategy for years. More importantly, you are not a bad person for eating it. Asked to comment on the Obama incident, they said there is a healthy mentality and joy that comes from the “bonding” experience parents have with children in sharing the experience of baking and preparing food. Further, raising money and doing something for the school reinforces goal setting, teamwork and accomplishment. These are life skills and ones we all need.
This country was founded by freedom of choice – there is a reason for that.
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