It’s an interesting day when Cookie Monster gets invited to TEDMED, a national conference on medical innovation. They host some of the wisest, most creative people in the medical field every year to spread the word about new ideas.
Leave it to Cookie Monster to remind us that old ideas about health can be packaged in a new way and that those ideas will resonate with younger and young-at-heart audiences alike. I know many of my patients and their families are working hard on good nutrition and becoming more physically active. As I write this week, spring is just around the corner when playing outside makes an active lifestyle not just easy… but, well, FUN! When I realized Cookie Monster was interested in a little healthy self-improvement, I decided to share some of his ideas. If you had a mind to do so, you might watch the video clip with your young children.
I particularly like the fact that Cookie Monster knows who Scott Jurek is and that he is an admired athlete. Many of our children look up to star athletes and performers, and it’s a great idea to ask your child if quarterback RG3 or soccer standout, Mia Hamm would choose Cocoa-Strudel-Puff-Crunch for breakfast! Those amazing athletes became successful with training but also with healthy habits, and it’s important that our children understand that their personal choices matter… probably a lot more when you think about actively choosing to live in a healthy way. We won’t be there to help our kids make good choices forever.
Jurek teaches briefly about “Anytime and All-the-Time Foods” and tries to contrast them with “Sometimes Foods.” Do we as parents offer “Sometimes Foods” more often than we should (which for the record is occasionally)? Try keeping a talley for your own family. I often have to remind myself that my children do not grocery shop and that when I do buy junk food, it is (guilty, I know!) to make them happy not healthy. I assure you that the positive feedback (“You are the BEST Mom ever!) I get for buying a box of PopTarts stands in striking contrast to the expression I see when it’s Raisin Bran or GrapeNuts I offer. You can put a star athlete on the box of Corn Flakes, but it doesn’t make the cereal taste like a PopTart.
Think about the “Anytime Foods” in your kitchen. Are you well stocked? Mother Nature packages apples as conveniently as an apple Nutrigrain Bar is packaged so: no excuses! Open those cabinets and the fridge. Do you see more fruits and veggies than pre-packaged snacks? Can you hold the grocery shoppers in the family accountable for the choices available to the children? Remember: if the choice doesn’t look tasty and inviting to you, it probably won’t to your child. The Cleveland Clinic has some great resources that I use. Check out their website if you’re looking for ideas.
Make a point to say “yes” to any fruit or vegetable when your child asks for a snack. If your child is “starving” in the hour before dinner, by all means, offer those “Anytime Foods” and don’t give a second thought to the possibility that it may spoil an appetite for dinner. “But I’m not hungry for that, Mom.” Well, I’d have to say then, that you’re not that hungry. Dinner’s in an hour!
Some of these small changes are ones that can add up to years of better health. And isn’t that what TEDMED is really all about? Spreading ideas that will bring better health to every one of us is one of the very best parts of my job.