In Del Norte, there are traditions to keep, and habits to break.
Thursday is Thanksgiving, and most of us will settle down to a feast of turkey and all the trimmings. It’s a holiday in which we count our blessings, and it’s only natural that it be built around food. Sustenance is the stuff of life. If we overdo the celebration a bit, oh well …
The problem is that overeating is hardly a special occasion for many of us. If adults made Thursday the exception rather than the rule, they’d set a good example for their kids and we’d all have something to be thankful for.
Del Norte got put on the map in an unfortunate way by a recent statewide report that found nearly half our children to be overweight or obese. In fact, from 2005 to 2010, our county had the highest percentage increase in overweight kids in all of California.
That fact makes our children — our future — more prone to diabetes, cardiovascular problems, stroke and cancer. If the trend continues, it will lead to a decrease in life expectancy.
So much for leaving the world a better place for our kids.
With the economy in the pits, there’s a lot we can’t control about our quality of life these days. But eating too much food, or the wrong types of food, is one serious problem that we all have the ability to address.
Help is out there. If you’re not sure where to start, try typing “healthy eating” into an Internet search engine and go from there. There’s plenty of advice in cyberspace about basic, economical changes that can make a big difference. It’s not true that you have to be financially well off to afford a healthier lifestyle. All you really need is the willpower.
In many cases, help has actually come to our front door, encouraging our youth— and by extension the rest of us — to eat healthier foods and exercise more:
• The Network for a Healthy California “has made great strides in getting our kids to try new fruits and vegetables and incorporate physical activity into lessons,” according to the coordinator in our local school district.
• A local group of educators, parents and medical professionals has formed the Children’s Health Collaborative, which has already taken concrete steps to improve school meals while continuing to study other possible solutions.
• Childhood obesity is also in the sights of The California Endowment, which selected Del Norte to be part of its 10-year Building Healthy Communities initiative. Endowment money already aided the aforementioned collaborative in establishing salad bars at every school. It’s also a possible source of seed money for efforts to provide recreational opportunities for all of our kids, not just the most athletic ones.
We live in a recreational paradise, but that doesn’t automatically overcome the powerful American sedatives of television, Internet, video games and junk food. This requires awareness and willpower to effect simple changes that can prolong and dramatically improve our lives.
So pass the gravy and mashed potatoes. Have a happy Thanksgiving.
Then think about ways to put our bountiful blessings to better use.