Zen & M’s: Let them eat cookies
Don’t let this week’s title fool you – I’m not implying that gorging on cookies will lead to the healthy mind and body Zen & M’s advocates for. But, remember my first blog post?
I’m talking to you, state of Massachusetts.
To be clear, I want to qualify that the lawmakers who have stolen our double chocolate chip cookies and limited our calories have their hearts in the right places. They want us to be healthy. And I do like the idea of having more whole grains available because I’ve come to love them for their taste and for their nutritional value. Also, I can’t object to more yummy fruits and veggies.
Okay, now the gloves are coming off.
As a senior, I’m passionate that high school is a time we need to spend learning how to be adults and make our own decisions, especially during our last year. Next year, many of my fellow seniors and I are going to run off to our respective schools where we’ll experience a freedom we haven’t known before: open dining plans. No matter where we’re headed next year, we need the option to put whatever we want into our bodies, so we learn how to make the healthy choices ourselves. If we don’t learn how to make those decisions this year, the freshman 15 will dole out some tough love next year.
Also, I find it demeaning to tell a high schooler of any age that they’re not qualified to make their own lunch choices. I’m going to be old enough to vote in the upcoming presidential election. What does the legislature have to say to the fact that I’m qualified to choose our president, but not what I put in my own body?
Granted, I bring my own lunch. So, I am making that choice. But still, school lunch is a more feasible and convenient option for many students and their families. And having the word “school” attached to it should provide choice as a means of education.
Also, it’s upsetting to me that the students of Wayland High School are not allowed to have class parties anymore. Parties and spontaneous events such as that are a part of life. I once read in a health blog that “pizza happens.” We don’t live in an ideal world where we can close our eyes and all sweets and temptations cease to exist. Sometimes, a friend will bake cookies or order a pizza just for fun. Maybe it’s even somebody’s birthday. Any and all of these situations occur, and class parties can help us learn to navigate them. One party doesn’t cause a child to become obese, especially if the student is taught to stick to one or two of the sweets offered and to lay off of the dessert later that night.
Shifting to another aspect of these new nutrition rules, I have to be honest that the emphasis on calories worries me. As a teenage girl, I know how stressful calories can be. But it needs to be taught that calories aren’t bad – they just are. What’s more important than counting calories is keeping track of the nutrients you put into your body to contribute to your personal health. Are you getting the amount of vitamins, iron and protein your body needs?
There’s no mold for the perfect diet because everyone is different. An athlete (or fitness enthusiast) is different from a couch potato, and girls are different from boys, depending on lifestyle. Instead of trying to put everyone in the same category, we need to learn how we’re different from each other so we find what works for us individually. If I ate like my sister, I would be a statistic for childhood obesity. But, as those of you who know her can testify, she gets her twig body by eating french fries in front of the TV.
Obesity isn’t an “epidemic.” It’s not like the flu, you can’t catch it. However, what you can catch are bad habits, especially if you’re not being taught good habits. My vote is to stop the bad habit epidemic, which can only be combated through an education of how to treat your body right.