How do we make Australia healthier?

I look at my experiences differently as a Health Coach. Take last weekend as an example – 5 couples went away on a planned getaway. We booked out an expensive house, indulgent but lovely. I wasn’t drinking as I hit 25 weeks of pregnancy but everyone else enjoyed quite a few drinks. We all enjoyed food in excess – home made gnocchi & pizza, multiple cheese platters, bacon (not for me), eggs, avocado, haloumi, nuts, even a bit of chocolate. In everyone’s defence, this was a special weekend & all admitted they would “suffer for the cause” after!

There was a lot of giggling, swearing (which doesn’t happen at home) & plenty of really fascinating conversations. Having beautiful friends who are a Pediatric Doctor, a lawyer, & a Personal Trainer, I of course opened the floodgates with discussions of obesity, prevention, labelling of foods, obstacles to weight loss in lower-socio economic areas (such as not being safe to walk to school, lack of playgrounds, being unable to afford sports equipment). Then there is the next baffling obstacle: government. I am not a political person, you will not see me protesting or wearing a t-shirt of my preferred political party.

It is incomprehensible to me that as an Australian taxpayer, millions of dollars are spent every year on “fixing” obese patients, yet the Government is not subsidising the factor that contributes to 70% of the problem: diet.

Why aren’t fruit & vegetables subsidised rather than junk food?
Why isn’t more money being spent on pregnant women – educating them how to feed themselves & their future offspring? Rather than “healthy eating guidelines”, a more beneficial guide would be some sample meals.

I firmly believe Government also need to be regulating food packaging more. The words “natural”, “healthy” & “sugar-free” mean nothing. I read the ingredients of every product I buy, especially for my children (yes, I’m that person in the supermarket who agonisingly picks up a packet, reads the ingredients then shakes her head & mutters about how disappointing it is).
Even better, minimise processed foods that contain ingredients – whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains (where you can phsyically SEE the grain- eg brown rice, buckwheat), & if you choose to eat them organic eggs, & organic meat.
The health star system is incredibly flawed & misleading to someone uneducated who is making the effort to try for healthier choices. First area it is flawed is by basing the rating on kilojoules. How backward!

It’s interesting how going back to my parents house now, I’ve been telling them (they don’t get a choice!), that they need to implement a few swaps – like:

  • buying organic peanut butter (instead of Aldi or Kraft brand which contains sugar & vegetable oil), & checking there’s nothing added.
  • buying organic eggs (instead of free-range)
  • Checking the ingredients on bread as the cheap ones tend to contain sugar.
  • I buy organic apples & carrots, where Mum is happy with conventional.

Interestingly, my sons also consume more gluten, milk & high-fructose fruits while at my parents.

Last weekend my sons had a sleepover (where they stayed will not be mentioned!) – my 5 year old came home hyperactive & excited to tell me they had Domino’s pizza, “lots” of apple juice & sweet, processed biscuits. He then proceeded to have the worst diarrhoea he’s had in years. I feel strongly that no household should have processed juice, or flavoured milk more than a handful of times a year. Never would be better. How about modelling to children the right way to eat & setting them up for life? 

As a parent, has your mindset changed on future proofing health?

 

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