Healthy eating for kids are you doing your bit?

The Good Life Letter 

Sunday 7th August  2011

  • Salt in children's food risks lives - how can this be allowed to happen?
  • Anorexia is a problem for society, make a contribution NOW
  • Is healthy eating for kids really so hard?

Wow. What an interesting week - and no mistake.

First a big thank you to everyone who sent comments in about the two letters about salt and water in our diets. I have tried to answer as many of you as I can, but please bear with me if you are still waiting for a reply.

In general it seems that I struck a nerve in both cases, with many of you voicing the same opinions - and indeed most of you having tales to tell of your own experiences.

On Tuesday I also found that The Guardian found its voice about salt in baby food - about time the main stream media picked up on this stuff. It does make me question whether healthy eating for kids really is that difficult.

Their report stated that almost three quarters of eight month old babies consume too much salt due to a diet of processed food.

Unhealthy levels of salt in foods and sauces can lead to kidney failure in young babies, and will also give them a taste for salty foods as they age.

Now far be it from me to suggest that food manufacturers are developing a culture of dependence from an early age...but it makes you think, doesn't it?

Family Food State

One of the big stories this week that stopped me in my tracks concerned the fact that there are children in the UK not eating, and in the same breath children in Somalia dying through lack of food.

Last year more than 2,000 children in the UK were treated for anorexia, some as young as five - with a statistic from the Institute of Child Health stating that three in every 100,000 children have an eating disorder in the UK.

What kind of society are we bringing our kids into?

I understand the pressure placed on everyone to have the perfect body, and I recognise the role played by fantasist fashion models, but even so this is a situation that several generations of parents have to respond to.

My own kids have a really healthy respect for their bodies, and we allow them freedom to express their individuality in how they dress and what they listen to. I pray that they don't ever have to use food as a way to prove themselves.

Anorexia is a poorly understood condition which dramatically affects the sufferer and those around them, and the last thing I would want to do is imply that it is simply a sign of wayward parents.

Often anorexia can hurt the closest and most loving of families.

Managing the condition is a very complex process, but it is one that we should support and respond to as a society.

We need to demonstrate the art of food production, selection, preparation and consumption as families. Grow a few salad vegetables in a tub or window box and get the kids to chop them and eat them with a bit of plain grilled chicken or fish, or roasted peppers stuffed with fragrant rice - it's not hard. 

A difficult situation needs a multi faceted solution. I'm not naive enough to believe it will work in all cases but unless we do something the consequences are unthinkable.

Too many young lives are being put at risk in the pursuit of commercial gain - whatever the apologists at the fashion houses, food manufacturers and advertising media have to say.

Technology at its best

Those of you who have taken the Good Life letter over the years will know that I'm not technology guru.

Despite the fact that I have the pleasure of sending you my letters via the magic inter-web, and have my little [shop] open twenty four hours a day, every day - I really don't understand how it works. 

When my editor suggested opening a shop I thought she meant I was going to become some sort of West Country Arkwright!

So, imagine my surprise when one of the technology elves at my publishers popped his head round the door and told me that he had just launched my books on Kindle.

Not really knowing whether to smile, laugh or sob I thanked him for his sterling work and stared wildly around the room hoping to get a clue from the Good Life team.

Well, it appears printed books are not the only way you lucky people can read my collected works comprising of The Lemon Book, The Spice Healer & The Honey, Garlic & Vinegar Miracle.

Very gingerly the elf handed me a piece of technology the like of which I've never seen before, basically an electronic book. I really liked it.

Although my Luddite fingers were challenged by working out how to turn a page initially I was soon able to drive it like a professional.

The relieved elf took the Kindle back again and scurried of to his darkened corner to wipe the greasy finger marks off of his latest toy, they can be so protective.

Anyway, if you have already made the jump to electronic books make sure you check out my books

For the rest of you who remain firmly rooted to the Caxton method of reading, keep your eyes peeled for a treat close to Christmas...yes I'm busy writing a new book, and this time it will be radically different from everything that has gone before - more of that nearer the time.

I hope you have all enjoyed a little of the sunshine this week, keep those vitamin D levels up.

Yours as always,



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