The other day I was shopping for groceries when I overheard a pretty fascinating moment between a father and a daughter. She was begging him to get a particular food item for her, and he said to her, “If you can read those three words then, you can get it, but if not, you can’t have it.” The girl was elementary school age and was obviously struggling with her reading, but she immediately began trying to sound out the words. It was great seeing a dad using this moment to encourage his daughter in her development as a person, learning to read. But then I glanced down at what she was trying to read: “Brown. Sugar. Cinnamon.” Those were the three words, and they were the flavor of a type of Pop Tarts she wanted.
Don’t get me wrong. I totally admire a father spending quality time with his daughter, using a “teachable moment” to encourage her to read. We all know the importance of reading for success and happiness in life, and we would rightfully be angry at parents or teachers who did not care that all children were encouraged in the strongest way to learn how to read.
We know that reading is something that must be taught. We know most kids will not pick it up on their own. A caring adult must spend lots of time with them over years in order for their brain to develop and grasp the necessary concepts. But I was also devastated by this father’s actions in that moment. I couldn’t help but notice that his daughter was also borderline obese. While obviously a number of factors contribute to obesity, it was so troubling to see that the “reward” for the good behavior of trying to read in that moment was Pop Tarts.
I wonder if this father, who obviously loves his daughter tremendously, is even aware that he is teaching her to cause harm to her body and setting her up for a lifetime of medical problems? Is he aware that the company which makes products like Pop Tarts, which have been known to advertise to children (and their parents) that they are “made with real fruit” are now being sued for contributing to Type 2 Diabetes in young people?
In our nation today, we ought to consider it unacceptable for children anywhere, barring certain understandable learning disabilities, to reach the third grade without basic reading skills. But equally as essential to success, happiness, and health in this life is learning the skill of knowing what foods to eat and which to avoid. And this is also something that must be taught, particularly in a culture that is veering in quite the opposite direction.
Please stop by Ranicki Chiropractic Wellness or click here for our Wellness Page, if you are struggling with obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, or have questions about how to learn the basics of a healthier lifestyle. Many of us learned to read, but so many of us were never shown how to eat healthily. We can help change that.