My kids get more candy in church than a rat can find in a trash can in a movie theater. I never noticed it before we changed the way we ate in May. I’ll admit, I was guilty of taking baked goods when I was a Sunday School teacher. But really, come on, flat out candy at 9:30 in the morning? For no reason?
“M2, did you get the candy for saying your memory verse?”
“No. We just got it when we walked in.”
“How about you, M1? Did your Sunday School teachers give you a snack?”
“Yeah. We got fruit snacks.”
Oh, “cavity snacks.” I used to feed those to M1 non-stop while she rode in the jogging stroller so I could get my run in without her screaming the whole time. Thank goodness she only had to have one tooth pulled at age 4 because of those sticky, sinful things.
And after Sunday School today they had children’s church. And in children’s church they blissfully received suckers.
This isn’t just this Sunday. Every single Sunday the girls receive a processed snack in Sunday School then a processed snack, usually candy, in children’s church. And if there’s a holiday or party, it is 20 times worse. It is about enough to make me stop going to church. I’m tired of cavities. I’m tired of hyperactivity. I’m tired of childhood obesity. I’m tired of people feeding my kids without my permission. Ignorance was bliss. When I knew and had learned nothing about nutrition. Do you know how much nutrition was taught at Indiana University School of Medicine when I was there from 1998-2002? None. And it was at that time the only medical school in the state. There was no nutrition taught in residency. Preposterous.
Artificial colors and preservatives are added to about all processed foods. Even cheddar cheese. There are diets based on removing them, as well as other chemicals that even occur naturally. The one I can think of off the top of my head is called “The Failsafe Diet.” I stumbled onto this as I was searching for a route to cure my intractable constipation. As I read about it, I realized that my oldest child, M1, could have issues with these food ingredients! She frequently complained of tummy aches, inability to rest her thoughts at night for sleep, and a nervous sort of energy and lack of focus. Trust me. I know. I teach her. Do a math problem. Stare out the window. Do one more math problem. Doodle through the middle of the page. Do another math problem. Sharpen the pencil. Go back and stare at my paper. It is NOT inability for math. It is the inability to calm and focus the mind on the task at hand. And as I read more, I experimented with her diet. And indeed, these artificial colors and preservatives affect her dramatically! And so do grains, but that’s for another day. I enjoyed reading Fed Up by Sue Dengate about The Failsafe Diet, but I don’t think it was a complete fit for us. But I learned so much! And I certainly have applied quite a bit of it.
Let ME feed my kid. I am slowly training my kids what good food is. And what makes it good. Or bad. It is not enough to say, “That’s not healthy for you.” Too black and white. I have been trying this. “Well, those fruit snacks have a chemical in it to make them red. The body doesn’t know how to break that chemical down and it can get into your brain! They taste good, but they really aren’t!” They’re catching on. We have a bargain now. They say “no” to the snack, and I will make them a favorite snack of their choice at home. Or, they’re making a miniature fairy house. We can go to the craft store, and they can get something for their fairy house. This is working very well. They have said “no” the last few Sundays. At first, my oldest felt bad to say “no, thank you” to her teacher. So we got to have a lesson on learning to say “no”! And explaining that it wouldn’t hurt her Sunday School teacher’s feelings. Just think, she’s already learning to say “no”! A lesson many of us need to learn to keep ourselves healthy! I’m 37 and still learning it! M1 is learning it at 8!
The point about the artificial preservatives was driven home to me again the other day. My husband really wanted some fresh cider like you can get from an Indiana apple orchard. So he trekked to the local grocery store. No luck. He trekked to Wal-Mart. He found some preserved, pasteurized apple cider, brought it home, spiced it, and heated it up. He and the girls drank it up. About a half-hour later, Mary came to me and said, “I have a tummy ache. It must have been the apple cider, mommy.” Potassium sorbate and a metabisphosphate were used for preservatives. Now we know! One or both of those give her tummy aches. And they are in so many foods! All those tummy aches she had in years past that I just learned to ignore. “Nothing.” I was poisoning her!
And she’s being poisoned at church. What to do? What would you do? What do you do? I am about to express my discontent to them. And I think I might just add on that TV at church isn’t my idea of great teaching, either. Kids need real food. And real people teaching.
Don’t Make Me Sick: Raising Food Allergy Awareness
Poisoned at Church, Sequel (A letter requesting change)
The Sunday Scoop, Asking for Change in Church’s Snack Policy (6/30/13) (Response to letter)