A good rule for families to keep sticking by

I was in a local coffee shop a while back having a meal and heard a man order a large decaf coffee. No big deal. Then he ordered his very young son a large iced cappuccino. What? I have seen young couples let their four-year-olds have a sip of their iced cappuccinos too. Folks, those things are loaded with caffeine!

I was at the local ski hill a few years back and watched kid after kid in the cafeteria buy an energy drink – kids that looked as young as eight-years-old. I have to believe these parents plainly do not understand what is in those drinks or do not know their kids are having them.

When I was a kid we were not allowed to drink coffee until we were 16. That was the rule and I am here to tell you it’s a really good rule!

Let me ask you something – does coffee (or energy drinks or anything caffeine based) give you energy? Does it? Here’s the truth, it actually does not ‘give’ you energy. It forces your body to release stored energy from your endocrine system. It is a stimulant; it stimulates your body to release energy. Time after time I talk to young kids that say ‘energy drinks don’t do anything for me anymore.’ That is seriously frightening! That means their adrenal and thyroid and pituitary glands are so exhausted and so tired of being triggered, that they just don’t work any more. That is a serious medical condition that can take months and months to recover from! Kids (and adults) walking around exhausted all the time and cannot even think of starting their day without a hit of caffeine.

I know of a young man that used to drink two or three energy drinks a day because they didn’t give him a buzz anymore. At age 20 he had a heart attack driving down the highway. Age 20. No family history, no previous indicators. A heart attack. Think about that. When you are that young and drinking 200 or more mg of caffeine a day, where do you go from there?

To make matters worse I constantly see kids eating packaged, processed and chemically laden stuff masquerading as food. This is a one-two punch that will make our kids sick as they reach adult hood and it has to stop.

I believe it is time to teach our kids, and ourselves, that caffeine needs to be limited, seriously limited, and those under 16 should not be permitted to have it.

This is the time of resolutions and promises and goals – maybe it’s time we, as parents made sure we understand what is in the food and drinks that our kids consume, and realize that the long term effects are to be considered carefully.

Less chemicals, more real food. Less packages, more perimeter of the grocery store shopping. Less fast food, more real food.

If you do need fast food, there are options – wrap and pita places, chunky salads with protein on them, stir fry restaurants. Those are fast choices and actually real food.

I know we are all busy and we are all tired. But if we abuse caffeine and low quality food, we literally have nowhere to go and when we crash, it won’t be pretty.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.