Do you suffer from Soccer Mom Syndrome?
I’m not talking about the kind where your life is consumed by a circus of kids piling out of your minivan like clowns as they rush to soccer practice. I’m talking about the kind where you bring Doritos and Gatorade to all the kids on your child’s team. I know it seems harmless. After all, your child is running up and down a soccer field not sitting in front of the t.v. BUT, it may be more harmful than you think.
As parents you obviously want your child to eat healthy. The problem is, when we have 5 minutes to pick the kids up, go to the grocery store, feed them and get them to practice, we tend to forego the healthy option for the easy one. Don’t feel bad. You are definitely not alone!
What exactly is Soccer Mom Syndrome?
Dr. Diane Rose breaks down her theory for us.
Soccer Mom Syndrome, SMS for short, is a theory about the tendency of parents to give their child an unhealthy snack over a healthy one for multiple reasons. Some justifications include:
- “My children are active in sports and other activities so they must be healthy and can eat an unhealthy snack because they are going to work it off.”
- “My children worked hard in their activity today (i.e. soccer game) so they can have an unhealthy snack as a reward.”
- “My children and I are all so busy because of our activities that we don’t have time to prepare healthy snacks.”
- “My children are given unhealthy snacks at their activities and love them, so there’s no way I can control that.”
- “My children are picky and won’t eat healthy food so I’d rather feed them unhealthy food than have them go hungry.”
SMS stems from two major issues in our opinion.
The Fear of Hunger
Dr. Diana Rose brings up a really good point. “Fear of hunger is rampant amongst parents I know.” As a parent, your sole responsibility is to care for your children and feeding them is pretty high on the priority list. When kids don’t eat it can be really stressful! So there is a tendency for parents to feed their picky-eaters anything, no matter how healthy or unhealthy it may be, for fear of them going hungry. The truth is, your child will not go hungry. Dr. Rose reiterates, “Kids need to know hunger is a natural consequence of not eating.” She also ads that giving them permission not to eat may diffuse the control situation, allowing them to decide if they want to eat or not. If you can’t stand to wait until the next meal, which they will survive to see, you can always offer them something an hour later.
Lack of Time and Easy Options
Unfortunately the busy culture of our society promotes fast and easy options that tend to be more on the unhealthy side. Let’s me honest who has time to whip up the perfectly healthy dinner or snack in between the madness of working, keeping up the house and being a taxi driver parent extraordinaire. We know the snack packs and chicken nuggets make life a lot easier! This is one of those things that requires effort and planning. Maybe its something you can prepare on the weekends. Maybe it’s about making a grocery list so that you do have health go to options available. Click here for my list of 10 snacks you don’t have feel guilty about. Listen, sometimes were good at this and sometimes its one of those days, we get it. But remember healthy eating starts at home.
Why is SMS such a problem?
I know the snacks at soccer practice don’t seem like a serious threat but eating habits are developed early. What we really need to pay attention to are the long-term effects of SMS. Picking convenience over health is a lesson that can stick for a lifetime. So think about the BIG PICTURE and remember that when you put in the work to teach good healthy eating habits you are setting them up for a healthy lifestyle. Dr. Rose sums it up well. “When you don’t…well…all you have to do is look around to see what happens.”
So, what can you do?
- Research some fast healthier options in your neighborhood.
- When you have the time, cut up some fruits and vegetables for your kids to grab as a snack.
- Eliminate unhealthy snacks from the home – my mother always said, “nothing out of a bag or a box”.
- Forego popular sports or sugary drinks. What’s wrong with plain, old water?
- Always think long term! These eating habits you instill in your kids will set the stage for how they view nutritions later in life.