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This is what your body goes through when you have a hangover This is what your body goes through when you have a hangover

Health

This is what your body goes through when you have a hangover

You might be interested to know what’s actually going on inside your body when you have a hangover and why you feel so bad.

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There are several rituals associated with the morning after a night of heavy drinking. Checking your cell phone, wincing at the text messages that seemed hilarious and pivotal at 2 am — scratching your head when looking at your decimated bank balance until you find receipts for multiple rounds of shots at a late-night bar. Then there’s the hangover.

Ah, the hangover. A rite of passage that everybody needs to experience at least once. Most people associate a hangover with an aching head and feeling exhausted, but there’s far more to it. Your body is undergoing a reaction to your partying the night before.

Why do I feel like death this morning?

Because, in many respects, you flirted with death last night. That sounds melodramatic, but it’s true to an extent. Alcohol sparks narcosis, a condition described in the dictionary as “a state of stupor, drowsiness, or unconsciousness produced by drugs.” Eventually, narcosis leads to death.

Alcohol, in small doses, only causes minor narcosis. It restricts a small amount of brain activity – usually the parts associated with reflexes, comprehension, and decision-making. This is why small amounts of alcohol may boost your self-esteem and sense of confidence. It takes a lot more than most humans could drink in one night to actually kill us.

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All the thoughts and fears that dominate your sober brain melt away when you drink alcohol. Toss in the fact that most alcoholic drinks also contain sugar, which releases dopamine, and you have a recipe for a good time. Your brain feels rewarded by alcohol. This is why all of your jokes seem 50% funnier, and you grow convinced that you have the singing voice of an angel.

Naturally, this encourages you to drink more. To heck with less is more. Just imagine how much more would be!

Bear with me. I need to throw up

That’s a key component to a hangover. The primary element of alcohol is the chemical compound ethanol. When you drink alcohol, ethanol is spread throughout your body. That’s why a warm glow matches your light-headedness throughout your organs.

Your body knows that ethanol is not supposed to be there, though, so it takes action. Your liver creates enzymes that break down the ethanol down into molecules. These molecules are known as ethanal (note the slightly different spelling.)

Your brain has a limit of what it considers to be a safe level of ethanol. Once this limit is reached and breached, the brain sends a warning message to the body. The ethanal must be purged, which will occur through vomiting. This is why you sometimes feel queasy amid a drinking session. It’s not fun, but it’s necessary.

So, what’s the cure?

Many people claim to have perfected the art of the hangover cure. For some, it’s a Bloody Mary cocktail – the hair of the dog that bit you. Some people will refuse to entertain anything other than a sizeable, greasy breakfast. Others have their own claims to wellness, often involving bizarre food and drink combinations.

Sadly, none of these supposed cures are scientifically sound. The fact is, there is no such thing as a hangover cure apart from patience. The remnants of the alcohol need to finish flushing themselves out of your system. This takes time.

You can minimize the impact of a hangover by drinking water before bed, though. You will no doubt notice that you need to urinate more when you drink. When sober, your pituitary gland (located at the base of the brain) creates a hormone called vasopressin.

This hormone is an anti-diuretic. In layman’s terms, it stops you from needing to pee every time you consume liquid. Alcohol restricts vasopressin, hence your constant trips to the bathroom. The more you pee, the more fluid you lose from your body. This leaves you dehydrated.

Does that explain the thumping headache?

It certainly does. Dehydration irritates blood vessels, causing them to swell and dilate. Blood flow to your head will become erratic, leading to a skull-splitting headache.

This also explains why your eyes twitch when hungover, and why your muscles ache and you feel reluctant to move. Until you’re appropriately rehydrated, you’ll continue to feel this way. Drinking fluid consistently helps.

You can speed up the process with electrolytes. Avoid Gatorade or energy drinks, though. These might provide temporary respite, but sugar and caffeine are diuretics. You’ll need to urinate more, which sheds yet more fluid from your body.

Like all things, hangovers eventually come to an end. You may start the day swearing never to touch alcohol again, but by the evening, you’re chuckling at the previous night’s escapades and looking forward to doing it all over again.

Just be prepared for your body to undertake the same process when you do. Alcohol consumption will forever remain as intrinsically linked as alcohol and lousy dancing. Nothing in this life is free, especially not a good time.

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What happens in your brain when you disagree with somebody?

Do you struggle to understand opposing viewpoints in an argument?

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What happens in your brain when we disagree with somebody?

Conflict is rarely comfortable, especially in the 21st Century. We’re living in an increasingly binary society, in which nuance is a rare commodity. All too often, especially in online discourse, we grow entrenched in our own viewpoints. I’m right, and you’re wrong – if you disagree, you just don’t get it.

It’s likely that at some point during a heated debate, you’ll lose respect for the views of your debating partner. Maybe that’s because you think they’re not smart enough to understand what you’re saying. Sometimes it’s because we feel like the opposition just isn’t listening to what we have to say. In some cases, it may merely be a matter of refusing to countenance a dissenting opinion.

To investigate this phenomenon, University College London conducted a study – published in the journal Nature Neuroscience – which recorded the brain activity of 21 pairs of volunteers. The results confirmed that the human brain undergoes a range of reactions when we find our beliefs and opinions challenged.

Confirmation bias is a powerful thing

The study focused on something that will always spark strong opinions – the value of real estate.

The volunteers were paired up and showed images of properties. They were asked to assign a financial value to each property. The volunteers were then asked to put their (metaphorical) money where their mouth was. They were expected to wager a theoretical cash sum on the strength of their convictions.

Although the duos were separated by glass, they could each see what value their partner had assigned. Brain activity was monitored throughout the process – most notably the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that focuses on complex decision-making and social behaviors.

As PNAS explains, this part of the brain also reflects the confidence that we feel in a decision-making partner. When the two parties agreed with each other, this was reflected in their brainwaves.

The results showed a form of confirmation bias, with each volunteer buoyed on by the sense of agreement. This led to them growing increasingly bold in their assignments of value.

Agree to disagree? Not likely

When the volunteers disagreed with each other, the brainwaves stopped tracking any kind of confidence. It closed down completely, disregarding the possibility that an opposing viewpoint was worth considering.

While the human brain is more than happy to be told that it’s right – and to accept the dopamine rewards that come with that – it seemingly refuses to countenance the idea that it could be wrong, it’s the cerebral equivalent of pushing fingers in the ears and saying, “la la la.”

To be on the safe side, the moderators of the study quizzed the participants afterward. It was confirmed that they heard, acknowledged, and remembered the opinions of their partner. They just were not prepared to give the viewpoint any weight.

In the mind of an absolutist, the other person was wrong, and thus, their opinion was irrelevant. They may as well have been claiming that the sky is green and grass is blue.

Divide and conquer… actually, just divide

This all contributes to the society that we find ourselves living in. Politics, in particular, are causing seismic divisions among friends, family members, and co-workers. We all believe what we need to believe, tossing aside anything else.

We see this every day in the media. One newspaper or TV outlet will describe a politician’s performance in a debate as considered and calm, and another will claim that the individual was flustered and dodged critical questions.

It’s not just in politics, either. We find ourselves engaged in increasingly fierce debates about sporting performance, pop culture, and even personal identity.

If there’s a conversation to be had, you can bet your bottom dollar that somebody is spoiling to argue about it, especially if you’re bold enough to have an opinion on Twitter.

Learning to listen – and to be heard

If there is one that we can all surely agree on, it’s that constant dissent is exhausting. We’d get a lot more work done if we learned how to have a polite difference of opinion and move on with your lives, rather than go to war and plant a firm, immobile flag every time we disagree.

The study confirmed that the secret to this is starting from a place of common ground. We’re living in the information age, and it’s easy to bomb a debating opponent with facts and figures that support your argument. It’s only ever a Google from your smartphone away.

As we’ve established, though, taking an entrenched, “I’m right, and you’re wrong – here are all the reasons why” approach doesn’t work. The other person will not pay you any mind. Instead, consider starting with, “OK, I agree with you on points A and B. I think point C isn’t quite right, though. Here’s what I think.”

Let’s take the debate about vaccines as an example. Unfounded theories have long abounded that vaccines cause autism. Parties on both sides of this debate are passionate and combative. Have you ever tried tossing scientific papers at a vehement anti-vaxxer on social media in an attempt at changing their minds? It’s about as effective as telling an anteater not to eat ants.

PNAS found another way, however. By starting the debate by pointing out that vaccines protect children from deadly diseases, you can find common ground. This has been shown to boost vaccine uptake by some 33%. That’s a good start, and it’s undoubtedly less draining than a long, drawn-out argument that goes nowhere.

Human beings will always disagree. If we all had the same thoughts, the world would be a pretty dull place. We need to learn how to accept these differences – and embrace them as part of life’s rich tapestry. If we don’t, we’ll continue to exhaust each other with one-sided arguments akin to shouting into a void.

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You may be a bully and not even know it – here’s how to tell

Shut up and give me your lunch money.

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You may be a bully and not even know it – here's how to tell

“Bully” is a strong word. When we hear it, the first thing we think of is children stealing lunch money and doling out swirlies in the school bathroom.

The fact is, though, bullying exists throughout the world. In fact, even the President has been accused of displaying typical bullying behaviors.

Part of the problem with bullying is that, once we reach the adult world, there is no hard and fast definition of the term. How can we tell if we are a bully – or indeed, if we’re being bullied?

Addressing bullying myths

To assess whether or not we could be considered a bully, certain stereotypes must be cast aside. We touched upon the trope of the high school jock earlier, but that isn’t always accurate.

Bullies are not necessarily intellectually limited, perpetually angry buffoons that cannot process emotion through cognitive thought. As explained by The British Journal of Developmental Psychology, many bullies demonstrate high IQ and social awareness.

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We’re not saying that this means bullies are friendly people that are just misunderstood. Smart people are as capable of being douchebags as stupid people. It just means that bullies come in many forms – including with a smile.

There appears to be true in the old cliché that all bullies are cowards at heart, though. Bullies use their intelligence to pick out a perceived easy target, much like a lion carefully identifies the slowest gazelle in the herd to hunt. As explained in The Romanian Journal of Developmental Psychology, bullies like to target victims with low self-esteem. This makes them less likely to retaliate and gives the bully a sense of power. This, in turn, boosts the bully’s sense of self.

Think of bullies as confidence vampires. The more self-assurance they can suck from a victim, the more poise and composure they appear to enjoy for themselves. This eventually leaves a bully with an ego the size of a planet – and that can be tricky to maintain.

Bullies will maintain consistent tactics to retain this sense of self-satisfaction. As the journal Trauma, Violence, and Abuse confirms, this means that most bullies lack any traditional sense of empathy. To a bully, their victim is not a human being with hopes, dreams, fears, and feelings. They are just a tool to be utilized to achieve the bully’s own goals.

Get to the point nerd, or I’ll give you a wedgie. Am I a bully or not?

It’s tempting to say that if that you’re worried about whether you’re a bully, you’re probably not one. As discussed, bullies lack empathy. If you take a moment to stop and consider the consequences that your actions may have on others, you have at least some level of conscience.

If you’re anxious, take an online empathy test. Such tools are not fail-safe and are no substitute for a professional psychiatric evaluation. Let’s take this one step at a time, though. There are certainly a handful of behaviors and attitudes that point toward bullying tendencies. These include:

  • Regularly upsetting the people around you, and not understanding how or why – and not particularly caring, one way or the other.
  • You are using a position of power or influence to influence somebody else’s life for personal reasons negatively.
  • Excessive aggression toward others – including passive-aggression. If you display this aggression in public intending to humiliate somebody, it’s a real red flag.
  • You are poking fun at others, especially if you know that you’re pushing buttons attached to a particular sore point. The “I was only kidding!” defense only goes so far.
  • You are gleefully sharing unfounded, potentially damaging gossip, and rumors about other people. Bonus points if you get your rocks off on starting these rumors.
  • You are feeling like everybody is just too sensitive and needs to toughen up a bit, considering it your responsibility to ‘harden up’ your friends, family, or co-workers.
  • Justifying bad behavior if it helps you get what you want, even if you cause damage along the way.

These warning signs could apply to any situation in your personal or professional life. It’s at work, however, that these concerns come to the fore.

Workplace bullying

Bullying in the workplace is an increasing problem. A survey from the Workplace Bullying Institute found that almost 20% of Americans considered themselves to have been bullied – and that’s just the people that were willing to come forward.

Many more may feel this way but are afraid to verbalize their concerns through fear of career repercussions. Anglia Ruskin University ran a study that confirmed that schoolchildren face a common dilemma about whether their treatment merited ‘snitching’ on a bully. Adults face the same dilemma, arguably with even greater stakes. Is reporting inappropriate behavior to HR worth risking your job over?

In a high-stress working environment, a manager may bawl out staff on occasion. In the eyes of the manager, they’re just attempting to motivate their team to be the best versions of themselves possible. To the person being shouted at, however, it’s likely to feel like a calculated, personal attack.

We also need to assess the different environments of the workplace and societal attitudes toward the power dynamics within them. A dentist yelling at their hygienist would be considered more horrifying by most than a stockbroker tearing strips off a junior counterpart. This, in turn, is seen as very different from a restaurant manager screaming in the face of waiting staff. None of this is acceptable behavior toward a fellow human being trying to do their job, though.

Bullying can scar people for life. If you have any doubt at all whether you’re a bully, it’s advisable to think about moderating your behavior. Justifying your actions as ‘tough love’ or ‘getting results’ doesn’t fly in the modern world. Even if you think everybody is just too sensitive these days, that’s your cross to bear. Like it or not, it’s the bullies of the world that need to change – not their victims.

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People with depression use language differently

A new study finds that a person’s use of language could reveal if they are struggling.

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People with depression use language differently

To the uninitiated, depression in others can be challenging to spot. If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with the condition, you’ll be acutely aware of its impact.

Everything about a person is influenced by depression, but that’s not always clear the outside world. How many times have you heard somebody say, “so-and-so can’t be depressed? I saw them the other day, and they were laughing and joking!”

This leads to many people hiding their mental health ailments. Sadly, there remains a stigma surrounding depression in certain cultures. People will not reveal their struggles for fear of being seen as weak, or due to the lack of understanding outlined above.

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Now it seems, a new method of identifying depression in loved ones has been uncovered. The University of Reading ran a study, published in Clinical Psychological Science, surrounding the language of depression. It appears that people living with complicated emotional issues – such as depression and anxiety – are prone to use particular words.

It’s all about absolutism

The study unveiled subtle shifts in language between those with depression and those without. The core takeaway was the use of absolutist terms. It seems that these are a better indication of underlying depression than words that denote negative emotion.

Now, this doesn’t mean that negative language should be ignored or disregarded. It just means that we should read between the lines wherever possible.

Take a conversation with a friend, for example. If you were to ask somebody if they had plans for the weekend, their response could be telling. A depressed person may respond with, “No, I never have plans.” Somebody feeling a little brighter may use language like, “no, I try not to make plans.”

Likewise, you will be able to gauge a sense of somebody’s mentality by their response to a minor accident or mishap. If somebody stubs their toe or drops a glass, listen out for their reaction.

“Oh dear, I am such a klutz, I am so sorry!” sounds as though the person is beating themselves up over their mistake. However, this language is potentially less concerning than, “I always do stuff like this, sorry.”

See for yourself

This theory was put to the test by observing the use of language online. It’s no secret that the internet can be a pretty binary place, and people tend to use extremist language in an attempt to be heard over the roar of the crowd. All the same, the results were impressive.

The study compared the use of absolutist language across a range of popular online discussion platforms and forums. Part of the sample group were sites like StudentRoom and Mumsnet, which attract a vast cross-section of users and contributors every day. Besides, forums and groups dedicated to depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts were also surveyed.

It was discovered that absolutist terms were around 50% more common in discussions dedicated to depression and anxiety. On the forums devoted to those with suicidal tendencies, this rose to 80%. Again, let us stress – this is the internet. People may speak a way that they would never consider in public life. All the same, the results are telling, and a little chilling.

We could also use examples of people from the public eye. Here is a short excerpt from The Bell Jar, the novel written by celebrated poet Sylvia Plath. Plath famously struggled with depression throughout her life before committing suicide at the age of just 30.

“I thought that if I EVER did get to Chicago, I might change my name to Elly Higginbotham FOR GOOD. Then NOBODY would know I had THROWN UP a PERFECTLY GOOD scholarship at a BIG eastern women’s college and MUCKED UP a month in New York and REFUSED a PERFECTLY SOLID medical student for a husband who would one day be a member of the AMA and EARN POTS OF MONEY.”

(emphasis is our own, not that of the author)

Yes, this is a work of fiction, but it’s semi-autobiographical. Just in that short passage, you’ll see a lot of absolutist terms. Also, the fact that Plath chose to write in a first-person narrative could be telling.

There is an I in depression

Another indicator of depression in language appears to be the use of singular pronouns in everyday speech. This is discussed at length in a paper published in Cognition and Emotion.

Somebody living with depression will feel alienated from society at large. This means that the individual will address themselves in precisely that way – as an individual. Depressed people are far more likely to use the “I” pronoun than “we.”

Let’s refer back to our example of conversing with a friend. If this friend played on a college football team, and the scoreline of their latest game was unflattering, you could tell a lot about an individual’s mindset by their reaction.

A depressed person may say, “I was terrible in that game. I missed a field goal and dropped a catch.” Somebody else may be keener to share the burden, explaining that, “we were terrible tonight. We have to do better next time, or we’re in trouble.”

Now, in times of duress, it’s always tempting to experience a long, dark night of the soul. A moment of reflection doesn’t necessarily mean that somebody is battling a constant black cloud of depression.

If this language use is consistent, however, it’s worth noting. Somebody that consistently shuns plural pronouns is likely undergoing a private and introspective battle.

If this article has struck a chord with you – whether related to your use of language or that of somebody close to you – remember that support is out there. Consider reaching out to a group such as Samaritans USA. Depression can be a devastating experience, and nobody should be forced to go through it alone.

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What intermittent fasting diet plan is the best?

If you’re considering intermittent fasting as a diet plan, there are plenty of varying approaches.

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What intermittent fasting diet plan is the best?

There are only three things that are certain in this world. Death, taxes, and the popularity of fad diets. We are constantly bombarded with promises that X or Y diet is a fast track to losing weight and feeling fantastic.

Oftentimes, fad diets must be approached with caution. Nutritionists and healthcare professionals hate them, concerned that such eating plans create unsustainable and dangerous habits and expectations. Of course, there is also the risk of falling off the wagon in spectacular fashion after a while.

One dietary choice that has retained popularity, however, is intermittent fasting. Many people have boasted excellent results from following such a diet. Naturally, success breeds saturation. There are now countless different types of intermittent fasting eating plans, each of them boasting their own advocates.

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If you’re planning on taking up intermittent fasting, read on. We’ll discuss the three most popular approaches, and reveal which is the best solution to seek for your needs.

The 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet is the brainchild of Dr. Michael Mosley, a British journalist and TV presenter. If that sets alarming bells clanging, it would be noted that Dr. Mosley has no formal training in medical health. His honorific comes courtesy of a background in psychiatry.

The idea behind the 5:2 diet is simple. You would choose two days of seven, and during these days, limit yourself to 500 calories. The other five days, you can eat normally, provided you do not exceed your daily calorie allowance.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirms that followers of the 5:2 diet can enjoy weight loss. There are other benefits, too, including a reduction of cholesterol and blood glucose. This makes the diet a good idea for anybody diagnosed as pre-diabetic. The British Journal of Nutrition explains how fasting on concurrent days removes fat from the blood.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of the 5:2 diet is that you can still eat on fasting days. This will not just help with hunger pangs. It also protects the muscles in the body. You’ll need to focus on lean, low-calorie protein foods during fasting days.

Like all fad diets, the 5:2 is not without critics. It’s advisable to seek medical advice before embarking upon such an eating regime. If you’re looking to shed weight and keep it off, however, it’s a potentially sustainable way to do so.

Fasting on Alternate Days

Alternate day fasting, or ADF, is a more extreme version of the 5:2 diet. Think of it as the 4:3 diet if that helps.

Essentially, ADF involves eating as much as you’d like on Monday, then fasting on Tuesday. You’ll be permitted up to 500 calories, as with the 5:2. When Wednesday rolls around, you can feast again – provided you get back to your fast on Thursday. You get the picture.

ADF is believed to promote fast weight loss, so it’s worth considering if you’re trying to drop weight for a holiday or a special occasion. Nutrition Journal claims that AFD can see substantial results in around twelve weeks.

It’s also arguably what our bodies are made for. Our Neanderthal ancestors would eat their fill whenever possible, unsure when the opportunity would arise to eat again.

The biggest problem with ADF is its sustainability. Sooner or later, it’s likely that the calorie intake on fasting days will start to creep up. This can minimize the calorie restriction. In fact, if you continue to eat with abandon on non-fasting days, you may even consume more calories than you usually would.

Time Restricted Fasting

Finally, we have time-restricted fasting. This involves consuming all of a day’s calories in a single eight-hour window. This allows for sixteen hours of fasting every day. The time that you eat is referred to as a feeding window.

This sounds easy on paper. It may be tempting to skip breakfast and maybe even lunch and save all food intake for an evening meal. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise confirms that this will certainly lead to a smaller calorie intake. Unfortunately, you’ll also burn fewer calories through exercise if you skip breakfast.

Scientific research into time restricted fasting is comparatively limited compared to the 5:2 diet and ADF. However, Nutrition Research Reviews does suggest that a morning feeding window can be impactful. The body processed blood sugar and glucose better at this time of day.

Pre-diabetics, in particular, should consider time restricted fasting by eating in the morning and fasting at night. As a weight loss tool for anybody else, however? There is little to suggest that time restricted fasting is a fast-track to dropping a jeans size. One exception to this will be the appeal of cutting out food completely, rather than merely minimizing intake. If you have an ‘all-or-nothing’ persona, this diet may be more comfortable.

So, which fasting diet is best?

“Best” is a subjective term. It really depends on what you are trying to achieve with your fasting diet.

Alternate day fasting will typically get the fastest results, but the 5:2 diet is usually more sustainable in the longer term. Alternatively, if you prefer to skip food completely rather than just restrict it, consider a window feeding approach.

Ultimately, as confirmed by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, intermittent fasting is no more effective than basic, calorie-controlled dieting. If you prefer not to restrict your options, however, this eating plan could work for you. Just choose wisely and ensure that you’re eating safely.

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In the midst of a childhood obesity crisis, why are school lunches so unhealthy?

Are school lunches really that bad? In a word, yes.

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In the midst of a childhood obesity crisis, why are school lunches so unhealthy?

School meals have long been the subject of jokes and ridicule. Derided as bland and tasteless, the bigger issue comes from the deficiency of nutrition found within. The journal Pediatric Obesity claims that over 90million school-age children are medically obese throughout the world.

Attempts have been made the reverse this trend and to encourage better, healthier eating habits in Britain’s young people. In the UK, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver famously launched a campaign to eradicate poor-quality processed foods from the school canteen diet. The issue remains, however, with many experts fearing that the trajectory will continue until the obesity crisis deepens.

Are school lunches really that bad?

In a word, yes. The meals served in schools are often derided as being high in fat and sugar, served in portions far too large for children. It seems that decision-makers have focused more on what children will eat without complaint than what is actually good for growing bodies and brains.

Let’s stick with our example of the UK. The World Bank claims that some 2million British citizens are undernourished. For a vulnerable child, a school lunch may be the only opportunity they have to eat all day. There is a duty to care to ensure that this meal is nutritious. Given the importance of diet to growing bodies, serving junk food is widely regarded as unacceptable.

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Lip service has been paid to taking action against this. An independent school food plan was drawn up as part of the UK government’s supposed drive against childhood obesity. While it is a legal mandate for schools to follow this plan, it has not been reviewed or updated since 2013. Significant discoveries and breakthroughs in food and nutrition have been made since then. Why is this not being reflected in school meals?

Is it really the school system that’s to blame?

It’s perhaps unfair to place the entire blame at the feet of schools. After all, we are all responsible for our own decisions in life. When it comes to children, however, it’s unrealistic to expect those choices to be made with long-term benefits in mind.

Peer pressure is a powerful thing for young people, especially teenagers. Veganism and similar dietary choices may be on the rise, but eating healthy is not deemed ‘cool’ by many teenagers and adolescents.

Besides, we need to consider the fact that many young people prefer to avoid the school cafeteria at all. We all remember our own school days. Social time is precious and seemingly fleeting. With just an hour of respite from classes, many young people would prefer not to waste time waiting in line for a meal.

Returning to England once more, the Cambridge Journal of Education surveyed a busy school cafeteria. It found that the focus of the room was less on nutrition, and more on social interactions. In essence, the cafeteria is home to teachers, social cliques, and potential bullies – precisely the kind of people that many schoolchildren will be keen to avoid over lunch.

This encourages children to seek other forms of nourishment, which rarely leads to a balanced diet. The siren song of fast food and processed snacks with be deafening to most teenagers.

We need to work together

Children will rarely choose to eat healthy foods by themselves. This means that we all have a duty – as parents, educators, and society at large – to instill positive eating habits into our young people. The Journal of Public Health explains that food habits we develop while young are often carried into adulthood.

Leading by example, can play a major role in this. If we eat well as parents, our children are more likely to follow suit. This will take perseverance and patience, but it will pay off in the longer term.

This does not mean that schools can wash their hands of responsibility, however. While children attend an educational establishment, many decisions are taken out of their hands. What to eat is an example of this.

Streamlining a menu may sound counterproductive, but ultimately, hungry children will eat what is presented to them. Removing the choice of processed junk food and replacing it with healthier alternatives can be crucial. Schools can also place further emphasis on education surrounding food and nutrition. Naturally, these lessons should be continued at home.

Just as Rome was not built in a day, the global childhood obesity crisis will not be resolved overnight. Small steps can lead to giant strides, though. If we all start to take this problem a little more seriously, future generations will be spared the health difficulties associated with obesity. Who knows – maybe school lunches will taste a bit better too.

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