All Health's Breaking Loose: Real food and fitness for teens

Born in the early- to mid-’90s, present on this planet for a decade plus a few years, are our teenagers. As adults, it’s hard to get our heads around how different the world is now than it was back in the day.

I walked to and from school. Not the proverbial “10 miles in 6 feet of snow,” but I walked. There, and anywhere else I needed to go. My homework took about 10 minutes, after which it was game on — I headed outside as fast as my feet would carry me. And we stayed outside running around until we were exhausted. About then my mom would call us in for a meal. She cooked every night of the week. Yeah, it was different.

That’s not to say it was better, but it was different. I spent zero minutes per day texting, social networking, Web surfing or watching movies. And just as I am delighted and amazed at the natural ability this generation has to speak the language of technology, I am hopeful that somewhere along the way, technology will provide them the valuable lessons about what real food is, and they will have the chance to feel the freedom of running around in their back yards just because it feels good to breathe fresh air and be silly. I want them to know that “real food” doesn’t come from a sliding window; it isn’t handed to you in a bag.

Real food will pass what I call the “If God made it” test.” If God made it, it’s real food. If he didn’t make it, it’s not. I want our teens to know how good a tangerine picked from the tree in their back yard tastes on a hot summer day. I want them to plant a seed and have the chance to care for it until it yields fruit. I want them to enjoy walking and running and have the energy to get up and go.

The YMCA surveyed more than 1,600 American parents and the results showed that the reason many children spend so little time playing outdoors is because it’s more convenient for parents if kids are plopped down in front of a TV or computer.

Dr. Matt Longjohn, the YMCA’s US director of Chronic Disease Prevention says, “There are many small things that make it very difficult for families to get an hour of physical activity a day, among the factors you could blame are technology, time and money.” Read more about the survey here:

Chronic sitting weakens the spine, causing the shoulders to roll forward. The small muscles that run on each side of the vertebrae and up the spine are stabilizers. Without use, they soften and can no longer hold the spine upright. What was once a straight, lean torso becomes a hunched over turtle-back with a protruding tummy — even on a teenager.

In fact, teens are more at risk for suffering with back pain, bad posture, and “poochy” bellies than those of us who walked 10 miles in 6 feet of snow — in other words, adults.

As parents, it’s our job to present opportunities for our children not only have the chance to be involved in movement and activity they enjoy, but also to see us, ourselves, being active. Movement is where you find it: walking the dog, hiking, playing catch or riding a skateboard.

If we feel connected to real food ourselves, it’s much easier to share what we know. Offering a fresh in-season peach or apple and making a sandwich takes less time than getting in the car and driving for fast food. It just needs to get prioritized. As parents, we can help our children think outside the box. Sometimes that brings us back to basics. Not all the way back to walking miles in the snow, but remembering what’s real.

I’ll see you in two weeks.

Love and health,


LOA BLASUCCI is now offering a Wellness Camp for teens. For more information visit

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