Town Square

Ban Eating, like Banning Smoking

Original post made by Trying Hard, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jan 12, 2008

As a basketball parent, I have been in many local gyms recently, watching basketball games. In all the gyms, there are signs saying no food, no drinks, but they are blatantly ignored. From parents giving cheerios to toddlers, to adults bringing Starbucks or dinner on the go, to kids eating candy, there is a lot of eating going on.

Now, this has set me thinking. We have a problem of obesity and it appears that for the length of a basketball game, we can't stop eating.

We have working breakfasts, working lunches, late night working pizza nights, snacks for sports, cakes for birthdays, doughnuts for meetings, treats for star of the week. It seems that no matter what we do, food is involved. We don't seem to be able to watch a sport, watch a movie, get into our car, without food or snacks in abundance.

We must change our attitudes and realise that food is not a status symbol, but a quiet daily necessity. Let's bring back meal times and eat. Let's have no meetings at meal times, and I don't just mean business meetings. Let's ban food from places the same way we ban smoking. Let's not have food at our desks, in our cars, in front of our tvs (and ban tvs from our dining rooms).

Food has become a problem. It is everywhere in abundance and is becoming a huge problem for us all. If you don't do it for yourself, do it for the next generation.


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2008 at 3:52 pm

The way to eliminate team snacks is to eliminate team mothers. As a long time soccer coach, I simply gave up on trying to make the team moms understand that they are hurting their kids by always rewarding them with snacks after practice and games. The problem, I think, is that women see food as emotional nourishment; the dads were never a problem, in fact thay thought it was completely unnecessay. The moms always won the argument.

When I was a youth soccer player, my mom was too busy at home to even attend most games or any practices. That simple fact probably saved me from a life of obesity.

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Posted by Sports Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2008 at 4:00 pm

As the mother of kids who need exercise more than they need food, I can see the after game snacks from both perspectives. I have one in basketball at present where there are no snacks by agreement. The kids leave the game after the coach has dismissed them, and there is no comeraderie and the team is just a group of boys. On the other hand, I have seen teams of kids sitting down together munching their snack and getting to know each other apart from the sport. Friendships are definitely made in these 15 minute sessions and teams become team mates.

I have seen something similar happen when one coach gave out baseball cards to players at the end of practices. The boys open their cards, trade, joke, and the win/lost game is quickly forgotten.

So it isn't just the food that is needed at the end of the games, but more the friendship. Maybe, as suggested, we can get away from all the snacks and replace them with something else. Baseball cards maybe a possibility, but the time spent is what is valuable.

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 12, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Interesting. If one travels, one finds that most of the people in other cultures are not compulsively munching at sporting or other entertainment events.

That said, the very pace of American life mitigates against the requirements you suggest. Americans will be slowing down, and gaining perspective, as American hegemony is beginning to wane.

Soon, within 3-4 generations, we will begin to gain more perspective about life, realize that we should "work to live", instead of "live to work". This will be a slow change, but it will happen.

Obesity, stress, compulsive aggregation of material goods, etc. - all these are symptoms of a people obsessed with material gain at any cost - a cost that is no longer sustainable.

Old habits die hard...

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Posted by overweight
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2008 at 3:07 pm

I try my best to exercise and eat healthy. I do fine when I am at home or when I eat out. It is when I go somewhere and there are plates of tempting goodies that I find it hardest. I would love to be able to go to a church, school, work event and find that there were no temptations. I am sure I am not alone.

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Posted by Lets try to stop
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 14, 2008 at 11:22 am

I agree. The presence of food at every meeting or event is out of control. Even though I don't want to partake, it is hard to resist. Almost everyone is watching their weight but the sweets and fats sabotage us. We are teaching children that nothing happens without food, and it is mostly junk food.
It is a style that can be changed if we try. So let's try.

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Posted by exercise a little
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2008 at 1:14 pm

Before you get on my case for what I'm about to say, let me make clear that I agree that food isn't necessary at the majority of these events, and that the bulk of the food offered is usually junk.

Try filling up with healthy food before you go to these events. Then you can safely teach your children that even though there's junk food around you, it's possible to say 'no thanks' or 'just one, please'.

The people who are advocating for 'no food' seem to be the same ones who have a problem with self-control and saying 'no'. It's unreasonable to expect those around you to provide the control for you by eliminating food in your presence.

We each have little or no control over the actions of others, and therefore whether food will be present. But we have complete control over whether we choose to eat it. Do what you can to make exercising that control within your power. Don't shift ownership of your self-control onto others.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 16, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Regardless of whether my kids eat a healthy meal at home, they will still find room for the snacks provided at other places. I know that my home is the unpopular place for playdates because I don't offer snacks other than fruit. I hope that those who organise scouts and brownies, dances, and other regular activities could put a stop to the snacks. Everyone seems to want to outdo each other when it is their turn and it is so easy to get a big selection of something unhealthy from Costco.

Adults may or may not be able to offer self control and parents can help young kids when they are present, but too often as the kids get older there is just too much food and too much temptation.