Herald Journal Columns
September 10, 2007 Herald Journal

Killing ourselves from the inside out

By LYNDA JENSEN

Something that our family has been struggling with is a good diet, with a massive effort underway to cut back on sugary, processed junk.

My opinion is that anything preserved or processed is probably not very good for you, even if it started out as a healthy item first.

It’s OK to eat a few things this way, but if your entire diet is being cooked in a microwave, then I think you should really consider what you’re eating.

It’s a source of complete amazement to me that modern doctors don’t pay more attention to diet overall in relation to maladies, because it seems to me that your diet is the single most important component of your health.

Years ago, one of the first things I did was fill the fridge with chilled, bottled water so that it was conveniently there when someone was looking for something. Then I refill the bottles after washing the caps.

Water is a “detoxifier” according to Chiropractor Jennifer Butturff of Howard Lake, and I do think this is true. It purges and cleanses your system.

It took me at least a year to train our family in the water-drinking habit (yes, that long). But after it was a force of habit, we haven’t looked back. The rule is that soda pop is a treat and kids aren’t supposed to have more than one a day (and less than this is better).

As a working mother, I’ve been cooking at night with as many “real” things as possible – potatoes, rice, etc, etc.

For example, have you ever looked at the ingredients listed on a box of instant mashed potatoes? There’s 20 ingredients and most of it is something you can’t pronounce. What’s inside a potato? Something healthy and real.

Fill up the fridge with cut up fresh fruit that is easy to grab. Throw some items into baggies so that they are suitable for lunches.

Then stop buying the instant junk so that fresh fruit, attractive leftovers and other acceptable items are available in the fridge.

The hardest part will be reshaping your kids’ ideas about food. Isn’t that silly? But you have to keep prodding them to eat good things and think about what they are eating. Did they eat their fruit today? Make them.

You really need to reshape their thinking about food in general.

It will take a concerted effort between you and your spouse to pull this off. Corner your kids into eating fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Tell them they can’t have Kool Aid or pop until they drink their milk.

Start now, with an inventory of your fridge.

The stimulus-response conditioning of very realistic video games nowadays

Let’s switch from a healthy diet to a healthy mind and talk about modern video games (not the ones that you and I remember from even 10 years ago – I’m talking about here and now).

I would like readers to examine some disturbing information that my husband received as part of recent law enforcement training (he’s a cop).

The following is an excerpt from research done by Lt. Col. David Grossman, a former Army Ranger and psychologist. His work was the focus of the police training.

Read on . . .

Violent video games and automatic pilot

By Lt. Col. David Grossman

“Small habits well pursued betimesMay reach the dignity of crimes.”

- Hannah More, Florio

“Violent video games have been in existence for several decades now, and many kids who played them years ago are now in their mid- to upper- teens and even into their 20s – the exact age group of the average perpetrator our law enforcement officers are confronting every day out on the streets.

For a moment, think in terms of reflexes and repetition. How do you make killing a conditioned reflex? It’s simple – the game is a steady repeat of stimulus-response, stimulus-response, stimulus-response.

“Does a kid playing a violent video game shoot at blank, man-shaped silhouettes? How about bulls-eye targets? No, he shoots at people – that is, vivid, realistic depictions of people. The holy grail of the video game industry is realism, and every year they get ever more realistic.

“The incredibly lifelike characters bleed, twitch, sweat, beg, fall, and die, all before the eyes of the very impressionable young players.

“Today’s video games offer a completely different type of play than my generation engaged in as kids.

“When I was little and playing cops and robbers, I said, “Bang, bang, I got you, Jimmy.” Jimmy said, “No you didn’t.” So I said, “Well, bang, bang. Now I got you.”

“Again he argued that I didn’t. So, I smacked him with my cap gun, and after he went crying to his mother I got in big trouble.

“Along the way I learned one of life’s important lessons, a lesson that usually had to be taught over and over again: Jimmy is real, Sally is real, and Fido is real, and if I hurt them, I’m going to get into big trouble.

“For thousands of years kids have whacked each other with wooden swords, or played “Bang, bang, I got you.” This was healthy play because as soon as someone got hurt the play stopped, and all the kids gathered around and tried to convince him not to tell momma.

“Today, kids are immersed in a virtual reality environment where they repeatedly blow their virtual, hyper-realistic, playmates’ heads off in explosions of blood and gore. Do they get into trouble? No. They get awarded points! This is pathological and dysfunctional play.”

Grossman goes on to cite a joint statement released in July 2000 by the American Medical Association, American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – ALL of our doctors, ALL of our pediatricians, ALL of our psychologists, and ALL of our child psychiatrists – which reads “Preliminary studies indicate that the negative impact of interactive electronic media [violent video games] may be significantly more severe than that wrought by television, movies or music,” Further, a later study reinforced this point by saying that:

• children who are least aggressive in nature, but are exposed to violent video games, are more likely to get into fights than children who are very aggressive, but do not play violent video games.

The study found that children who play violent video games:

• See the world as a more hostile place.

• Argue with teachers more frequently.

• Are more likely to be involved in physical fights.

• Don’t perform as well in school.

For the full text of Grossman’s research, go online to www.killology.com. Or call the newspaper and ask Lynda Jensen to send you a copy in the mail.

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