Each of us has a story. Contemplate that sentence once again. Each of us has a story.
Let's start with reflection. Think back to your own childhood. How did the family members in your life model eating? What memories of food did you experience, both positive and negative? What is your story with food and health then and how does it compare to your habits now? As you contemplate these questions, think about how your answers might be vastly different if you grew up in a different cultural context, socioeconomic status, etc.
Questions regarding food habits and health should not stop at a surface level, however. Just as important are questions related to our history of adverse childhood experiences. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris does an excellent job in her TED talk describing How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime. She notes that adverse childhood experiences encompass a range of exposures (e.g., observation of alcohol abuse, living with an individual with a mental health disorder, personally encountering verbal abuse/physical abuse, etc.). Why might trauma in childhood matter? According to Dr. Steven Sumner, a medical epidemiologist at CDC's Division of Violence Prevention, the toxic stress brought on by childhood trauma leads to changes in a child's developing body, which can affect growing organs, such as the brain and other systems.
Childhood trauma happens more often than you would believe and yet not enough is being done to address it. According to NPR, a recent survey from the CDC shows that sexual violence against children is a global problem. More than 1 in 4 girls and more than 1 in 10 boys (ages 13 to 24) in most countries reported experiencing sexual violence. Despite the numbers, the report noted that few individuals were receiving help, with less than 10% of victims receiving services in most countries surveyed.
These are the darker topics related to health that are not often discussed publically, yet they have huge implications on our overall well being and the choices we make with our health in our day to day lives. We need to address adverse childhood experiences in a manner that allows all individuals to heal and ultimately live healthier lives. Herein lies the challenge. Let's create some ideas.