Monday, December 14, 2015

Conformity in Food

Displaying IMG_7239.JPGMy Mom wrote on my blog a couple weeks ago about yoga and how it has transformed her life. When my mother started her new job, she started using yoga as a way of relaxing and escaping from the stress of her four children. Soon, she became immersed in the yogi-culture.

Over the past two years, my mom took her granola way of life to a new extreme. She stopped eating a lot of meat and started consuming only non-processed, organic, non GMO foods. Everyday for breakfast, she utilizes her shiny new Nutribullet to make herself a smoothie made of hemp seeds, chia seeds and frozen fruit. Then she will make another smoothie for her lunch. This time a green smoothie concocted of kale, spinach, bananas and who knows what else. She's also invested in coconut oil: a substitute for the fat-rich canola oil. Coconut oil significantly reduces the unhealthiness of chocolate chip cookies and other desert options. They are interchangeable except for a slight distinction in taste. For dinner consists of mainly a spinach kale salad, or a different vegetable option, and small piece of meat.

My mother says her new way of life is based on research indicating plant based diets reduced the rate of developing cancer (read more about it here). However, I believe the motivation for the change in diet initially came from her place of occupation. All of her yoga friends always talk about their new 'diet fad' and how amazing switching over to the 'green side' has been. My mother took their persuasions of the granola people to heart, did a a couple days of research, and began conforming her life to the new information. She bought new cook books and began making quinoa. As a result, her whole family has started eating healthier. The word 'conformity' is usually associated with losing individuality and carries a negative connotation. However, as my mother conformed to the healthy lifestyle of her friends, she started feeling better physically and emotionally. She now believes she's on the right track with her food decisions and if she "had know better would've never fed you the same junk back when you were little."

My mom has twice taken her plant based diet to extremes. It's called her "Ten day cleanse". She coerces my dad into joined her and together they go vegan and gluten free. They are on strict diet with every calorie  mapped out each day. They are attempting to 'rid themselves of toxins' and loose weight.  Only allowed to eat beans, fruits and vegetables, my parents are cranky for ten days. My dad, whose an avid runner, went hungry between every carefully planned meal. My mom relished the challenge and felt proud of her new food accomplishments. This extreme form of conforming to new fads and trends frightened me because I thought I would be the next victim to coerced into the ten day cleanse. My mom loved the extremism and drastic change from her daily life. There cleanse is also an example of nonconformism because both my parents steered far from a 'normal healthiness person's diet' of chicken, salad, and fruit.

Every person has a different relationship with food. Some see it as an outlet for their feelings. Other's see it as the devil and leads to their destruction. My parent's viewed their new diet as a way of bettering themselves. No matter where the initial motivation came from, our whole's families diet has changed for the better even if my mom sometimes takes it too far.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

What is the Point of Finals?

With finals week just on the horizon, emotional breakdowns are increasing, sleep is decreasing, and stress is skyrocketing. As we prepare for the seemingly important tests, we have to ask ourselves: what is the point of this terror.

Some might say finals measures growth and learning. However, isn't that what teachers and the administrators were supposed to be measuring all semester? We hardly ever receive our finals back and get to review our mistakes. Their is no room for growth after the final.

Finals promote a culture of learning for the grade. The pressure of high school finals causes students to only study for the grade in order to get into their dream college. Finals create a short term memory bank for students that is cashed in on the test and then forgotten. Relearning the material just to forget it again seems quite pointless.

High school finals are unnecessary and help no one. For teachers, they have to write a massive test and spend hours on hours grading. Meanwhile, Students must forget about health, family members, and their lives for one to two weeks. And in the end no one wins.

If Students are taking finals with low Cs and Ds, finals probably won't help them enough to make an impact, even if they do, should they be receiving the higher grade if it stayed consistently low over the semester? Students with high performing standards who have studied long and hard all semester and then their grade drops dramatically from the final. What does this teach them? They are left with a grade that is not a reflection of their long term effort.

I understand reviewing hard material and attempting to understand it is a key process in learning. However, learning is gradual and is done over a long time. In a real life situation, no one will ever ask you to sit down and take an accumulative test to measure your knowledge. There are alternatives to finals- take home projects and test that also measure the knowledge and force students to review the materials. Memorization is not learning. Final exams cause unnecessary stress for all parties involved.