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kids and nutrition talk #4, “frosting nutriency…”

Posted by on Feb 9, 2012 in Blog Posts | 19 comments

I think all the talk at kids about nutrition is not only wasted hot air, but also harmful. They don’t get it… Case in point, kids  and nutrition talk #4… (I think it’s #4, I wasn’t planning on a series.)

Yesterday, on our way to Woulette’s bakery for our after school snack, I asked M if she preferred the cupcakes at Woulettes or Cupcake Cafe. She said, “The ones at Woulettes’ have more nutriency in the frosting. I like it better there.” (I love how kids co-opt the language we throw at them, I do not love that she is hearing all those crappy words at school, ‘cus she darn sure isn’t hearing them at home.)

It gets tiresome feeling like you are trying to undo brainwashing…

Read my classic post about Cheetos, Subway and nutrition talk. It was probably kids and nutrition talk #1, when the kid was harassed to have to choose a “healthy, baked chip” and then begged for a chocolate chip cookie with this: “Mom, look, they’re healthy, they’re baked!”

This hyper-focus on “healthy” eating have real negative consequences if you have a child who may be prone to anxiety, or looking for a fight. I recently talked with a mom who’s son was refusing to eat anything not organic because they were “full of pesticides.” And really, does it help any young child? Please write in, if you think it does!

So, I post because “nutriency” in a delicious, butter-cream frosting is cute, but truly, it’s sad to watch the outside world creeping in on her wonderful, care-free feelings about food.

What are your kids picking up in their pseudo-nutrition classes??

AND! Coming Valentine’s Day, the switch will be official to The Feeding Doctor! Stay tuned, and like me now on FB so I don’t lose and of you or feel so lonely!

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  1. GIna

    Just a funny reply to the above posts about looking over your shoulders or in grocery carts. We ran into our pediatrician (who we LOVE) at the grocery store one day. He winked and said, “I won’t look in your cart, if you don’t look in mine.” I thought it was a classy way for him to handle any worries I might have had that he would “spy” on the food I was buying. (Side note, we were in the cereal aisle & I had JUST told the boys they could pick one box of pop-tarts IF they could agree on a flavor. Good grief! :-)Not sure if the good Dr. heard that one or not! LOL!)

  2. Katie

    While I don’t think we should talk with our children about weight or dieting I DO think kids need to know about nutrition. Maybe 100 years ago when there wasn’t so much junk around this wouldn’t be necessary. But, today, in this kind of food environment? You really want your kids to think they should just eat what tastes yummy and that ALL foods are healthy in some way? That’s absurd. There are more foods out there that are completely devoid of nutrition and detrimental to health than there are healthy foods. Just because a food will sustain life and not make you immediately ill does NOT mean it is healthy in some way. Kids are smart enough to learn this and doesn’t mean they’re going to spiral out of control and start feeling guilty or restricting food or overconsuming the “bad” foods. They can handle this information and not lose their little minds as long as it’s presented in the right way. But, it needs to be taught (by parents preferably). I teach my little girls that some foods are healthy and make them strong and smart and these are the foods that we eat most of the time. I also tell them which foods are not very healthy and are only “sometimes foods”. I tell them that if they ate those foods too much they wouldn’t feel very good but it’s okay to eat them sometimes(They are 4 so this is age appropriate and not too in depth). And you know what? They get it and they’re fine with it! The last thing anyone wants to do is make their children neurotic over food but completely ignoring that there are differences in the foods available to us is irresponsible…at best.

    • katja

      I’m glad it is working for your family. We will have to agree to disagree. In my opinion and when I work with clients, the nutrition talk is static that makes it harder for kids to pay attention. Why not let kids find out that eating too much sugar, and not balance makes them feel bad? I have seen my daughter leave half a bag of chips, or say at age five, “I’ve had enough sweet for today, I’ll save that chocolate for tomorrow.” It also depends on each child and their temperament. A stubborn, independent child who likes to fight for control may be more likely to seek out those foods just to make a point. I’ve seen it. If there are “sometimes” foods, then we as the parent serve it “sometimes.” As M gets older and is in more of a position to make the choices on her own, and closer to the “age of reason” that’s when I’ll have some of these conversations. There is a great addendum in Secrets of Feeding a healthy family about when and how to talk to kids in ways that are age-appropriate.
      But, what you are doing is working for you, so keep it up. I’m just saying, it has the potential to backfire and do harm. Children prone to anxiety, or with a family history of eating disorders (which have a genetic component) need to be protected from this nutrition talk in my experience. Nothing sadder than seeing a five year old having panic attacks because the food has “poison” in it, or it’s “processed.”
      I imagine we actually agree on more than we disagree on, but it’s too easy to mess things up with small kids, again each child is different. And we do agree, that parents, not schools should be choosing the right time to talk about this stuff with their own kids. I do talk about “long” and “short” energy, when I include protein and fat while snack and meal planning, but that’s about it. When M only eats a few pieces of candy for snack (a few times a year we have candy snacks) and is hungry soon after, she is learning a lesson that is far more powerful than words…
      When I talk about “healthy” foods, it is much more than nutrition, the key is attitude. The “good” and “bad” dichotomy invites static, and the headgame which for many, many people makes eating worse, not better.
      Thank you so much for writing in!

  3. Julie

    I am with you all the way on this nutrition nonsense to kids. I also predict all this teaching nutrition to kids is going to backfire. Case in point, look at the Los Angeles District schools. They developed such entrees featuring quinoa, black beans etc. (Not that I have anything against quinoa. In fact, I love it.) The kids are boycotting the school meals to go to fast food outlets. I long for a day when tasty meals….even “inorganic” meals….even with cupcakes with a mountain of frosting for desert are enjoyed by all!

    • Amber

      That works for the kids until the schools institute a “Closed Campus” like they had in my school. No more going off campus to get food they want to eat instead of what the school dictates is good for them.

      And you know, maybe it is healthier, but… quinoa and black beans? All I can say is BLECH!

  4. Dominique

    I don’t have kids yet, however it makes me really angry that this kind of discourse is shoved down their throats EVERY SINGLE DAY. How can they trust their body if all they hear is how it is dangerous to do so? And sometimes I feel they worry and know way too much.

    How can my little 9 years-old cousin ask me about «aspartame»? If I think that it makes you fat or not? I mean… what’s that!!! I’m a 26-year-old woman who doesn’t know shizz about the incidence of artificial sweeteners, and some kid comes to me with seemingly what is an OPINION about it? Gee…

  5. hayley

    I recently wrote out a lengthy rant about how I think “healthy lifestyle” agendas being forced on my kids should be seen as unwelcome as public religious preaching. The gospel of nutrition does not need to be shoved down their throats. But of course, I can’t publish it or share it at the risk of offending all of my gluten-free, organic-loving friends…

    • katja

      you are not the first person I have heard this from. I feel a little bit of that too. When I take M to McDonalds for a playdate, and you know what, we all have a great time, I feel like that’s a dirty secret.

      • hayley

        I know!! And at the grocery store I’m always looking over my shoulder to see who’s at the store at what they would disapprove of in my cart!

  6. wriggles

    “Mom, look, they’re healthy, they’re baked!”

    Ha, ha, out of the mouth of babes. The food industry like to play around with this and though it annoys nutrition bores, it’s often their unsubtle or ill judge rules that permit this jiggery pokery in the first place.

    • katja

      yes, and the “healthy” agenda pushers. Kids are smart, they know that “green light, red light” or “growing food” or “entertainment food” is another way to say “good and bad.” I love when people say, “We don’t want kids to think there are any ‘bad’ foods,” then use these other terms…

  7. Caprice

    This reminds me of my dear departed mother-in-law. She told me she liked to drink Bloody Marys because they were “so nutritious.”

  8. Lisa

    My 6 yo daughter keeps talking about “healthy” foods. Like “Mom, I like [insert food here], they’re healthy”. To which I always reply that ALL foods are “healthy”, in different ways, and that I hope she can just think about what her belly wants and what tastes good to her. I don’t think she’s getting any lectures about healthy foods in kindergarten, but it’s hard to avoid the push for “healthy” in the media, on tv and radio, etc…

    It’s so annoying!!