A Million Meals

Caring for children in today's confusing food environment

Why Mindless Eating May Be Healthier Than You Think

While I take issue both with Dara-Lynn Weiss's actions and her projecting her own body issues onto her young daughter, it's indisputable that her anxiety over having a chubby child is one shared by many, many parents. Read More

Not enough fruit

Not enough fruit. Humans should only eat fruit (lots of it) and vegetables. Everything else is fake food, technically not even food by definition as it is not nourishing, growth promoting, or sustaining. Stimulating Consumable Substances is what they should be called.

Food as nutrition

Obsession is never healthy, and food is one of our greatest sources of pleasure, and pleasure needs to be celebrated. However, the article, in its desire to perpetuate less obsessive, more healthy attitudes towards food, is half-baked. The comment "This focus on food as nutrition can lead to disordered eating . . . " while perhaps true in some cases, makes it seem as though focusing on food as nutrition should be avoided, which is ridiculous. Understanding the value of ingredients and focusing on food as nutrition -- albeit without an overly obsessive or controlling component -- is essential. Why would we want to eschew this valuable knowledge, and not pass it on to our children? So many of our physical and psychological disorders (the GAPS diet is one of many books that document this connection well) stem from the fact we are undernourished, or eating too many over-processed foods. The symptoms are a way that the body is trying to compensate for malnourishment and/or being slowly poisoned by foods or chemicals it cannot process. Focusing on food as nutrition is a way to boost the immune system, and a way to heal for many people and children with allergies, certain forms of autism and ADD. Food can be medicine, and treating it as such by eating the right foods can bring balance to the system.

Nutrition vs. "Nutritionism"

Thanks for your comment; I am always pleased to get responses. I do want to state again that I'm not against people understanding or teaching nutrition, but there are several major flaws in the way we--Americans, parents--acquire and handle our knowledge about nutrition. First, nutrition is a very soft science, and one that is changing constantly. Most people acquire their knowledge of nutrition from the media--books, magazines, TV, newspapers, or the internet--and even the most reputable media sources seem to double back on their opinions every year or two, if not more frequently. Carbs or fat: which is the real enemy? Sugar, corn syrup, artificial coloring: which is most harmful to our kids? Remember when bran was supposed to be the answer to our national weight problem? I have no beef with the concept of nutrition as something we should learn about, but there is a paucity of truly scientific studies on what is actually good and bad for us. Not to mention that vitamins and other supplements aren't even regulated as drugs and therefore no studies of them are required at all--they are a multi-billion dollar business, but no one really knows what most of those pills will do to us (unless you simply want to trust what your friend or neighbor or local TV news host tells you about their supposed health benefits). Like you, I strongly believe that the right food choices can bring enormous benefits to our bodies, minds and societies; but I don't subscribe to the "food as medicine" doctrine because I see it becoming an obsession in its own right; it also turns people's focus inwards when systematic, global changes to our food system are equally, if not more important than what an individual chooses to eat every day. Thanks for reading!

Really enjoyed this article

And agreed whole-heartedly. The focus on food as merely fuel or medicine completely overlooks and diminishes the joy of eating, and that's certainly not something I would want to transmit to my children.
What's more, the health-food obsession often doesn't even lead to healthier choices. The focus on sole nutrients is misguided, because food is more complicated than that. Every food item has an infinite number of (micro)nutrients, which all interact in even more infinite ways that nutritional science hasn't even begun to touch upon, so choosing a product based on its superficial nutritional profile is no sure way to "maximize good nutrition". But it is a sure way to take the pleasure out of eating. And that's a shame because eating is (can be) such a pleasurable activity, and one we get to do several times each day!
Of course health is an important aspect of eating, but again I am in total agreement here with the article, that enjoying real, pure foods yourself and cooking together are much more positive and powerful ways of transmitting the right messages to your children and make it more likely they will end up eating a balanced diet, without them even having to try hard!

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Zanthe Taylor, M.F.A., is a former dramaturg and English teacher who is currently raising two daughters in Brooklyn, NY.

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