Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: It's official, moms. We never do the right thing. If you've got an organic only fridge and a pantry entirely trans fats free, then you've got a problem, the New York Times reports.
Parents who tell their kids that white rice is akin to candy and who treat french fries like poison might be doing their kids more harm than good, or so says doctors, dietitians and eating disorder experts. They might be dishing out a heaping serving of an eating disorder along with that veggie burger.
"We're seeing a lot of anxiety in these kids," said Cynthia Bulik, the director of the eating disorders program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "They go to birthday parties, and if it's not a granola cake, they feel like they can't eat it. The culture has led both them and their parents to take the public health messages to an extreme."
Before you run out and order pepperoni pizza for dinner to atone for your health nut ways, read on.
"Certainly, not all parents who enforce rules about healthy food -- or any dietary plan -- are setting their children up for an eating disorder. Clinical disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia, which have been diagnosed in increasing numbers of adolescents and young people in the last two decades, are thought by researchers to have a variety of causes -- including genetics, the influence of mass media and social pressure."
Well that's a relief! But the article goes on to say that parents who are too rigid in how they talk about food with their kids and too restrictive about what they offer might be creating neurotic eaters who freak out if their rice isn't brown or they get served Oreos instead of Newman's Own.
"We're driving our kids absolutely crazy," said Katie Wilson, president of the School Nutrition Association. "All the stuff about preservatives and pesticides. All an 8-year-old kid should know is that he or she should eat a variety of colors, and don't supersize anything but your water jug."
So there you have it. You can, in fact, never win. If you spend your time reading labels to make sure your kids don't consume partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil or high fructose corn syrup, you're a nut with a neurotic kid doomed for a life spent purging over the toilet bowl. But if you throw caution to the wind and serve mac and cheese for dinner every night, your kids will be obese with type II diabetes before they finish the fifth grade.
At least one thing is certain. We can rest assured that whatever we do, it's all our fault.
|Ronda Kaysen is a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, BusinessWeek.com, Architectural Record, Huffington Post, New York Observer and AM New York. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.|