Nutrition: Are We Too Picky? Or Am I Just Confused?

This post is going to sound like it’s about two random things, but hang in there with me for a moment, ok?

Although this may surprise some of you, I have a bit of a slacker in me. I don’t think anyone with 4 kids can survive the experience without adopting a wee bit o’ the slacker mentality. I’m not lazy, and I do take things seriously. But I think that some folks are worrying too much about some things and not enough about others. As an example, take the topic of feeding kids well.

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All over the blogosphere lately I’m seeing posts about children and nutrition. I have read a couple of reviews of Jennifer Seinfeld’s new book, including Tiffany Washko’s post here. Then I read a criticism of what seems to be a wonderful book. The blogger claimed that the book was too deceptive and counterproductive to raising nutritionally aware kids. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I’ll go ahead and post my comments to the author now.

“I disagree with your stance here. My kids (I have 4) aren’t terribly picky so I’ve been blessed, but from my experience, most people grow out of their childish aversion to vegetables as they get older. I’m not sure if it’s because of a conscious decision to eat vegetables because of their benefits, or perhaps it has something to do with our taste buds changing as we age, but it’s a pretty universal phenomenon.

I think we place too much emphasis on what kids are eating and not enough emphasis on how we treat them. Peace at the table and love and gentleness in our treatment of kids are every bit as important in terms of parenting behaviors as a cauliflower, maybe more so.

So sneak in the veggies, I say, if it’s the only way you can get your kids to eat them. And stop feeling guilty about it. Use that energy to play with the kids.”

(Side note, I did post a second comment assuring the blogger that I wasn’t assuming she wasn’t good to her children, but I meant that as a general observation.)

So, I don’t get it.

We Moms get to feel guilty that our kids aren’t eating enough vegetables but if we sneak them into their food we get to feel guilty about duping them?

There is no way to win this conundrum.

How about I just don’t do any of it and say I did? :)

Again – I am a bit of a slacker here, but intentionally. I posted recently about how my 4 year old daughter didn’t know what a hot dog was. That’s pretty intentional. And I do believe in feeding my kids a whole foods diet. I avoid white flour and too much sugar, and we do some generally considered as odd things like drink raw milk and kombucha tea, and I do like to soak my grains. My barometer is, if it makes me feel bad, don’t eat it. If it makes me feel good, go ahead. Pasteurized milk equals stomach pain and problems “going”. Raw milk, it’s all good. Soaked grains I digest better too.

But at the same time, I think there is so much contradictory information out there on the topic of nutrition, that I opt not to spend my entire waking life trying to get to the bottom of it all.

The jury still seems to be out on a lot of this stuff, and I’m not willing to invest too much in any one person’s opinion. The Doctors, health experts, foodie bloggers and authors of nutrition books are all better at reworking the research to prove their point than I am. I’m not an epidemiologist or any kind of scientist and there are no letters after my name.

Care to join me in a quick rundown of the existing opinions?

For every group that is absolutely convinced of one way of eating, there is an opposing camp with an equally logical sounding argument.

One camp says that meat is evil and will make you fat, congested, ooze cancer cells and die early, there are those who say you need it for optimal health and that our ancestors and all cultures the world over eat it and thrive.

One camp says that milk is nasty and slimy and causes everything from bad breath to constipation to failed marriages (ok maybe not but almost), and then there are those who say milk is a perfect heath food but it needs to be raw. Or better yet, fermented into kefir and yogurt.

One camp says that food should be eaten raw, the opposing camp says we don’t have multiple stomachs to digest raw fibrous vegetables easily and even monkeys have the sense to “cook” their food to get the maximum nutrients.

One camp says that fruit has too much sugar and it should be avoided, the other group says that the body can’t tell the difference between “natural” sugar and the white stuff once it hits your blood stream so go ahead and eat fruit … with a cookie on top while you’re at it!

One camp says that carbohydrates are from the devil, that they cause tooth decay, overweight, diabetes, low blood sugar, schizophrenia, mood swings and other evils, and the opposing camp says that it’s too much protein that is the dearth of humankind and that can lead to osteoporosis and other ills.

One group swears that fat is bad, the other says fat is a health food and necessary for brain development and nervous system health. This group even tries to debunk the cholesterol “thing” that the Doctors have been preaching for decades.

One group is convinced that food combining will make you live forever, the other group says that’s nonsense and that your stomach contains the equivalent of battery acid that can handle whatever you throw at it.

One camp says that you should only eat foods that work with your blood type, others say that’s utter poppycock.

One camp says fish is absolutely essential to good health and a veritable wonder food, and their detractors cry “mercury”!

One group says gluten, flour and wheat are bad for everyone and will make your teeth fall out, and that the grains you do eat should be sprouted, others say bread is the staff of life, a gift from God and the way to salvation. (The latest confusion for me on this topic? The phytic acid is the Devil versus phytic acid is our friend folks!)

One camp says that soy will prevent hot flashes and help you stay thin, the other side claims it’s industrial waste and a poison that will give your sons boobs and make your hair fall out.

Don’t even get me started on beverages either! Oh, what the hay.

For everyone who says coffee is bad for you, there is another study showing some health benefit to drinking it.

And the water thing. Some people swear that drinking gallons of it cures every disease known to mankind, others say Adam and Eve didn’t tote bottled water around and that drinking that much can actually harm the kidneys.

Here’s another thing to ponder: It confounds me that people all over the world eat profoundly different diets yet lead healthy lives.

How is it that the Masai peoples in Africa subsist on meat, blood and milk and are healthier than most vegetarians? And how is it that one billion people who eat mostly rice all day long are also healthy? And how is it that the native Inuit and other native tribes thrived on a diet of mostly fat with no (gasp!) vegetables or fruit? And the Irish built a civilization and they ate mostly potatoes and oats?

It’s enough to make a natural Mom a little nutso. Could it be that it just doesn’t matter as much as we believe it does? That we’re all just looking for something to feel constant guilt and obsess over?

I read an article once online, and I so wish I could find it because it was excellent and so spot on in my opinion. (I’ve googled and googled with no success.) It was on a website all about health and nutrition, but it was a bit of a contradiction because it urged the readers not to take it all too seriously. It basically stated that the pursuit of the perfect diet is not unlike an eating disorder in itself. (It’s called Orthorexia, and I interviewed a woman who had wonderful things to say about it.) It made a lot of sense.

Some people who are so obsessed with every crumb that passes their lips may be creating more dis-ease in themselves and their kids than those who have a more relaxed yet balanced approach.

You know, to our Grandmothers who lived during the Great Depression, all food was good food. They were concerned with milk and cookies, and hugs and kisses. And there was far less wrong with the world back then. Nowadays people are as passionate about their food choices as they used to be about their politics or religion. I wonder if we’re healthier as a result?

So maybe in the end, the best thing to do is flip a coin and pick a school of thought, and then don’t question it anymore. At the very least you would have more time to devote to other endeavors, like playing with your kids. And maybe I could get that frown line in the middle of my forehead to go away if I adopted this philosophy too. :)

gospel of food.jpg The last book I read on nutrition (there I go again reading books on food!) was pretty dern convincing. And it may just be the last book I ever read on nutrition, ever. It’s called The Gospel of Food: Everything You Think You Know About Food Is Wrong Just one tiny thing about the book that I thought was Ab Fab:

There was actually a study done that showed that when subjects ate foods that they enjoyed, they gleaned more nutrients from that food, and when the researchers gave that food to people who didn’t enjoy it, their bodies absorbed less nutrition.

Bingo! Our brains have a lot to do with it. Gasp! Enjoying your food…. pretty controversial stuff. :)

More: Maybe the French have it right? I hear their kids eat whatever’s put in front of them!

About Carrie

Happy wife, homeschooling mom of many, autodidact, best-selling Amazon author, blogger, head chef and barefoot walker. Residing just outside Atlanta, usually found reading a book while sipping a hot beverage.

Comments

  1. Reading this post was a work out! lol

    The way I look at it is if I feel it’s good for my family then that is good enough for me. Like you said there are so many differing opinions out there to know for certain what really is the best for your body.

    So in the end it’s left up to you and your personal opinion. And what I think is good for my family right now might end up changing months or years down the road. It certainly has changed from what I felt even this time last year.

    As far as the veggies go…I still don’t like them much. I’m very picky. I eat them because I know I need to, but I don’t enjoy many. My Mother didn’t make us eat a wide variety of veggies…I don’t have a clue if I would like them now had I eaten them as a child.

    I don’t mind sneaking veggies in, either. Heck, I wish somebody was here to sneak them in on me. lol I’m pretty lucky as my oldest likes veggies that many kids don’t like…such as brocolli. If there is brocolli on the plate he’ll eat it before anything else. :) I love me some brocolli, too.

    Anyways, good stuff here Carrie.

  2. Nell I love broccoli too, it’s actually my favorite veggie but dern it all if it doesn’t give me the most severe heartburn. I mean like, rolling around on the floor moaning pain heartburn.
    :)

  3. Well that was a good read Carrie. I think most of people think eating healthier is too much work or too expensive, I suppose it could be if you were buying all organics and fearing all of those things you just referred to in the post. I started making small food changes bit by bit about a year ago and I hadn’t realized how these small changes have added up until recently.

    I stopped buying fast food and I have no desire to eat it, I imagine it as poison for my body so now I don’t want it. I don’t buy snack cakes, cookies or chips anymore and I turn away bday cake at lot of parties . I have developed a dislike to alot of those things. It is so easy to not eat these foods when you just don’t buy them . My 2 youngest kids have never hadr a sip of pop at age 4 and 6 and they don’t want it either. Not saying they don’t like or want sweets, they just don’t see me drinking it .
    I can go on but who really wants to read about my food story? I just wanted to point out that I am not freaking out about everything new I read about foods, but I do know the difference between good and bad. I still have some guilty pleasures, but I am making a big effort to make better food choices while shopping, planning meals and teaching my kids how important our eating habits are right now.

    .

  4. Excellent post Carrie! My thoughts exactly – well sort of – you said it better! LOL

  5. Nuf said! ;-) Great post Carrie!

  6. Thanks for your comments ladies. :)

  7. Excellent post Carrie :)

  8. whew! you really did have a lot on your mind. ;)

    i am with you in that if you think too much about food and nutrition, it can easily get overwhelming.
    i believe our best bet is to pay attention to what we are eating and feeding our kids by reading labels and avoiding artificial colors and flavors whenever possible, as well as by eating as much fresh food as we can. organics are certainly nice, but they are costly.
    i think people can make little changes here and there that will help benefit them. it’s way too overwhelming to think of all the “bad” things we eat and try to cut them out all at once. rather pick a few things and start by replacing those with healthier versions or other foods. i think it’s a process.

    before i had kids, i didn’t think about these things nearly as much as i do now. and i’m learning new tidbits about nutrition and health all of the time. it’s a constant learning process and a desire to do what’s best for my family, without going overboard.

    as for sneaking veggies in to other foods, i believe in everything in moderation. if you want to sneak some veggies in here and there, fine. but i do think it’s also important to explain to kids why veggies are healthy and for them to see mom/dad eating veggies as a good example. i disagree with jennifer seinfeld saying she will put a box of mac n cheese on the counter so the kids assume that’s what she’s making, while in the meantime she creates her own veggie blend mac n cheese. that seems like she’s deliberately trying to dupe them. personally, i liked michelle’s idea (you quoted her blog above) about sneaking the veggies in the first time or two, but then showing the kids the “secret ingredients” so that they see that veggies can be tasty. i don’t know if this would work as well with younger kids as it would with say preschoolers and up, but it might be worth a try.

    my biggest complaint with jennifer seinfeld’s book is that she seems to be out to purposely deceive her kids, is proud of it, and doesn’t think there is anything wrong with it. and she also seems to think it’ll affect their eating habits when they get older. it seems to me that by letting them eat chicken nuggets, brownies, etc. now when they are young, that they will think those things are perfectly fine to eat regularly in the real world, when in fact they are only healthy foods in ms. seinfeld’s kitchen.

    ultimately, it is up to individual families to decide what is right for them. :)

    sorry so long. just my .02 (and then some). ;)

    amy

  9. Great post, Carrie! Whatever happened to “everything in moderation” and why is there only one “right” way to eat and be healthy? We’re not all exactly the same so why should there be a “one way fits all” mentality? I’d rather play with my kids than decipher all this…

  10. Brava, Carrie!

    This is one of the bests posts I’ve seen on this subject in ages. For me, I feel that sticking as close to whole foods as possible (whatever they be) is the best choice for my family. End of story.

    I agree with Amy as well. I dislike that Seinfeld seems deliberately intent on deceiving children rather than showing them that vegetables can be healthy.

  11. I blogged about the Oprah show here:
    http://mamaknj.blogspot.com/2007/10/fresh-resolve.html

    I already had the book on my wishlist, but after the show I went ahead and ordered it. I want that chocolate chip cookie w/ chickpeas recipe.

    My son is also a good eater. He eats all veggies, except broccoli. In fact his favorite food is black beans. I have always offered him fresh, whole foods from the time he started solids. He does eat some dry cereal, but for the most part we stear clear of the processed stuff. I really think shaping their tastes from the beginning helps a lot too. Mostly, I want the cookbook to sneak more nutrition in food I’m cooking for DH and I! LOL We are the junkfood lovers in the house.

    You make some great points…
    “Could it be that it just doesn’t matter as much as we believe it does? ”
    I whole heartedly agree. I think where we get into real trouble is with the over processed foods and all the tons of chemicals and preservatives that go into them. Our bodies were just not designed to handle them. Food dyes derived from petroleum? Um, yuck.

    I think we need to take a common sense approach. Everything in moderation. Don’t eat what makes you feel bad. Drink when you are thirsty. Stear clear of foods that no longer resemble “whole” (ie Cheese Wiz and Ritz crackers anyone?) Some homemade cookies are great… just don’t eat the whole pan. Oh yeah, and STOP eating when you are full. That’s a big one. :)

  12. Wow! — Absolutely TREMENDOUS post, Carrie!!

    My whole life — I have been obssessive about nutrition – from fasting for 30 days on water (very extreme)… when I was in my 20s, to going totally into junk food and smoking and partying, in my 20s, to being strict raw fooder for many months, to vegan, to vegetarian, to – you name it, I’ve tried it!!!

    It’s only been the last 10 years, that I feel more balanced, and able to make the right decisions for me. And even in my coaching, I am all about helping people get in tune with their own bodies, and their own needs, and not imposing my opinions on them.

    (Except when it comes to artificial anything, and sugar, and coffee….) Oh, there I go — I think I do have strong opinions on what works and doesn’t work!!!

    Interesting about the thoughts – negative or positive. I know that with some of the nutritional products I use, we have had wonderful results with animals (when nothing else worked)…. so how would that be explained? Unless they were picking up on the vibes of the owner… and so they got healthier??

    I guess my bottom line is, keep as close to nature as possible…

    This is an incredible post, and a subject dear to my heart!!!
    Diana Walker, Cravings Coach

  13. I recently became a vegetarian. The move was not difficult for me, as meat (beef, chicken, fish, etc.) no longer taste as good as 15 years ago. Quick growth harmones and experimental methods, all in the name of the mighty dollar, has removed all flavor from meat protein.

    My hope is to slowly win my family over to a vegetarian diet. Two books that have influenced my decision are, “The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide to a Healthy Vegetarian Diet” by Vesanto Melina & Brenda Davis, and “The Maker’s Diet” by Jordan Rubin.

    While the book, “The Maker’s Diet”, does not exclude meats, it does explain the importance of a healthy digestive tract. I learned more from these two books about the effects of vitamins and minerals on my health and well being than I did in twelve years of school.

  14. I have to say there are lots of advertisements glamourizing the boxed version and other kids who sing its praises. No one is advertising homemade recipes or veggies. Sometimes you take a moment to teach your kids about what is best, and sometimes you save the argument for later.
    They will gain a taste for the veggie version and then eventually they’ll figure out that mom’s not only tastes better but is good for you. Here at our house, I don’t bother putting out the boxed version, but if my kids were die hard sold on the box version and would freak if I did something different, i might try sneaking veggies IN the kraft version or use the box on the counter method. Eventually they’d be told the truth and we’d all have a good laugh.

Trackbacks

  1. Nutrition » Nutrition: Are We Too Picky? Or Am I Just Confused? says:

    [...] wrzeaghv936 wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptAll over the blogosphere I’m seeing posts about children and nutrition. I have read a couple of reviews of Jennifer Seinfeld’s new book, including Tiffany Washko’s post here. Then I read a criticism of what seems to be a wonderful book. … [...]

  2. www.dietsandnutrition.info » Nutrition: Are We Too Picky? Or Am I Just Confused? says:

    [...] carrie wrote a fantastic post today on “Nutrition: Are We Too Picky? Or Am I Just Confused?”Here’s ONLY a quick extractOne camp says that fruit has too much sugar and it should be avoided, the other group says that the body can’t tell the difference between “natural” sugar and the white stuff once it hits your blood stream so go ahead and eat fruit with … [...]

  3. [...] Posted by as Uncategorized One camp says that carbohydrates are from the devil, that they cause tooth decay, overweight, diabetes, low blood sugar, schizophrenia, mood swings and other evils, and the opposing camp says that it’s too much protein that is the …article continues at carrie brought to you by diabetes.medtrials.info and medtrials.info [...]

  4. Pet Fish » Nutrition: Are We Too Picky? Or Am I Just Confused? says:

    [...] carrie wrote an interesting post today on Nutrition: Are We Too Picky? Or Am I Just Confused?Here’s a quick excerptOne camp says fish is absolutely essential to good health and a veritable wonder food, and their detractors cry “mercury”! One group says gluten, flour and wheat are bad for everyone and will make your teeth fall out, … [...]

  5. [...] Ever since Jessica Seinfeld appeared on Oprah touting her new book “Deceptively Delicious,” there’s been lot of talk around the internet about sneaking veggies into kids’ food. Some are for it, some are against it. I tend to take a somewhat moderate approach. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with mixing vegetables into other foods, but I don’t believe in intentionally trying to deceive your kids. Seinfeld says she will set a box of store-bought mac & cheese out on the counter so the kids assume that’s what she is making, while in the meantime she is whipping up her own healthy homemade mac, cheese & veggie blend. That feels dishonest to me and rubs me the wrong way. It seems like a quick and temporary fix to me and I don’t think that will establish good eating habits for later in life either. However, just because I don’t agree with it doesn’t mean it won’t work for some parents and their kids. Bottom line is we all gotta do what’s best for our family. [...]

  6. [...] First, a bit of background. My 9 year old made cupcakes. (Yes, we eat cupcakes and other sinful foods occasionally. Read my philosophy on nutrition. And we had collard greens and black eyes peas for dinner.) [...]

  7. [...] Here’s her post: http://naturalmomstalkradio.com/blog/nutrition-are-we-too-picky-or-am-i-just-confused/ addthis_url = ‘http%3A%2F%2Fwww.themenumom.com%2Fnutrition-what-is-your-stance’; addthis_title = ‘Nutrition+-+What+Is+Your+Stance%3F’; addthis_pub = ”; « Christmas Cookie Time!   [...]

  8. [...] essay on feeding kids healthy: Food Fights! I wrote something similar awhile back about conflicting nutrition advice and confusion. This entry was posted in Misc. Bookmark the permalink. ← Photo Friday: My [...]

  9. [...] As if the topic of nutrition weren’t confusing and full of contradictory information enough for your tastes, here is the latest I came across: You know that natural bacon seasoned with celery salt [...]

  10. [...] and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price 3 years ago and was blown away. You know my overall philosophy of nutrition is a bit jaded, [...]