Food, Glorious Food

February 26, 2009


The Chowhound

The Chowhound

My son love to eat.  I mean, he really, really loves to eat.  He loves food, he already savors different tastes- taking his time to get to know a new flavor when it is introduced.  It is a pleasure to watch him eat. And he comes by his gourmand tendencies honestly- both my husband and I come from families that love food.  Which made today’s Times piece about children and food fascinating, sad, and a bit unnerving.

It talks about how parents’ obsession with the healthiness of their children’s food- organic, whole grains, no sugar, no soda, etc., etc.- is leading to an increase in children who are obsessed with their diets and base their obsession in a fear of getting sick with diabetes, heart disease, etc., etc.

I confess, I am one of those moms who makes her baby’s food, who uses organic ingredients, and who is very focused on making sure he has a well-balanced diet.  I tried to avoid sugar and to limit salt.  That said, though, I am also all about exposing my child to as many tastes as possible- spices, herbs, sauces, and complicated dishes have all been introduced already.  I was elated when our pediatrician said that he could have cow’s milk.

And yet, I am often hyper conscious of what I feed my child in public (surreptitiously feeding him guacamole at a Mexican restaurant and hummus at a bougie coffee shop).  I am always terrified that some mother is going to descend on me, screeching about what a terrible parent I am by letting my child eat garlic.  

To be fair, though, these beliefs and fears do get rather beaten into us these days… Before the baby is even born you are told what you should and shouldn’t eat during pregnancy.  And then once the baby is born, forget about it.  The number of friends of mine who have cut out dairy and/or soy from their diet while breast feeding is staggering.  And then, once solid foods are introduced, there is so much discussion in baby books about the dangers of different foods, of bacteria, of choking.  It is amazing any of us feed our kids anything!

So I say screw it and let the harpies go nuts.  I’m not going to feed him nuts or shellfish for a while.  But he is happy, healthy, and loves his food.  If I can encourage that type of relationship with food, and encourage healthy eating patterns, rather than a focus on right/wrong types of food, then I think we’ll be ok. I want food to be a source of enjoyment, celebration, and exploration, not loaded by fear and angst.  


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