I know I said I would shut up about snacks for a while.
I also know that I’m developing somewhat of a reputation around town for being That Mom Who Won’t Shut Up About Snacks. But like any
monomaniacal impassioned mother worth her weight in playground rants, I’ll keep talking about this as long as somebody’s listening.
Not that everyone agrees with me, of course.
In a fabulously-titled post, “Snack Moms Gone Wild“, my friend Marta Segal (who pens the blog Advice From Marta) wrote about my crusade. And she offered an interesting counterpoint to my argument. Here’s an excerpt:
I love fruit and I agree that kids don’t really need Gatorade or pretzels after the approximately 15 minutes they spend actually engaging in exercise while playing a team sport. But I also think it’s generally a really bad idea to tell other people what to feed their kids.
For most of us, food is rarely just about food. Anyone who has nursed a heartache with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s or brought a meal to a sick or grieving friend knows this. Anyone who has struggled with breast vs bottle, or trying to get their toddler to eat vegetables, or even lied to a friend about what their child does or does not eat knows this. Food is how we take care of ourselves, each other, and our kids.
When you tell a mother what to feed her kid, when you tell her that her choice of snack is not appropriate or healthful, you’re telling her that she doesn’t know how to take care of her kid.
Along these lines, my recommendation for a healthy snack policy was recently presented to the city’s baseball/t-ball league. Where it crashed and burned.
The board hated it. They hated it so much they didn’t even bother voting on it. Their sentiments echoed Marta’s–that nobody has the right to tell parents what to feed their kids.
But here’s the thing: Our kids–the ones washing down cupcakes with blue #2 fruit punch at 9am every Saturday–belong to the first generation in modern history not expected to live as long as their parents because of their weight. Because of the way we’re feeding them. Because our society has invented millions of artificial reasons to celebrate with “special” foods. Because we’ve programmed them to expect dessert every time they gather in a group or break into a slow jog.
Yes, parents have the right to make bad food choices for their own kids. But why are we so bent on protecting their rights to make bad food choices for everyone else’s kids too?
Marta writes, “I can’t do it. I can’t be the one to tell another mom that she isn’t capable of deciding what is and isn’t a good snack for her kid.”
I will. I’ll be that mom. Because marketers have tricked parents into thinking that juice pouches are better than water because they have vitamin C (they’re not) and that fruit snacks are the same thing as fruit (they’re not). Our kids deserve better.