Why I'm Tired of "Foods You Should Never Eat" Lists by Real Mom NutritionI am so over seeing this headline: “Foods You Should Never Eat!”

There’s a good reason I see it so much. It’s effective. It’s just sensational enough to draw you in, just scary enough to make you flip to the page or click through to the article with a single worry: Oh no, could I be eating one of those foods????

Yes, you probably are. Because here’s just a small sampling of what a Google search of the phrase “foods you should never eat” turns up:

  • Corn
  • Bread
  • Vegetable oil
  • Gluten
  • Bacon
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Non-organic produce
  • Cereal
  • Ice cream
  • Alcohol
  • “Anything cooked in a microwave”

These lists were so long, the range of foods so broad, it boggles the mind. Though you don’t even have to actually ingest these foods to suffer disastrous health consequences if an article titled “Foods You Should Never Attempt To Eat” is to be believed. And apparently there’s also a subset of particularly hazardous foods that are reserved for a “Foods to Never Ever Eat” category.

And the nutrition misinformation? Enough to make my toes curl.

According to these lists, white rice should be avoided because “your body doesn’t know how to process it” (yes it does; it’s called digestion). White pasta “contains little to no nutrients” (aside from carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are nutrients), and you shouldn’t drink a soda “if you don’t want diabetes” (the leap this statement makes is about a mile long).

Why I'm Tired of "Foods You Should Never Eat" Lists by Real Mom NutritionTo abide by these lists, you must forever pass up mint chocolate chip in favor of blending “berries, almond milk, and stevia” because, sadly, ice cream tops the list of “Summer Foods You Should Never Eat”. You must tote around your own shaker of black lava salt to restaurants because the iodine in table salt is deadly. And forget about eating mayo or drinking tap water ever again. You’re done.

My beef with these lists: That word “never”. Really? NEVER? Yes, there are alternatives to some of these foods that offer more health benefits. Yes, I support buying organic when available and feasible financially. Yes, I advise people to drink water over soda, choose whole grain bread over white, and brown rice over white. But at the end of the day, it’s about what you eat most of the time. It’s about your overall eating habits, not a single food or a single meal.

But the problem with these lists is that instead of informing people, they simply spread fear. A soda will not give you diabetes. White bread is not toxic. Fear of food is not healthy. (Read: Fear & Loathing on Facebook)

So the next time you see a “Foods You Should Never Eat!” list, please take it with a grain of salt.

Just not table salt. That stuff will kill you!

Photos by my fabulous intern Hannah Bills.



Recently, my 10 year old had his birthday party at an indoor trampoline park: a dozen friends, an hour of bouncing, and a party room for 40 minutes. Frankly, I’m usually too cheap to shell out for parties like this, but we figured we’d go big to ring in those double digits. Plus, any arrangement that doesn’t involve cleaning the house or a pack of rowdy 10 year olds running through my living room is a good deal in my book.

The party was during the dinner hour, and the package included pizza and soda (and even teenagers to serve everything!). I thought about how I wanted to handle this, but I didn’t stress about it. I also didn’t want to make a big deal about it with my son and turn his much-anticipated party into a fight with mom about soda. So I made a few tweaks behind the scenes. Here’s what we did:

*Pizza: Yep.

*Drinks: The package included two kinds of soda. Instead, I (quietly) requested water and one kind of soda–and (quietly) requested that when the soda was finished, there were no refills. Nobody cared when the soda ran out. The kids were hot and sweaty and drank water.

*Fruit salad: I brought this from home and it was served with the pizza. And devoured. Some kids had multiple helpings.

*Cake: We baked homemade vanilla cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting and the recipe made enough for one cupcake per kid or parent.

*Goodie bags: Didn’t do them. My son never mentioned it, only one party guest seemed to notice their absence.

I know some people may have done things differently. But this felt like a good balance for us, between my son’s desire to have a regular party with pizza and soda and my own concerns about sugar overkill. Every parent has to do what feels right for them.

But what I’ve learned from hosting (and attending) an awful lot of kids’ parties is this: The real star attraction is never the food. It’s the fun, whether it’s bouncing on trampolines, roller skating, playing games, or just running around the backyard being silly. Food is often a distant third (or tenth) to everything else they’re doing and enjoying.

How do you handle food at your child’s birthday parties?


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April 19, 2013

Something happened on the soccer fields last weekend that made cupcakes seem tame by comparison: A rep from 7 Up worked the crowd, offering free diet soda to parents and kids. When I found out about this through some friends–and confirmed it with a call to our rec center–I felt my blood pressure rise about […]

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Lines in the Sand

November 23, 2009

Cloth or disposable, breast or bottle, attachment parenting or cry-it-out. When you become a mother, they’re some of the Big Choices you’re faced with right off the bat. But even when you’re past the baby stage—when your Diaper Champ can no longer contain the stinkiness and everyone is (kind of, sort of, almost) sleeping through […]

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