A couple of months ago my friend Sally wrote a great blog post on her Real Mom’s Nutrition blog. Sally is a nutritionist, and a mom. At the beginning of T-Ball season Sally wrote the coach of her son’s team and asked if she could take over as snack mom, and if she could ask that people only bring fruit as a snack.
The coach agreed, and Sally wrote a wonderful letter to the other parents on the team, and explained everything. She’s had nothing but positive feedback from the other parents on the team. A few commenters on her Facebook page noted though that they had gotten some push back from parents when they attempted to do the same.
That doesn’t really surprise me.
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.
Don’t believe me? Don’t see a big deal in asking parents to only bring fruit? Imagine Sally’s letter, as well written and polite as it is. Imagine that instead of telling you that this year we were only doing fruit as snacks, it said that this year, we are only doing organic fruit. Also, watermelon and grapes are out because their nutrition content isn’t as high as some other fruits. Or, that fruit, because of it’s high sugar content wasn’t really appropriate, instead it was veggies or nothing. Are you a little annoyed yet?
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.
My husband works with community groups that struggle with this issue all the time. He works in food desert areas, and areas with high rates of obesity and food-related health issues. He works with health workers who have to struggle with cultural prejudices and divides.
It makes sense to me that the groups my husband works with would attempt to find a way to bridge these cultural divides. These neighborhoods are suffering from nutrition-related diseases that are literally killing children.
It makes sense to me that Sally would attempt to find a way do this, even if in all likelihood the kids in her neighborhood are not suffering from obesity or diabetes. She’s a nutritionist, and it’s her job and her passion. It may even be a relief for some parents.
I hated being the kid whose mom only provided raisins as treats (even on Halloween). I’ve sworn never to do that to my kids or myself. But if someone else made the rule that we could all only bring fruit, I’d gladly do it.
Does that make me a wimp? Am I letting kids down because I won’t be the one to make a stand? Or is it ok that I’m more concerned with the feelings of moms than I am with what kids eat? Do you have to choose?