This “wonderful child” isn’t anyone I know

I know there are some people who think all children are wonderful. After nine-plus years of parenting and plenty of play dates I know this is not true. There was one child who expressed his disappointment at having to leave our house by biting my babysitter when she tried to comfort him. There were others who not only played “army” but concocted battle scenarios with such detail I know I will be reading about them one day and not in a good way. All children “have their moments” but some are just not good.
There’s a food equivalent of all “all children are wonderful” and this is a belief system that holds there are no bad foods. I’ve questioned this one for a while but felt validated to read a recent Jane Brody article. The article focuses on the habits of 120,877 health professionals followed for 12 to 20 years. Periodically the subjects answered in depth questions about their eating, exercise, sleep, alcohol and television habits. Participants weren’t obese at the study’s start but steadily gained an average of 16.8 pounds in 20 years. One of the lead researchers, Dr Mozaffarian a cardiologist and epidemiologist had this to say about the results:
“There are good foods and bad foods, and the advice should be to eat the good foods more and the bad foods less. The notion that it’s O.K. to eat everything in moderation is just an excuse to eat whatever you want.”             
In this study foods that contributed to greatest weight gain were French Fries, potato chips, sugar-sweetened drinks, red meat, processed meat, other forms of potatoes, sweets and desserts and refined grains.  My bad food list, not solely concerned with weight, would include artificial sweeteners and anything artificially sweetened (diet soda topping this list), bagels, bottled salad dressings, foods using dyes, TVP and products using processed soy and factory farmed meat.
Many people have items on my list and the items from the study’s findings they eat. Lest people accuse me of advocating dietary perfection, I will confess that I adore a crispy French fry and really enjoy chocolate (and not only the dark kind). Having said this, when I consume these foods I am aware they are a deviation from my healthy diet and know they are bad (if the criteria has to do with health) foods. We need to move away from the Pollyannaish food thinking.
The retort to any acknowledgement that all foods don’t fit is that deprivation leads to disordered eating and eating disorders. With all due respect to eating disorders and the struggle ED individuals endure, we are not a deprived nation.  Telling people they can have fries and chips and hot dogs and soda “in moderation” is akin to telling the “wonderful” boy above he can bite every so often.
As important as it is to acknowledge that certain foods lead to weight gain thereby affecting our health, that isn’t the only message. When I meet with a new client I first focus on what needs to be added to their diets. “Eat more fruits and vegetables” suffers from vagueness.  Dietary advice needs to encourage people to snack on sliced watermelon in the summer, roast Brussels sprouts in the winter and bake some French fries. It’s not dietary doom and deprivation but honesty and inspiration that’s needed.  We cannot wait for people to be ill or obese to embrace significant behavioral changes, the writing is on the wall we just have to read it.
Do you agree or disagree there are bad foods? If you agree, what foods would you add to the unhealthy list? What’s your biggest pet peeve when it comes to children’s behavior? Or do you think all children are wonderful?
The winner of our Travel Snack Bundle is Erin from The Healthy Apron, thank you to everyone for entering and for spreading the word about our new store.

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