Childhood obesity is on everyone’s mind, from Michelle Obama to Michael Pollan’s manifesto “In Defense of Food.” The battle is being played out in corporate boardrooms, grocery stores and kitchens across the nation. The blame for children’s growing waistlines alternates between ubiquitous fast food companies to insidious marketing campaigns for sugary cereals aimed at children. Foods that are seemingly healthy turn out to be well-packaged villains. And caught in the crossfire, parents are faced with a haunting question:
“What should I be feeding my kids?”
At Care.com, we’ve been hearing from many parents who are frequently second guessing themselves at restaurants and at the store. At this point in the great food debate, who hasn’t stood in the grocery aisle, a bag of Goldfish crackers in one hand and Annie’s Organic Bunnies in the other? As you gaze from one animal shaped cracker to the other, you suddenly remember something about kids being conditioned to snack – maybe you shouldn’t buy either?
Food Education for All – Even the Nanny
And when you bring a care provider into the picture, the food debate gains another contender – a surprising heavyweight. If you’ve made the decision not to introduce your kids to fast food, make sure you pass this on to the nanny. I have a good friend who made this decision, only to come home one night to find her daughter with a new My Little Pony Happy Meal toy. The nanny simply thought it would be a special treat.
Ultimately, we are all – care providers and parents alike - just trying to do what’s best for the kids. And in a world where your child's organic probiotic yogurt looks decidedly less appealing in comparison to a classmate’s SpongeBob Go-Gurt, it is no wonder that we are struggling. And no one disputes the value of an organic garden or chefs serving kale in school cafeterias, but how convenient or accessible are those options for moms, particularly working moms?
We parents are the gatekeepers to our children’s health – and under a lot of pressure. Take a moment, and give yourself a little credit for the battle you fight every time you go to the grocery store, the movies, or drive past a McDonalds.
How do you decide what to feed your family? What are your strategies? Which restaurants make the cut, and what are you putting in your grocery cart?