27 February 2009


First, a word of explanation and apology. Almost all my reading right now falls into three categories: I read for work/school, I read in service of my hobbies and interests, and unless I'm on a media fast, I read a bit most days from the New York Times online. Some of all that turns up here, but if it seems like most of my general interest posts come from the NYTimes, well, that's about all the general reading I do.

Now, if that wasn't enough of a turn-off, I'll warn you that this post is really nothing special. Just an "I need a break so I'll blog something" post. And it's a little depressing. But this article from (you guessed it) the NYTimes gave me pause. I am, compared to most people, food obsessed, and on two levels. First, as I've blogged before, I love really great food. And when it comes to great food, nutrition is not a consideration. I'm very happy to eat 1500 calories of fat and sugar in one meal, if it's a truly great meal. Otherwise, as a National Weight Control Registry candidate, I am usually quite careful about what I eat the rest of the time. I have a definite personal list of "good" foods and "bad" foods.

But in spite of that, I believe strongly that moral categories like "good" and "evil" should not be applied to food. It's a good thing to eat "bad" food sometimes, if truly pleasurable and celebratory. (I speak nutritionally, of course. Lousy cooking and spoiled food are rightly called "bad" and should not be eaten).

Speaking of good or bad eating makes more sense. But as this article illustrates, obsessing about healthy eating can itself become a destructive eating disorder. We have to be especially careful around our kids, who are less able than adults to moderate or interpret hyperbolic comments we may make about "evil" foods.

    Lisa Dorfman, a registered dietitian and the director of sports nutrition and performance at the University of Miami, says that she often sees children who are terrified of foods that are deemed “bad” by parents. “It’s almost a fear of dying, a fear of illness, like a delusional view of foods in general,” she said. “I see kids whose parents have hypnotized them. I have 5-year-olds that speak like 40-year-olds. They can’t eat an Oreo cookie without being concerned about trans fats.”

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