Safety in Numbers: The Perfect Insurance Against Food Worries

Dec 7, 2008 by

The Experts tell us, don’t eat potatoes. Don’t eat eggs. Don’t eat red meat. Don’t ingest dairy, especially butter. Just when you think you’re doing the right thing as a parent, The Experts change their minds. How can we ever really know what we should be feeding our kids?

In The Gospel of Food: Why We Should Stop Worrying and Enjoy What We Eat, author Barry Glassner gives away the first two right answers to our question in his title. According to Glassner, another primary guideline in feeding kids—regardless of what foods The Experts decide to condemn or endorse—is variety.

Eating the widest possible variety of foods is “good insurance,” Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School, tells Glassner.

The greater the number of different foods a child eats, the less it matters what she eats, and the less a parent needs to worry whether he’s getting the nutrition he needs. How much does it matter if something you only eat once every two months is declared the next big no-no?  And does it really matter what The Experts say, when we all know that all vegetables are good for us but we don’t eat very many of them?

“It appears more important to increase the number of healthy foods regularly consumed than to reduce the number of less healthy foods regularly consumed,” states another Harvard researcher cited by Glassner. So saying yes counts more than saying no.

It’s not only healthier, but simpler and more fun to say yes to the hundreds of vegetables that have not yet been declared harmful than to worry much about either avoiding the foods that The Experts claim will kill us or pushing the miracle food du jour. The busier children are trying all kinds of delicious, nutritious foods, the easier it will be for them to forget about the foods we don’t want them to eat. The more good foods they eat, the less room they’ll have for the bad stuff.

Author of French Women Don’t Get Fat: The Secret of Eating for Pleasure (another telling title), Mireille Guiliano says that, ideally, children should eat about twenty different foods a day.

The goal to shoot for is that your hungry children get used to nothing but change as meals become an adventure of learning to enjoy the innumerable tastes, smells and textures of the thousands of nutritious foods available in their world.

© Sacred Appetite / Anna Migeon December 1, 2008 All Rights Reserved

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