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Jun 20, 2006 02:30 PM

Feeding children in the absence of mass media

  • f

I thought this might be of interest for the chowhounds who occasionally discuss children's food - an example of children who weren't exposed to all the advertising.

"My Children, The Food Experiment"
by Sandra Steingraber


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  1. My sister experienced something similar with her daughters before they attended a Montessori preschool. When they were under the exclusive supervision of parents and family they would eat a wonderful variety of things and were pretty fearless about what they'd try. Once they were around children who had spent a lot of time watching television and eating junk food, that was what they wanted to do and that was what they wanted to eat.

    Their diets are much less varied now and one of them is a tv junkie.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jillp

      I used to do volunteer work with kids from families that had immigrated from several different countries. They ate all kinds of "exotic" food at home, but when we had a meal on a field trip, it was a struggle to get them to agree to eat anything that wasn't American fast food.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        My niece used to love sushi as a small child, my brother was a police officer and had broken up an armed robbery at the local sushi bar. She was treated as royalty by the staff and ate practically whatever swam in the sea.

        2 months after starting school she thought sushi was yucky and wouldn't eat it because her new best friend said so.

    2. That the biggest self-serving "essay" I have sen in a long time.

      "I, I, I, me, me, me".

      I thought I was reading someone's diary.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ODB

        I find I have to agree with you. My 3 yo daughter is exposed to mass media on a limited basis and is still an adventurous eater who loves broccoli and carrots. While I worry about how this country treats food sometimes, I also cringe at the holier than thous who espouse a lot of the same things I do. Not really how I want to be represented.

        I will say my daughter who loves Thai and Indian food would never call soda or McDonald's "Spicy". Yucky maybe.

        1. re: LisaLou

          They lost me when they had to inform me that the hubby was a "sculptor".

          Oy vey.

      2. I caught a snippet of a news story that said research shows children are born with an instinctive craving for meat (protein), but learn to crave vegetables and desserts only if their parents expose them to a variety of foood.

        2 Replies
        1. re: nooodles

          You are suprised that children are born with an instinctive craving for protien? did you ever notice that biologically humans are designed as carnivores? Canines, eyes in front of the head, etc. While they are also designed to eat vegs and fruits and grains, the primary biological instinct is protien. It is only because we are "intellegent" that we know that we need a balanced diet.

          That said, the biggest draw of fast food for kids is not the protien, but rather the salt and the sweet.

          1. re: nooodles

            Really? I thought it was that we were born with an instinctive craving for fruit (sweet).

          2. r
            Robert Lauriston

            In my observation, attempts to improve children by denying them things usually backfire. Once old enough to bypass the parental filter they're often unhealthily obsessed with whatever's taboo at home.

            8 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I don't equate educating and tabooeing.
              A good education illuminates without censoring.
              With my children it certainly worked, never backfired.

              1. re: RicRios

                I agree. It's one thing to just say no. It's quite another to explain to a child why something is bad or inappropriate so that they can come to the same conclusion for themselves.

                My son knows that we will never voluntarily eat at a McDonalds or buy junk food--and he has a clear understanding as to what the reasoning is behind this. I've taken the time to explain to him the way that advertising uses cartoons and characters to appeal to kids and how they are just trying to trick us into paying more for something cheap and unhealthy.

                Teaching them to see through this sort of manipulation extends beyond food to any form of crass commercialism. As far as I am concerned, we can all stand to deny ourselves a lot more. But then that's how I was raised... Even very small kids can grasp this idea.

                1. re: RicRios
                  Robert Lauriston

                  Parents are perhaps not the most reliable informants about the results of their choices in bringing up their children.

                  I base my observation on how many of my adult friends have been obsessed with things their parents prohibited, limited, or discouraged when they were children.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I do see what you mean. My ILs denied my husband and his sister TV. So they'd go over to there other people's houses to watch and both of them are obsessed with TV now.

                    I do think that it is possible to guide your child to the right choice by educating them. The key is not to make a big deal of it or deny them if they make the wrong choice.

                    1. re: LisaLou
                      Robert Lauriston

                      The key is to teach critical skills.

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Let me guess.

                      You don't have any kids?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        It doesn't seem to me that observing the personality flaws in a small, self-selected group of adult friends is the best way to glean reliable child-rearing techniques, either...

                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                          I don't know. I've known a lot of kids of hippies who LOVED to go to friends' houses for TV and sugar cereal when they were kids, but now have extremely healthy diets. Of all the people I know who grew up without junk food (about a dozen or so), none really eat junk food now. But I would say about half of those who grew up on junky suburban food continue to eat it.

                          Statistically invalid sample, of course, but my observation, for what it's worth.


                    3. My son (he's 18 now) was always taught the mantra my father told me. "Try it once. If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it again. If you do, it doesn't matter what it is." He was always an adventurous eater and in fact loved to "freak out" his friends. At age 5 he was telling the waiter at dim sum restaruants that he wanted duck feet and at age 10 he was ordering excargot. Now he looks for interesting things to cook and will eat almost anything except liver(and celery for some reason.)