About Food Nazi Moms

by Melissa Clouthier | January 6, 2009 4:21 pm

Ericka Anderson[1] quotes Laura Bennett[2] who says:

I just want to let the food Nazi moms in on what happens when your kids come to a house where junk food inhabits the pantry. They have no decision-making skills or sense of moderation when faced with the forbidden fruit roll-up. Like deprived animals, they are determined to consume the lifetime allotment of sugar they have been denied; all before pickup. I have seen one such child eat Swiss Miss Cocoa with a spoon directly out of the family-size container, only to move on to conquer a box of frosted strawberry Pop-Tarts.

…Sheltering children from every evil in the world does them a disservice; decision-making is a skill, learned with practice from the time they are small. At some point my boys will go out into the world and have to decide for themselves what is right and wrong. One would hope that by then they have ascertained that Krispy Kreme doughnuts are not really for breakfast…


Some of my kids friends have Food Nazi Moms and their reactions to Doritos is pathological. They shove into my pantry and consume chips and pretzels and Gold fish crackers like locusts.

How do you teach a child about good decision making if they never make decisions? Food is a dangerous thing to fetishize because people always have to eat. Obsessions around food rarely turn out well.

I remember a kid who ate nothing but McDonalds growing up. His mom wasn’t particularly domestic and my mom clucked about the malnutrition. Admittedly, the kids in that family looked sickly. He’s now a friend on Facebook and looks fit as a fiddle. He probably eats soy nuts and tofu sandwiches every day. I don’t know. I haven’t asked.

There have been patients who have the worst eating habits and need help. You wouldn’t believe what some people view as “healthy” nutrition. Still, when giving advice, I try to be balanced. Perfection can be challenging to obtain–if it’s even desirable or definable when it comes to food. All sorts of things thought to be healthy at one time are now considered off-limits (Wonderbread). Things that used to be considered unhealthy are now considered fine in moderation (coffee, wine, chocolate, fat).

Good rule: Eat food as close to the source and least handled as possible–salad, fruit, veggies, protein. The more processing, the less healthy. Still, one of the joys of life is having complex taste buds that can be delighted with something as bad for you as a Dorito or piece of chocolate cake. If 90% of person’s diet is healthy, 10% indulgence can make for balanced fun. And a child raised in a tolerant environment will be less likely to be obsessed and have issues as an adult.

Aside: Laura also mentions TV, computers, pop culture, etc. Nazis. Protection from a certain amount of “junk food for the mind” is also helpful, but obsession creates obsession. Kids are resourceful and the forbidden fruit tastes sweetest. I go for more of the “poison the pot” school of thought. That is, sit with them during Hannah Montana, say, and dissect in excruciating detail the superficiality, narcissism, and wrongness of some of the things therein. It sucks the joy right out of the experience to actually “see” what you’re watching. The other benign stuff, teach them moderation.

Cross-posted at MelissaClouthier.com[3]

  1. Ericka Anderson: http://culture11.com/blogs/ladyblog/2009/01/06/food-nazi-moms/
  2. Laura Bennett: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-01-03/my-war-against-food-nazi-moms/
  3. MelissaClouthier.com: http://melissaclouthier.com

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