I'm sharing this blog That I wrote last October with you now, because I have seen so many stories in my feed lately about what to eat and what not to eat ("7 Worst Foods You should Never Eat for Breakfast" or "8 So-Called Healthy Foods Registered Dietitians Wouldn't [or Rarely] Eat")...and many of them are written by dietitians! I hate that, because it reinforces what many people think dietitians are all about. Well not all of us are rigid and strict. Many of us don't believe in demonizing and restricting foods. Some of us even teach people to listen to their bodies and recognize what moderation (for them) looks like.
Originally posted on October 21, 2015 — Julie Seale, RD
I'm sure you've seen them: the articles about what dietitians won't eat...or won't feed their kids...or the offspring of their worst enemy. Today I was talking to my friend (she's also a dietitian) and she showed me a blog written by a dietitian about the 7 foods she won't feed her kids. Now, as with any other profession, dietitians have different ways of practicing...and we are influenced by our own belief systems. So please don't read this as me saying she's wrong. I present another point of view. My friend and I had a lot to say about this list of 7...she feeds many (if not all) of those foods to her kids. If I had kids, I wouldn't have off-limits foods either. Well...except for this list:
1. Moldy Bread
2. Milk that has chunks in it
3. Generally, any food that is bound to make anyone sick (ie from food poisoning or allergies or whatever)
Now, as for the list that the other dietitian wrote...sure, I agree to some extent; those are not foods to eat every day. They are high in sugar and low in vitamins and minerals. But "never" is a really long time. Telling children that certain foods are bad can set them up with food struggles when they are older. I get that it comes from a place of love: giving your child the food that will nourish her. I agree...a diet high in added sugars and low in whole foods won't promote healthy growth and development. But, a diet completely void of those hitlisted foods is also not healthy. When you put a label on it, it just makes them want it more. It is very difficult to learn moderation when they never get to eat it. It all comes down to balance.
Many of you will disagree...some might even say I can't possibly know, because I'm not a parent. But, I do see a great deal of adults in my office struggling with food. Heck, I even see 6-10 year olds saying things like "I'm fat so I can't eat [chips, chocolate, pizza, whatever]" and "That's junk food so I can't have it". I believe the best way to teach children about healthy eating is to stop labelling foods as "good", "super", "bad" and "junk" and talk to kids about food in a neutral way. In the end, as parents, you decide what foods your children eat. Sure, limit ultra processed foods and teach them where food comes from. But let them discover how food makes them feel.