Friday, November 9, 2012

Marion Nestle: Kids Don't Need Kids' Food

Marion Nestle is a foremost expert on nutrition in the United States and a role model of mine. Her common sense approach to nutrition--that's based in fact--is one that I also strive for in my practice. I was again pleased to read her comments on accessibility to healthy food and parental influence published in the October 2012 issue of Childhood Obesity. I thought it was very much worth passing along.

Here's an excerpt from Jamie Devereaux's interview with Nestle, entitled Kids Don't Need Kids' Food:

Devereaux: "Further to the discussion of packaged food: Do you think diets can be healthy and still include packaged foods?"
Nestle: "Can the typical American diet progress to a diet entirely free of packaged foods? And what would it take to get there? Why does it have to be 100% one way or the other? That makes no sense to me. Right now, the default diet is largely based on foods that are processed or pre-prepared. I would like to see a better balance between foods cooked from scratch and those made by someone else. I’m not sure what the exact balance is but the idea would be to change it over time to make a greater percentage of food intake come from fresh, relatively unprocessed foods."

Devereaux: "Finally, if you could shape the discussion of healthy food access for children in America—how would you frame it and what would you focus on?"
Nestle: "Kids don’t need kids’ food. If adults are eating healthfully, kids should be eating the same foods that adults eat. Babies don’t need commercial baby food. Older kids don’t need kids’ products. Families can all eat the same foods, and that should make life easier for all concerned. If you don’t want your kids drinking sodas, don’t bring them home from the supermarket. Teach kids to eat real foods early on, and they will be great eaters throughout life."

It's hard, if not impossible, to find a person who eats a perfect diet. Do we even know what perfect is? But if we strive to eat mostly good, wholesome foods that have been minimally processed, I think Nestle would agree, that we'd be much healthier.

With all the nutritional "clutter" that's out there, it can be difficult to figure out what's right. Just keep in mind that there really are no tricks. No secrets. All of us, no matter our age, should aim to keep healthy eating simple. Ask yourself these questions the next time you are eating: "Did it grow in the ground or from a tree? Can I recognize the ingredients?" Let that be your first guide. We all like to indulge every now and then in something this isn't quite as good for us. What's the harm really as long as it isn't a regular thing?

To read the entire piece, click here.

What do you think?