Do You Love to Eat What Your Mom Loves to Eat?

There are days I really relate to Roseanne Barr’s old joke:  “I don’t call myself a feminist.  I prefer the term ‘killer bitch.’”  This is one of those days.

Via Kate Harding’s site, I just got tipped off to an article in the Kansas City Star that came excruciatingly close, ohsoclose, to acknowledging that all the public handwringing about Childhood Obesity Boogaboogabooga is doing kids more harm than good.  The first page of the article makes many of the same points that a similar story that Sandy Szwarc posted on July 4 on Junkfood Science, that said all the billions-with-a-b spent on trying to get kids to diet eat “healthier” is actually making them hate vegetables even more than they already do, and hasn’t made them lose any weight either.

I take a breath. Could it be? An actual Paid Media Source admitting that you can’t make kids like things they dislike, or want to consume things voluntarily that don’t taste good to them? And that even if you could, it wouldn’t turn most fat kids into thin ones?

And then I click the link to page two…and fahhhk if they don’t ruin everything. Because even if they let the schools and the federal government off the hook for the time being, it’s still “parents’” (read: mothers’ — you know most dads aren’t reading these guilt-trip “lifestyle stories”) fault if the kids are fat.

Fire one:

When children slim down, it’s because “their families get religion about this and figure out what needs to happen,” said Philip Zeitler, a pediatric endocrinologist and researcher.

Numbers please? Are there actually any slim adults out there who used to be fat kids, and only got and stayed thin because their parents mothers “made them” slim down? (As opposed to fat kids who simply wound up effortlessly outgrowing their fat and thus became slim adults?) Let’s see some hands. No, really, get ‘em in the air way up high, I can’t see you from that far back.

Now, let’s see the hands of all the fat adults whose choosy moms got that ol’ time skinny religion bug and relentlessly pressured them to lose weight, lose weight, lose weight, lose weight, day and night, night and day, until they were blue in the frigging face, and wound up fat anyway, in many cases much fatter than they were as kids. Ah. Thought so. Mr. Pediatric Endocrinologist, try talking to some fat adults who were fat kids someday. It might blow your mind, if there’s anything there left to blow. (I’m reminded of a certain “if brains were dynamite” joke, but I’ll hold off for the nonce.)

And fire two:

“If the mother is eating Cheetos and white bread, the fetus will be born with those taste buds. If the mother is eating carrots and oatmeal, the child will be born with those taste buds,” said Robert Trevino of the Social and Health Research Center in San Antonio.

Most kids learn what tastes good and what tastes nasty by their 10th birthdays.

“If we don’t reach a child before they get to puberty, it’s going to be very tough, very difficult, to change their eating behavior,” Trevino said.

OW. My jaw hurts. Gotta quit bonking it on the ground so much. Which probably means I need to quit reading. Anything. At all. Ever.

Again, where are the damn numbers? Is there a single study that backs up this statement at all? Anywhere? Nah, we’ll just assume that all children love and hate to eat exactly what their moms love and hate to eat, because it’s nice and tidy and gives those idle female minds who are just begging to be told what to do about their kids’ puppy fat something else to try that won’t work any better than the 8,000,003 things they’ve already tried. But it’s…just…so….STUPID. Stupid. Stupid. (Shit, I sound like an Ed Wood film, don’t I?)

Do any of you have the exact same taste in food your mother has? Moreover, did you have that selfsame taste when you were ten years old? I can tell you right now, I didn’t, and don’t. My mother has no sweet tooth. I have a massive one (though I don’t overindulge it as I don’t want to blow up my pancreas). Maybe because I have PCOS (which fosters insulin resistance and sugar craving when untreated, as it was for the first 33 years of my life) and she doesn’t? My mother loves raw onions and green peppers. You could have promised me a flying pony with a tambourine head when I was ten years old and I wouldn’t have touched either raw onions or green peppers with a ten-foot fork. And I still won’t.

C’mon, guys, cough it up. You know the truth. You know this “childhood obesity epidemic” is a bunch of trumped-up hooha, that kids are maybe, on average, ten pounds heavier and an inch taller than a generation ago. Poor children, particularly the children of the working poor who don’t qualify for government assistance, do seem to be in worse health all the time, because their lives and their families’ lives are measurably more stressful, their health care is a joke and their food and exercise options are an even worse joke. (Which is not to say that those who do qualify for government assistance have it great either, but at least they get a little help.) That is the real “childhood health crisis” in America, not the youthful spare tires of middle-class and upper-class kids.

But gaaaah, if we concentrated on that we’d be taking all your fun away by depriving you of the opportunity to bash uppity middle-class-and-richer women for thinking they actually have the right to have lives, who think they actually have the right to eat what they want and not spend every spare moment they have slaving over a hot stove and sitting with their children for five hours at the dinner table every night “making them” eat their kohlrabi. I wish more of these women would see these stupid-ass “lifestyle stories” for the antifeminist, regressive guiltbaggery that they are. They know damn well you can’t “make” kids eat vegetables, that even if you could, that doesn’t mean the kids will carry that habit with them into adulthood, and that even kids who like vegetables often wind up fat.

C’mon, moms, find your inner killer bitch. Reject the guilt. You don’t need it, and your kids sure don’t need it either.

31 Responses to “Do You Love to Eat What Your Mom Loves to Eat?”

  1. Nicole Says:

    “You could have promised me a flying pony with a tambourine head when I was ten years old and I wouldn’t have touched either raw onions or green peppers with a ten-foot fork.”

    I literally have tears rolling down my face after reading that. Well done.

    And as a mom, I appreciate this post even more. Thanks!!!

  2. corinna Says:

    meowser.

    Damn woman you did it again! Brilliant. Spot on. Thank you. And I very much agree that all this talk about a childhood obesity epidemic is anti-feminist. It’s all about guilting moms.

    And thank you fat fu for adding me to your Notes from the Fatosphere. I’m honored to have A Celebration of Curves be listed along with some other amazing and powerful bloggers.

    Keep on keeping on!

  3. kateharding Says:

    I wish more of these women would see these stupid-ass “lifestyle stories” for the antifeminist, regressive guiltbaggery that they are.

    NO. FREAKIN’. KIDDING.

    Thanks so much for tearing this one up. I can’t believe I was so dumb I missed page 2 entirely. Especially since I went over page 1 with a fine-tooth comb, knowing that articles like these almost ALWAYS have something ludicrous tucked in among the logic. No more posting when I’m short on time! But then, I’m glad my oversight inspired this post. :)

  4. meowser Says:

    KH, dumb is the last thing you are. And I think the fact that a major newspaper is letting its readership know about the failures of Childhood Obesity Bullshit Initiatives is major news. You were right to point that out.

  5. Nicole Says:

    P.S. I had to link to this post from my own blog. Hope you don’t mind!

  6. Jess Says:

    “If the mother is eating Cheetos and white bread, the fetus will be born with those taste buds. If the mother is eating carrots and oatmeal, the child will be born with those taste buds,” said Robert Trevino of the Social and Health Research Center in San Antonio.

    And if the mother is scared by a goat during pregnancy, her child will be born with cloven hooves.

  7. Rose Says:

    “If we don’t reach a child before they get to puberty, it’s going to be very tough, very difficult, to change their eating behavior,”

    Totally untrue! The message “reached” me at just about 13. At that time I was a “fat” 5′ tall and 115 lbs girl. But after having my family and even a doctor tell me how ugly and fat I was I was able to starve, speed, and chain-smoke myself to a super-healthy 98 lbs by the time I was 15!

    When I weighed in at 98, the doctor gave me a broad smile and said “You’re weight is perfect! I wish I saw more young women who took such good care of themselves!”

    Yeah, I bet a lot of young women are getting the message, and taking real good care of themselves, just like I did.

  8. meowser Says:

    Nicole: Hell no! Link away!

    Jess: HAHAHAHAHA!

    Rose: You know, I didn’t even go into the eating disorders/drugs/smoking thing here. Obviously that can be a factor in weight change also. But what you said reminded me of a quote from former Yankees pitching coach Johnny Sain that I read in Jim Bouton’s Ball Four: “The world doesn’t care about labor pains. It only wants to see the baby.”

  9. kateharding Says:

    And if the mother is scared by a goat during pregnancy, her child will be born with cloven hooves.

    Jess, LOL! I was trying to construct something that funny in response to your excellent point that this is totally medieval at my blog, and I failed. But you’d already done it!

  10. coyote Says:

    My parents ate terribly. I was the one eating tofu and exploring vegetarianism and delighted in ground turkey in NINETY EIGHT F’ING FIVE, and drank the green tea that the old Chinese woman at the corner store insisted I drink because it would be good for me. And I STILL eat better than they do.

    I’m still fat.

    And the doctors look at two parents with type 2 diabetes and of course immediately assume I eat like they do.

  11. Elusis Says:

    “If we don’t reach a child before they get to puberty, it’s going to be very tough, very difficult, to change their eating behavior,” Trevino said.

    My mother is Indiana Midwest Home Economics cookery all the way. Before I moved out on my own, I never had chili that had more than 3 spices in it: dried onion, oregano, and a bay leaf.

    My mother grew up with parents who survived the Depression, and a mother and aunts who were also Home Economists. They never met a boiled vegetable they didn’t like. I never met one I did. I don’t even boil sweet corn any more.

    My mother ate what was put in front of her. “Eat to live,” that’s her philosophy. I grew up a horrifically picky kid thanks to what I now suspect was a combination of a little sensory integration trouble, that gene that makes celery taste bitter, and a bit of supertaster tendency. The number of foods I will now eat, compared to what I would eat when I was 12 and just about to enter puberty, is exponentially greater. “Live to eat,” that’s my guideline.

    Mother/fetus tastebud transmission my fat ARSE.

  12. Kyley Says:

    meowser, nice post! and Jess, perfect!

    Does anyone here have any resources for the daughters of just those religiously skinny mothers? I could really use some.

  13. Zombie Fat and Tastebud Transmission: WTP? at Shakesville Says:

    [...] Meowser noticed, bless her heart. On page two, we have this: “If the mother is eating Cheetos and white bread, the fetus will be born with those taste buds. If the mother is eating carrots and oatmeal, the child will be born with those taste buds,” said Robert Trevino of the Social and Health Research Center in San Antonio. [...]

  14. Jackie Says:

    I have a link for Kyley. I want to warn first, that this is a somewhat graphic attack on the plastic surgery/cosmetic industry. By that I mean images of fake blood, and other horror film tatics. It’s not terrible, and most of it serves to make the point that we’re telling our daughters to butcher themselves to be beautiful. I just don’t want someone going to the link and being like, “OMG I didn’t know it was like that!”

    Beauty Kit:

    The video was developed by http://www.adbusters.org. Perhaps the mothers or the daughters should pay special attention to the liposuction Beauty Kit fake ad. I always thought in regards to plastic surgery, dramatizing it with horror film techniques would make people realize what they are asking of women. I’m glad adbusters.org took that inititative.

  15. jodi Says:

    hi…. I recently discovered your blog, and it’s fabulous…

    The “if the mom eats Cheetos” doctor is so depressing I can’t begin to describe it.

    Yes, I do like a number of foods that my parents like and to which they introduced me young [Indian food, hot dogs, other exciting things]. And, just like you, I have PCOS and a mad sweet tooth… and, guess what, my mom (from whom I DID get the insulin resistance) has NO sweet tooth. Go figure.

    At age 10, I still thought wheat bread was gross and that dill on salmon was grosser; now I adore both. Who the heck doesn’t explore new foods after age 10? And, yes, guess what, I eat more wheat bread and less cool ranch doritoes than I did when I was 10…. and weigh much more.

    Yes, I can take better “care” of myself, and am trying to do so in a healthy way. But the endless guilt-tripping of articles like those does SO much more harm than good.

  16. Sharon Says:

    Are there actually any slim adults out there who used to be fat kids, and only got and stayed thin because their parents mothers “made them” slim down? (As opposed to fat kids who simply wound up effortlessly outgrowing their fat and thus became slim adults?)

    all the fat adults whose choosy moms got that ol’ time skinny religion bug and relentlessly pressured them to lose weight, lose weight, lose weight, lose weight, day and night, night and day, until they were blue in the frigging face, and wound up fat anyway, in many cases much fatter than they were as kids.

    For the record, in my family, my brother and I were both very fat teenagers. My brother was the first type. I was the second type.

  17. meowser Says:

    Sharon, that figures. I do think fat boys have a much better chance, for whatever reason, of winning the diet lottery than fat girls. Which is not to say it isn’t still a lottery. IOW, some people do “win,” but way way way more don’t, that was my point.

  18. totaltransformation Says:

    “You know the truth. You know this “childhood obesity epidemic” is a bunch of trumped-up hooha, that kids are maybe, on average, ten pounds heavier and an inch taller than a generation ago.”

    Been to a local Wal-mart lately. Many of these kids aren’t just overweight, they are obese- obscenely so. And who can blame them when their parents set a horrible example. If you want your child to eat healthy and be healthy you need to model a healthy lifestyle. Many parents don’t grasp this. It’s like telling your kids not to smoke when you are a chain smoker- kids won’t listen unless you lead by example.

    It was one of the main reasons I finally straightened up, faced my own weight problem, and ate my first salad EVER back in February.

  19. Meowser Says:

    Well, bully for you, totaltransformation. A few people, like you, do manage to win the diet lottery and just have it drop right off them with a few minor tweaks in diet.

    But it might shock you to know that millions of us have been eating salad for years, even decades — and no, not with ranch or bleu cheese dressing either — and are still fat.

    And BTW, my mother WAS a chain smoker, and neither my brother nor I has ever smoked.

    And “fat people in Wal-Mart” is a classist trope if ever there was one. I suppose it’s fine to hate on the working classes if they have the temerity not to look properly lean and hungry for the amusement of their “social betters.”

    This is your first warning, I will not tolerate trolling. In the meantime, I invite you to ponder the notion that life isn’t as black-and-white as you’d like it to be.

  20. enchanted_black Says:

    I love doctors who don’t give numbers. It makes me believe them all the more! *sarcasm* My mother and great-grandmother instilled in me a sense of being healthy and eating healthy. And this was even when I was a fat kid. Now I’m a fat adult who’s still living by those values.

    And totaltransformation….”Been to a local Wal-Mart lately”? What kind of comment is that? A back-handed classist one.

  21. totaltransformation Says:

    “Well, bully for you, totaltransformation. A few people, like you, do manage to win the diet lottery and just have it drop right off them with a few minor tweaks in diet.”

    It is an interesting sleight of rhetoric to allege that dieting is a lottery where individual responsibility and choice bear little or no relation to the results achieved. Leaving that aside, I would address your assumption that I won the diet lottery by making a few minor tweaks in diet. I made major lifestyle changes because becoming a healthy father and husband was a high priority. It changed everything from what I hate to when I ate it. I went from zero exercise to engaging in some form of cardio and/or resistance training six out of seven days a week. These are not “minor tweaks,” these are major lifestyle changes- the kind of changes that are essential to becoming healthier.

    “But it might shock you to know that millions of us have been eating salad for years, even decades — and no, not with ranch or bleu cheese dressing either — and are still fat.”

    It isn’t only about eating salad, I chose that as an example of a large change for me since I had never touched one before February (something that drove my wife crazy). But it is only one small part of a new healthy lifestyle. So no doubt you can eat plenty of salads and remain fat depending on your level of exercise and what you eat the rest of the day.

    “And BTW, my mother WAS a chain smoker, and neither my brother nor I has ever smoked.”

    Good, you were able to learn from someone who didn’t set a good example. But would you dispute that parents who set a good example (whether in healthy eating, not smoking, etc.) create a better (and less hypocritical) impression than parents like yours?

    “And ‘fat people in Wal-Mart’ is a classist trope if ever there was one. I suppose it’s fine to hate on the working classes if they have the temerity not to look properly lean and hungry for the amusement of their ‘social betters.’”

    Where does this quasi-Marxist assumption come from? I shop at Wal-mart and have nothing against it. I actually have a rather idealized view of Wal-mart as a egalitarian meeting place where people from all economic backgrounds congregate together in search of bargains.

    I referenced Wal-mart because of its status as a meeting place for the whole community (especially in small towns like my own). And I am certainly not referring to people who do “not to look properly lean and hungry.” I am referring to those walking the not so fine line between drastically overweight and morbidly obese.

    “This your first warning, I will not tolerate trolling. In the meantime, I invite you to ponder the notion that life isn’t as black-and-white as you’d like it to be.”

    You and I apparently have different ideas of what constitutes trolling. But if disagreeing with you meets your definition of trolling, then by all means block or delete my comments.

  22. GirlNamedCarl Says:

    “It is an interesting sleight of rhetoric to allege that dieting is a lottery where individual responsibility and choice bear little or no relation to the results achieved.”

    It’s also the truth. Do a little reading on the actual science of obesity, dieting, body composition, etc. and you’ll find that weight loss is based on a lottery: the genetic lottery. Your weight has no moral dimension, so spare us all the lofty talk of “individual responsibility.”

    Can I get a bingo card here?

  23. totaltransformation Says:

    “Do a little reading on the actual science of obesity, dieting, body composition, etc. and you’ll find that weight loss is based on a lottery: the genetic lottery.”

    Genetics is just one factor, and it is not the determining factor. I would be interested in you could produce any of this “actual science” that shows weight loss is a lottery where individual responsibility plays little to no role.

    Here are some studies that contradict your view.

    Caloric Confusion
    http://www.pbs.org/saf/1110/features/caloric.htm
    “Heymsfield’s patients were keeping food records as part of standard obesity treatment. Despite reporting daily caloric intakes as low as 800 calories a day (a 150-pound person requires at least 1500 calories per day) these patients weren’t losing an ounce of body fat. What was going on?…

    …Though two of his twenty patients actually had slower metabolisms, the remaining 18 were vastly under-reporting their caloric intake. Some people ate twice as much as they recorded and exercised half as much.”

    His conclusion…

    “The root of the problem, then, is a psychological one – a kind of self-deception that, exacerbated by a food-obsessed, sedentary culture, overrides physical fullness cues and allows people to over eat.

    That denial can be so strong may sound depressing to determined dieters. But, according to Heymsfield, what it really means is that people can lose weight and keep it off.”

    These folks swore to their doctor that they were only eating 800 calories a day. They even maintained food journals. But long and short of it, they were really consuming much more and consciously or not, they couldn’t admit it.

    Losing weight is hard work, harder for some than others, but removing personal responsibility from the equation (absent a thyroid issue or actual medical condition) is often just a self-deception and excuse that helps us avoid making serious changes in lifestyle.

    But as I can see I find little agreement (or even civility) on this blog and my disagreement has been met with claims that I am trolling, I shall bid you all adieu.

  24. Jess Says:

    “Here’s a TOTALLY PEER-REVIEWED link to a TV station, now I’m running away so I don’t have to listen to people refute me again.”

  25. totaltransformation Says:

    “Here’s a TOTALLY PEER-REVIEWED link to a TV station, now I’m running away so I don’t have to listen to people refute me again.”

    I would be happy to stay, but it was alleged that I was trolling. I don’t mind hanging out and kicking this around a bit more, the subject is worth it.

    I find it odd that you have a problem with what I posted, yet you don’t express any qualms about GirlNamedCarl’s assertion that lacked any support whatsoever. I was merely putting the ball in her court- an incentive for her to bring some sources to bear.

    “Here’s a TOTALLY PEER-REVIEWED link to a TV station”

    It was a link to PBS, a very well respected network. The author of the study, Dr. Steven Heymsfield, is an obesity specialist at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City (he is also a professor of medicine at Columbia University). In addition, Dr. Heymsfield has received public honors for his research into obesity.

    http://www.nyas.org/about/newsDetails.asp?newsID=161&year=2004

  26. Rose Says:

    This transformer guy shows all the signs of being a classic troll. Such as:

    He never ate a salad before February????
    Suggesting class-bias is “quasi-Marxist”???

    If he’s not a troll, he’s at least a tool.

  27. totaltransformation Says:

    “He never ate a salad before February????”

    As much as my mother and father tried I refused to touch them. My wife tried in vain for several years to get me to partake, but I refused. I finally bit the bullet (or lettuce if you will) and ate my first salad back in February of this year.

    I Don’t see why you have such a problem with that? After all Steak and mashed potatoes were so much more enjoyable. Back in those days I didn’t care what my bad eating habits did to my health. I am keeping my fingers crossed that all that steak hasn’t already left a trail in my arteries.

    “Suggesting class-bias is “quasi-Marxist”???”

    I was responding to two people who injected class into a rather harmless reference to Wal-mart (my favorite store). I added the prefix “quasi” to be polite.

    “If he’s not a troll, he’s at least a tool.”

    Well you certainly are quite the exemplar of civil behavior.

  28. GirlNamedCarl Says:

    (Weird. My post disappeared. My apologies if this turns into a double post.)

    Here are some books to try reading:
    The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos
    Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata
    Big Fat Lies by Glenn Gaesser

    And none of the above researcher/writers are fat, so they should have some credibility with you.

    Speaking of credibility, a DIET DOCTOR (like the one in the PBS link) saying that diets do actually work? Has no credibility at all.

    Also: coming onto a body acceptance blog and announcing not only your contempt for the heavy masses sullying your beloved Wal-Mart but your triumph over fat via “personal responsibility” (surely never tried before by anyone here) is textbook trolling.

  29. Meowser Says:

    Dude, you have obviously NOT read what I wrote here or in my prior post, or taken in a goddamned syllable of it. I already said here that I ate a lot less and exercised a lot more than I used to, plus consumed far fewer sweetened drinks, and that it had made no difference in my weight. And that’s for the last two years, so if it was going to make a difference it would have already.

    You seem stuck on the idea that everyone’s weight will respond to changes in diet and exercise habits the way yours did. It’s simply not true. Losing weight isn’t just “hard work” for some people, it’s impossible, at least not without putting one’s life at severe risk. This is just another variation on “you’re not trying hard enough.”

    Fact of the matter is, you don’t live in my body, and you don’t know how hard I’ve tried. You also don’t know what medications I’ve taken or any other biological processes are going on in my body or how young I was when I first started dieting (age 11, BTW). I am willing to accept your self-disclosure that it was relatively easy for you (and come on, if all you had to do was “start eating salads” and moving around a bit and you got and stayed thin, then for you, compared to most dieters, it was a lead-pipe cinch). If you are going to hang around here I need you to respect my self-disclosure also, and those of other posters as well.

    And incidentally, PBS is for sale too, just like commercial networks are. Don’t kid yourself. Sponsorship is not materially different from advertising.

  30. Meowser Says:

    Dude, you are hijacking this thread. This thread is not about your personal diet and weight-loss testimony. Unless it was your mother who made you eat salad and then the weight just dropped right off you and stayed off — since it’s mothers and their putative influence on their children’s eating habits that are the topic — your “lifestyle habits” acquired in adulthood are not relevant to this discussion. Please stop.

  31. Meowser Says:

    Apologies for the double posts above this, folks. Apparently the first of my last two posts got eaten and I assumed it had gone away forever, but dang if it didn’t show up again!


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