For healthful eating, do as I say, not as I do?
There sure are lots of prominent people pushing to get kids to eat more healthfully these days. Jamie Oliver, Rachael Ray and, of course, First Lady Michelle Obama have recently mounted campaigns of various sizes to encourage young people to learn to make better food choices.
The problem with being a public figure and commenting on what other people should and shouldn't eat, though, is that your every statement is open to scrutiny, your own habits subject to challenge and your own body under the spotlight. You can't afford to be, say, chubby and go around talking about how other folks should lose weight.
I've been thinking about this a lot as I wrote this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column about Stafford, Va. teenager Nina Gonzalez, a vegetarian who worked with her school district to get some vegetarian items added to the lunch offerings. She's a great example of someone who both talked the talk and walked the walk.
Just after I'd written that story, I read an interview with Michelle Obama in the May issue of Good Housekeeping. Mrs. Obama talked with GH editor-in-chief Rosemary Ellis about her signature campaign against childhood obesity, noting that it's good to "teach a kid that a carrot is important" but that knowledge is useless to a child who "lives in a neighborhood where he has to commute five miles or 10 miles to buy a carrot." She then answered another set of questions about how she would celebrate Mother's Day:
Michelle Obama: It's my day. I get to do what I want. I get to choose what we have for dinner, or if we go out...
Rosemary Ellis: So what do you choose?
MO: It could be fried chicken...fried chicken and french fries or greens or macaroni and cheese. But it could also be burgers and fries, or it could be...
RE: I see a pattern here: fries.
MO: Yes, I've go to get fries in there!
On the one hand, I give Mrs. Obama credit for her honesty, and I know that someone such as herself, who clearly maintains a healthful diet, can indulge in deep-fried, fat-filled foods on a special occasion.
But think of the message that sends about that carrot: She wants kids to learn to crave carrots, but her list of favorite foods doesn't include one. Instead, it's kind of a list of anti-carrots.
Am I the only one who thinks this matters? Register your opinion by voting in today's poll and commenting below!
Jennifer LaRue Huget
May 18, 2010; 8:53 AM ET
Categories: Family Health , Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity , School Nutrition , Teens , Vegetarianism
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