I usually conquer the bulk of my grocery shopping on the weekends, due to the fact that I usually have more free time and grocery shopping after working all day is really the last thing I want to do. This Sunday, I overheard a particular conversation of sorts between a daughter and her mother. The daughter was probably around 6 or 7, a skinny little bean pole of a girl. The mother, a thin, slender woman. The little girl asked her mom ‘am I eating healthy enough, mom? am I making good choices?’ To which the mother responded, ‘yes, you’re eating very well. good choices.’ The girl then responded, ‘because I can go on a diet!’ Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) I didn’t hear the mother’s response. However, I didn’t really need to in order to find this really, really disturbing and unsettling. So much so that I parked my cart right there in the cereal aisle, and texted my best friend, just to vent.
So, I will recap on why I felt the need to vent about this particular conversation.
First of all, some may not even scoff at this conversation that I overheard, and I think even that alone is sad. I will start my little tirade by starting off with the most unsettling part…the girl was probably 6 or 7 years old. 6 or 7 years old. It’s sad to even think that a kid this young is so consumed and worried about eating healthy. I’m not promoting parent’s allowing their children to eat all garbage and junk food, but when you’re a kid of that age, you don’t really know what “healthy” and “unhealthy” foods are. You know what you like and what you don’t like. A lot of times, kids would much rather have a candy bar versus a serving of veggies, but they rarely make any correlation to the fact that one is a lot healthier than the other. So the fact that this 6 or 7 year old girl is even aware or asking if she’s eating healthy enough, is just sad.
Now to top that, she said that she would even be willing to go on a diet! Seriously?!?! In my opinion, this girl shouldn’t even know what the word ‘diet’ means. Again, I’m not promoting children to just eat whatever they well please, but I definitely do not condone children having to be on a ‘diet’.
It also brings me to my next point. What type of an environment is this little girl growing up in? The fact that she asked her mom if she was eating healthy enough and was throwing around the word ‘diet’ like she was talking about playing outside at recess, has me pretty convinced that at the very minimum her mom probably talks pretty regularly about eating healthy and dieting. Which again, talking about eating healthy isn’t a problem in and of itself. But instilling such an attitude and mindset about what foods are ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ at such a young age is scary to me. It makes me sad to think (and I truly hope this isn’t the reality of the situation) that her mom is strict with the girl about what she allows her to eat, or even worse, tells her that she needs to diet. First of all, this girl is a skinny little thing, and hasn’t even begun to develop at all yet. Secondly, even if she wasn’t a string bean, children shouldn’t be made to feel like there is something wrong with their weight or as if they need to change it. Again, I’m not promoting obesity or being unhealthily overweight. Yet, there is a big difference in being just a little pudgy and being told you need to diet or lose weight.
I think that parents should set a healthy example for their children. They should teach them to eat balanced meals. Yet also allow them to indulge, too. But to be told or made to feel like you need to diet or watch ever so closely each morsel of food that you consume, that’s really a sad thing. To be quite frank, it makes me really worried about what will become of these young children. The media alone is enough to make anyone, regardless of age, obsess about their weight, their bodies, the food they eat, etc. Even more impressionable are children and youth. But to hear it at home, to be faced with it at home and to hear it coming from your parents, the people you learn the most from, that’s dangerous territory.
Eating disorders are occurring more and more in younger individuals. It breaks my heart to see such young ones weighed down with these issues and problems. It’s as if childhood innocence and purity is no longer realistic. Children can no longer be…children. They are forced to grow up too fast and are thrown head first into a world that is so corrupted by the media that it instills such negative, self-loathing ideals into young ones. Gone are the days of just being a carefree child.
I think back too, to a time where people didn’t even know what calories were. Yes, that’s right. People actually ate foods without knowing how many calories, how much fat, and how many carbohydrates were in what they were eating!
And to think now so many people need to know or are able to know exactly how many calories are in anything they eat. What changed in our society to make people become so obsessed about food, weight, body, shape, etc. Years ago things like this just didn’t matter. Is it because there were more real things to worry about and focus on? Is media the culprit? I honestly don’t think it’s the cause, but it definitely has fanned the flames and made it spread to the extent it’s at now. But what really changed? In the past people would drink whole milk, eat beef, have full-fat foods and yet being overweight was a much rarer thing than it is today. It was probably a hard thing to find someone who actually was obese. Yet now-a-days obesity is so prevalent and on the rise, yet we’re more and more obsessed than ever with calories, having the least amount of calories while compromising flavor with low-fat, no-fat, non-fat, zero fat, fat free, reduced-fat EVERYTHING. It literally seems like there is a “healthier” version of everything!
It’s a sad state that we’re in and unfortunately it just seems like the trend will continue, and will only get worse in time. I truly wish I could go back in time, though, and live in an era or generation when issues like this and obsessions like these were almost non-existent.