Thinking About Food in Trump’s America

I’m still finding it pretty impossible to concentrate on anything other than the election. To be honest, I woke up on Wednesday morning thinking, “why on earth am I writing a book about learning to eat? It should be about paid family leave! Or rape culture!” Or any of the five million other problems that are about to get even more toxic.

But before my agent and editor get too nervous, let me say that I’m still excited to be writing this book. If we’re going to have a President who refers to women who gain weight as ”eating machines,” then it’s important to keep trying to untangle health and nutrition from misogynistic beauty standards. If we’re going to have a Republican Congress who wants to cut funding for food stamps and decimate school lunch programs, then we also need to understand, more than ever, what it’s like to grow up hungry. The choices we make around food are often our most overt and consistent political statement. Shared meals and food traditions unite our families and cultures, but food is also divisive. Ask any vegetarian — and also ask any overweight person who has had their restaurant order picked apart by “well-meaning” dining companions, or any busy mom who has felt the sanctimonious sneer of liberal judgment after buying her kids a Happy Meal. From where I’m sitting, liberals (myself included) lost this election by not taking the threat of Trump seriously, and worse, by not trying hard enough to understand and address the fears of his supporters, even when we disagree with them.

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On Sugar Fixes (and Fixer Upper)

Ice cream

This week, I’m thinking a lot about sugar. It’s almost Halloween, which means all of the (mostly) moms in the online parenting groups I follow have been despairing about how to manage the coming candy deluge. There’s a lot of pressure to make elaborately healthy treats from scratch, or at least buy organic lollipops in order to tempt kids away from the Mini Snickers. Meanwhile, the American Heart Association recently updated their guidelines to say that children under the age of 2 should consume no added sugar, while kids between the ages of 2 and 18 should consume no more than six teaspoons per day.

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When Your Baby Won’t Eat (The New York Times Magazine)

I’m telling the story of how Violet learned to eat (again) in this weekend’s New York Times Magazine. The piece went online yesterday, and I’ve already heard from so many families struggling with the full gamut of pediatric feeding issues. I’ll respond individually to as many notes as I can, but I thought it might be helpful if I did a post of some the resources that were most helpful for us, and may help you too.

Advice for Feeding Any Kid:

  • Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility in Feeding is now gospel in my house. It’s both brilliantly simple and sometimes, very hard to execute. (Can you really trust your child to self-regulate when they’re ignoring their entire dinner, or conversely, eating their body weight in grapes?) But whenever I start to waver on something related to feeding, I come back here and find clarity.

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Meet Virginia.

My work has appeared in more than 50 national magazines, websites, and newspapers including ElleSlateHarper’s and the New York Times Magazine. At the moment, I’m writing a book (called THE EATING INSTINCT, and coming from Henry Holt Books sometime in 2018), about how we learn to eat, and not to eat. If you’d like to learn more about my research, please subscribe to my newsletter, On Eating (And Writing). You’ll get everything that appears on this blog days ahead of everyone else, plus special newsletter-only content about eating, writing, and other fascinating things.

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The story of Violet’s heart. #CHDAwarenessWeek

The story of Violet's heart. #CHDAwarenessWeek

I’ve written about writing this piece before, so I won’t go into all that back story again. But I wanted to share the essay once again, since it’s the last day of Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week. Already, since I first published this piece last August, several more states have passed laws requiring the pulse oximetry screening — which is truly terrific news. But it’s still not required in all 50 states. And even states that have the law on the books may be slow to enforce it — as was the case for us. So if you’re a new or expecting parent, it’s worth asking (and then double-checking) to be sure this life-saving test is performed.

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A Truth Hard to Swallow #feedingtubeawarenessweek

A Truth Hard to Swallow #feedingtubeawarenessweek

Feeding struggles are about so much more than tubes — and unfortunately, these issues all too often go misdiagnosed. Or worse, get classified as “picky eating” and are blamed on bad parenting. Feeding Matters is a great organization that offers a lot of support and resources for families. If you’re concerned about your child’s eating, their Infant & Child Feeding Questionnaire is a great place to start.

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Feeding tubes by the numbers. #feedingtubeawarenessweek

Feeding tubes by the numbers. #feedingtubeawarenessweek

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Would you eat lunch in here? #tubefeedsaremealtimestoo

Would you eat lunch in here? #tubefeedsaremealtimestoo

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Why I accost every pregnant woman I meet. #pulseox #screeningsavelives #CHDAwarenessWeek

Why I accost every pregnant woman I meet. #pulseox #screeningsavelives #CHDAwarenessWeek

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We often heard “no baby will starve herself!” But it’s not that simple. #FeedingTubeAwarenessWeek

We often heard "no baby will starve herself!" But it's not that simple. #FeedingTubeAwarenessWeek

In fact, some babies and young children will starve themselves — because eating is too difficult, painful, or traumatizing. And too often, parents face judgment instead of support. For a full list of conditions that can necessitate tube-feeding, check out the Feeding Tube Awareness Association’s list. (So many other good resources there!)

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