A question that I’m asked repeatedly (by readers, podcast listeners, and social media folk) is some version of: “Do you have something my spouse can read to get on board with this?” (Sometimes replace spouse with parent or babysitter. Mostly, though, it’s spouse and by spouse, they mean “husband.”) And this has been sort of a tricky question to answer because by “this” they might mean the way I approach feeding kids (in which case, Ellyn Satter’s Division Of Responsibility is their first stop), or how to talk about their child’s body weight and growth (this podcast episode or this one might help), or more generally, how to think about food, health, weight, body image and diet culture through a more feminist/social justice lens — or some combination of all of the above.
For a while my answer was read my book. (And you still can and you should pre-order the paperback now!) But The Eating Instinct explores these questions without getting prescriptive. That was deliberate. I’m not a dietitian, feeding therapist, or a psychologist — it’s not my job to tell you how to eat, or how to feel about how your kids eat, or what to do about birthday parties or whether you should do Paleo. (OK, I can answer that last part, just as a human: Don’t. Bread is great.) I’m a journalist, so my job is to ask these questions and then sift through the research and talk to experts who really are helping people navigate these problems day in, day out. Then I report back and tell you those stories — and hope we all find some answers along the way.
This is why I’m thrilled that the New York Times’ Parenting section has asked me to do that for them every month, in a regular column on kids, food, weight and health. So far I’ve written about the Weight Watchers app for kids, why we snack shame, and how to handle Halloween candy (perhaps particularly relevant to your interests this week if, like me, there is still a giant bowl of fun-sized Snickers in your life?). You’ll find them all in the NYT Parenting Feeding & Nutrition section (which is reported by lots of different writers besides me, all of them excellent) or linked here on my website.
So I still don’t have one single thing you can tell your husband to read so he’ll stop carb-shaming your preschooler. (Though he could start with that snack shame piece?) These questions are always about more than the food — they’re about how we use food in a more complex and coded way to talk about which bodies we think are good and which bodies we see as unruly, wrong, and in need of control. But give me a few more months on this beat and I just might have the link or three that you need to help him put it all together.