It only matters what works for you.

It isn’t just french fries.

I am really conflicted about this ad:

On the one hand, I am utterly appalled at what passes for healthy eating in this country. Our food supply is a nightmare. Refined, mutated, depleted, it can be difficult to get adequate nutrition. It genuinely astonishes me how many adults don’t know how to cook. Not even anything fancy, but how to make a meal out of basic ingredients. Add in a low-fat bias and we’re pretty much doomed. Teaching kids how to make a healthy meal and how to enjoy one is an important parenting step that isn’t always getting the attention it deserves, for many reasons, some unavoidable like economic inaccessibility of quality ingredients, and sometimes just because.

So yes, teaching our kids about healthy nutrition is really important.

But this PSA? It’s all about fear tactics, and it leaves out so much.

The blame for weight issues is always assumed to be food choices and nothing else. And that tunnel vision makes me so angry!

Sure, many people eat badly. Plenty of them are thin too, and no one feels it necessary to emotionally manipulate them into self loathing.


That’s right. In my experience (personal and direct from friends) every time a fat person fails at a diet program, they hate themselves. Because ‘everyone’ knows that if you just stick to your diet, you’ll lose weight. So if you don’t lose weight on your diet, it’s a personal failing. The medical profession really compounds this by being condescending and skeptical. Because even though I’m a well educated, intelligent adult, I can’t be trusted to watch my own calorie count. If the diet doesn’t work, I must be lying to myself about what I’m really eating.

I could go on about this for quite a while. I have a lot of hostility on this subject saved up.

But back to that ad.

It shows that poor guy who has been overweight his entire life, and pretty much suggests that he’s fat because his mom fed him fries as a kid. Because it’s the only thing that makes him stop crying.

You know what I’d ask a parent if they said only one food would make their kid stop crying?

“Have you checked in to food allergies?”

The problem with reducing everything to the calories in/calories out model is that there can be a LOT more going on, and it makes life very unpleasant for those who can’t figure out why, and don’t have the time and energy to chase after possibilities. We need society to be a little more open minded about causes and a little less judgmental.

Ok, and feed our kids fewer french fries, that’s true enough.


Comments on: "It isn’t just french fries." (3)

  1. There’s so much more that goes into weight problems. There are health conditions that cause weight problems without making bad choices. And then when you do make bad choices, why? There are so many psychological problems out there, especially in the U.S., that cause us to make these bad choices. Including the enabling of our greasy, fast food society.

    I know what you mean about the diet thing. I would ride my bike about five miles every day in the summer and didn’t lose a single pound. For two summers. It was crazy, and I hated myself for it. People told me it was because I still ate too much, but I was only eat what I normally ate when I wasn’t biking. So, that doesn’t really ring with what you said but it’s still really screwed up.

    And you’re right about the cooking. I don’t know how to cook anything, either. I barely know how to follow a recipe. It’s pathetic, you’re right. Life is so crazy that it’s easier to get the unhealthy foods.

    But, as you said, the issue isn’t just bad choices. There are soooo many factors that cause people’s weight problems and society just doesn’t care. It’s disgusting.

    • I’m always sad when I hear someone hasn’t been taught to cook. It’s such a basic life skill. If you want to learn, I think you can find some great basic skill by watching the Food Network, things like old Alton Brown Good Eats talk about both skills and chemistry. Really interesting.

      When I was a kid I road my bike incessantly too. That didn’t stop me from being a fat kid on a bike. It is so much more than food, and somehow we need to get the medical profession to recognize that.

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. Boy I hear what you’re saying with this. And you’re right. Food choices are certainly part of the equation, but this commercial is shaming pretty much everyone–especially moms and anyone fat. Personal choice is only part of the problem – and it is part of the issue. However, there’s also bad nutritional advice from doctors, societal shaming, and of course, the terrible content in processed foods that they feed to us in schools (as school lunches) and throughout our lives as actual nutritious foods. You’re right. I could go on for hours, too.

    Nice blog. 🙂

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