Thursday, October 30, 2008

Food Linked to Emotion or Sin

I'm frustrated with of messages that link food with emotion or sin. The one that bothers me more than others is "Fat-free, guilt-free cookies or ice cream..." I remember linking guilt with food at a young age partially because of media and these ads.
We've all heard "Chocolate is my guilty pleasure."

There is a commercial that ran not too long ago for Subway, it said something like this:

"You could eat this hamburger and lose your boyfriend, your self-esteem, etc... (it continued to list the dire effects) or you could eat this low-fat subway instead." It listed several things you would lose from your sinful behavior of eating a hamburger but the two that stuck out at me and bothered me the most were those two. So if you eat a hamburger you will gain weight and that is unworthy for good self-esteem or to retain a boyfriend! Shame on Subway!

I was on a date with my husband this week and at dinner I saw this staring at me from across the table.

There are countless messages similar every where we turn.
The key to combat these ads is:
*Awareness, make your impressionable children aware of the lies behind these statements.
*Never reward your child with food, this tells them that good behavior entitles food, or maybe just certain "treats".
*I'm not saying to become hermits or sequester all media, just be aware and counter these ads with the truth. Ask yourself or your children, "What is this ad trying to sell me?" "What are the motives behind this ad?"
*Never say "Oh, did you have a bad day today? Here are some cookies and milk that will make you feel better."

That leads me to media once again. How many times have you seen on TV the girl that gets dumped by her boyfriend or who has had a bad day, throwing herself on her couch with a pint of ice cream and spoon. The message behind this is infuriating to me. Food should never be linked to emotion or even comfort. It is a substance that is ok to enjoy but not to treat a problem. Binges might surpress unwelcome feelings for the time but this is only a bandaid that will actually only create more problems later. Behind ever binge is an emotional issue. It is no wonder we have learned to cope with trauma by eating... look at the connections we are bombarded with "Happiness begins with dessert."


Micaela L. Hess said...

You make some excellent points here. I used to reward Hannah with treats a lot. But then I read (I think in your book?) that you should not reward with food. So I am trying to do better with that. Thanks for the advice!

Haley Hatch Freeman said...

Thanks for the comment Micaela, there is nothing wrong with rewards like privileges or even a small toy but yeah, treats and food is not a good reward to use. Having said that, you could have 5 kids and use treats as rewards and it may not faze any of them or it might only create a unhealthy food connections in one child. But it is something for parents to be aware of. Thanks for taking it to heart. I know you're a great mom!

Alicia said...

Haley, I love your insight! So often, I think to myself, "I've had a really crummy day, I deserve to eat a ..." OR "Wow, what a great day! I think I"ll reward myself by eating a ..." It is something I need to work on so I don't pass those thoughts onto my children!

Haley Hatch Freeman said...

Thanks Alicia for your comment. I love how you added food as a reward to a good day. Isn't that interesting how we connect food to emotions?