“We get nutrition advice, but that’s not the same as eating advice,” said Rebecca Saidenberg, a Manhattan mother of a 16-year-old girl, referring to child-rearing tips. She said that as her daughter went through puberty, she worked particularly hard to encourage healthy habits — balanced meals, restrained portions — in the hopes of minimizing the chances of a weight problem that might follow her daughter through life.
At the same time, Ms. Saidenberg wanted to push back against “a trend of treating food like medicine.”
“I don’t like that,” she said. “There are a lot of psychological pleasures that come from sitting at a table and enjoying a meal.” She doesn’t want her daughter deprived of those.
So she didn’t despair when the teenager recently returned from a summer trip to Italy during which, it was clear, the joys of gelato were fully explored. But she did get herself and her daughter a membership at a local gym, where they go together.
In my conversations with Ms. Saidenberg and other parents, I was struck by just how much thought they had given to coaxing their children toward sensible eating and away from extreme indulgence or self-denial. They clearly saw that as a parental responsibility akin to giving a child a first-rate education.
But their prescriptions and beliefs diverged, illustrating the elusiveness of a ready consensus about what’s most effective.
If you haven’t had a chance, check out Bruni’s piece about his own issues with food and disordered eating here in his piece, “I Was A Baby Bulimic” from July. He also has a memoir called Born Round that sounds pretty interesting.