Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rich=Rich Diet?

Here's a very off-normal-topics rant for you: I found this article in the New York Times today quite interesting. As this link will be archived in a few weeks and require a paid subscription to read, let me write a précis:
Nannies are up in arms concerning job security, personal values and socioeconomic eating habits with regard to what they feed to their employers' children. Basically, what was the healthy norm a few years ago for all--and remains the healthy norm for what I feel are normal people--has been trumped by the need to provide children, especially those of wealthy parents, with never-can-be-too-healthy foods as early as infancy, foods which most nannies wouldn't bother to feed their own children on a regular basis because of personal values, cultural values or cost-prohibitive pricing.
So why do I take personal interest in this article--three reasons:
1. I am somewhat of a health nut.
2. I love any article that attempts to claim that childhood obesity is blamed on foods as opposed to the need for children--mostly in suburban and rural areas to get off their collective behinds and walk more.
3. it conjures up memories of dealing with nannies and their employers during Camp Trucking, my summer door-to-door camp baggage delivery job-on-the-side.
I will refers to each of these are simply "points (1), (2) and (3)" as this rant continues.
Let's talk about the socioeconomic differences in eating habits as the majority of disparity over personal and cultural differences, because even among wealthy parents there are personality clashes in food consumption, to be followed up on later. I can't agree more with the NYT article, which attempts to remain impartial, but keeps hinting at the socioeconomic disparity. Simply put, to use hot dogs as an example, nannies, who make pennies compared to their employers are more likely to buy store-brand or name-brands, i.e. Oscar Mayer, Ballpark, Nathan's etc. when they're on-sale--not some $5-a-pack Healthy Choice or even higher costing organic brands. To add to the craziness, even the healthiest of hot dogs are not good enough for wealthy employers' children (or themselves).
But unfortunately the food craze doesn't end with hot dogs--it goes as far as baby foods, with nannies meeting criticism for not serving the healthiest of brands to their employers' children. Are you kidding me?! Talk about knawing at the long-held notion that baby food, American at least, is some of the healthiest food somebody at any age can eat regardless of the brand! I mean, sure, some foods are definitely higher in sugar and calories content than others, but brands--miniscule differences.
Quite frankly, to bring up points (2) and (3) I find it ironic that these spoiled, wealthy children, many who have pre-teen weekly allowances that rival than nannies' salaries and who may step foot in Esteemed Ivy League USA having never ironed their own shirt or slacks or even emptied a cup of detergent into a washing machine could have imposed on them such rigid eating standards. It seems to beat to death this fear perpetuated by many, including the otherwise excellent Former President Bill Clinton, that good nutrition is 99% the deciding factor for whether or not today's youth stay thin. So much is this health craze, fueled by fads such as the Atkins, South Beach and Subway Diets, that vending machines in most public schools have all but eliminated the healthiest of snacks, sodas and fruit juices, and many parents, especially wealthier ones, have followed suit in their own homes, at least as far as in normal consumption. And herein lies the problem. In these wealthy homes where "fatty" and "sugary" foods are available put off-limits during the time that the employers--parent or parents--are home, nannies are facing the increasingly tough balance of obliging the needs of the employers' children to have a taboo snack versus the employers' wishes to strictly regulate their children's eating habits. Add to that this anonymous nanny-reporting blog, first linked from the NYT article, where spineless parents and even other nannies are venting about not only catching nannies feeding their employers' children "wrong" foods, but also being inattentive to the children's concerns in public, and you have a recipe, pun intended, for disaster. For, opposite this tattle-tale blog is the cry of nannies that, concerning foods and childcare, there really is no set standard--and can't be as every employers' personality is different. Simply stated, as much as nannies are getting in trouble for not being overly attentive to the children's eating habits and other needs, they are also getting into trouble for not giving enough leeway. The Times article finishes up with a nanny who was let go for not obliging the children's request to have a "snack on the side." So I think it's time to drop the bomb on these insane parents with point (1):
I weigh approximately 193-197 pounds depending on the time of day, and, because much of it is muscle, don't look much heavier than 170. I have fond memories of birthday parties and get-togethers as a child eating endless amounts of boiled, pan-fried or broiled Oscar Mayer and Nathan's hotdogs and regular potato chips and washing it down with "empty calorie" fruit juices and whole milk. Today I eat as much if not more fried foods and sodium than I did as a child, despite my slowly metabolism. Yet the only problem I've had in the last two decades, beside a handful of cavities that didn't appear my late teens mind you, is a slightly-above-average blood pressure, and by slightly-above-average I mean 3-5 points depending on the time of day. Know why: I work out regularly. I use public transportation regularly, which, aside from the enumerous environmental benefits and personal benefit of time management, neither of which this rant is really about, forces me to do considerable walking and occasionally running to catch a bus or train. I also eat well-balanced over the entire course of the day and in moderation. I'll follow those four pieces of fried chicken with a whole bowl of broccoli, the usual footlong kielbasa-dog at 11 with a healthy bowl of soup at 1. That's what it takes for you and your children to stay health--not some crazed need to clamp down on eating habits without taking into account other factors which are contributing to the weight and well-being of you and your child. And guess what: I come from a long line of family living well into their 90's who eat just like me.


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