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peer pressure to eat junk food

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Apr 11, 2008

Tonight my  14-yr. old  son Kincade was reading a newspaper comic called “A Doctor, A Lawyer, and A  Cop” and started laughing, handed it to me.

The kid is saying, “But PLEASE, Mom, you don’t understand how important it is for me to have a pair of new sneakers.”   The mom replies, “Or what?! Your friends might see you as someone who is indifferent to whatever happens to be ‘cool’ from one week to the next?”   The boy, shocked, says, “Oh, my goodness . . . you DO understand how important it is.”

Irony and sarcasm are lost on the boy in the comic strip.   I think  Kincade “gets it,” even though just the day before, we’d had a conversation about why we can’t just eat a lot of junk food like all his friends.   He does get tired of kids saying, “What IS that?!” when he gets his baggie of cut-up bell peppers and pears out (along with  whole-wheat sandwiches).   Even worse are the looks and teasing he gets when he slugs down  a  green smoothie  at the baseball field in front of the guys.

My friend R.J. (26-year old bodybuilder) harangued me for 20 mins.  today about how my son’s masculinity will be at risk if I don’t start feeding him steaks.   R.J. saw  Cade (5’10” and 145 lbs.) when we were all at the gym recently and told him, “Dude.   Anytime you want, give me call and I’ll get you a steak at Outback.   TWO steaks.”

Sometimes the pressure of the larger culture is daunting.   I don’t feel like educating everyone in my path, since most of them aren’t interested anyway.   (So I just joke around with R.J.   I told him  Kincade’s friends have a tendency to quit laughing when  he knocks the ball over the fence or strikes out three guys in a row.)   Also,  when my son does something good (in front of others) despite that good thing not being “mainstream” or “popular,” he may be actually learning some really important life skills that transcend just food.   It’s not like I’m sending him to school with black pants 4 inches  too short,  with white socks.   There’s a POINT to what I’m doing.   I can tell you that some people who were making fun of me 10 years ago are now doing anything and everything I suggest, because they’re sick and tired of being sick and tired.

We just have to remind ourselves that we’re doing this with enlightenment, education, a sense of purpose, and (for many of us) the guidance of prayer and inspiration.   And a sense of humor and balance.   (Still, that  overused saying “all things in moderation” doesn’t mean to eat poisons in moderation–it means to eat GOOD things in moderation.   I have to admit I said this to R.J. when he pulled that one out.   I mean, a “moderate” amount of arsenic is still certain death.)

So my son wants to eat  junk food  in front of his friends?   Awesome.   I can do that.   Today I served hot dogs.   Nobody needs to know that they were veggie dogs on sprouted-wheat buns (both store-bought), with homemade raw sauerkraut made last fall from my garden cabbage!   Chalk one up for  Mom.

Posted in: Parenting, Whole Food

2 thoughts on “peer pressure to eat junk food”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m so glad you blogged about this. As we are trying to change what we eat and get away from refined/processed foods, this is my biggest fear. The fact is we are socialized to eat food…dairy, meat and mostly SUGAR. It seems like I can’t get away from it. Every holiday is overly marketed with candy and my young kids want to be just like everyone else. Luckily they are young enough that I still control what they eat. The other night I went to a graduation party for my husband’s law school and ahead of time he had ordered me a vegetarian meal. It was crazy because in order to get your meal you had to go through the buffet, then ask the servers who were standing at the end of the line to get your meal. They took my plate then I had to stand close to the door so they could return it to me. A few of our friends were staring at me and wondering why I didn’t have a plate when they saw me putting salad and stuff on my plate earlier. I have to say it was kind of embarrassing…not too bad, but I wouldn’t want my kids to feel like that everytime they try and make a different food choice. This aspect of changing our diet is what I think I’m trying to work through the most. For a few minutes on Easter I felt bad that my kids didn’t have chocolate bunnies like everyone else. Until I realized that Easter isn’t even close to being about candy and that my children’s health is a lot more important to me than if they have a silly chocolate bunny. Old habits die hard though. Is there any way to still be part of holiday festivities and still not compromise too much on healthy eating? Thanks for all of the good information.

  2. http:// says:

    That sounds like a pain, the law-school dinner. But a few years from now, somebody you knew from law school will come to you and ask for help changing her diet. And then you’ll have a whole different (and really cool) perspective.

    Health food has come SUCH a long way. You can really get some nice options for the holidays, and make some yummy treats, too. My daughter was telling me in the car today about how, when she was in the younger elementary grades, kids would say, “You don’t eat sugar?” Their mouths would hang open, and they’d look at her with astonishment, as if they had really asked, “How do you survive without arms, legs, and a brain?”

    She would try to explain that she DID have treats, and they’d say, “But they’re yucky, right?” She’d protest and try to explain “naturally sweetened,” but eventually she’d give up. Now, in jr. high, she’s much more articulate.

    When my kids were little, I’d walk around to the neighbors and give them “alternative treats” for my kids before we went trick-or-treating. What a pain that was. Now I just give my kids twenty bucks for their bag of candy, dump it or give it away, and they’re thrilled. A friend of mine skips the trick or treating and takes the kids out to dinner. It’s not depriving them; it’s just a DIFFERENT tradition.

    We do the Easter egg hunts, with candy and everything. It’s stuff like unsweetened carob raisins, though. They love it. It’s more about the hunt and taking pictures and getting a new Easter dress than making ourselves sick on sugar anyway. OH WAIT! It’s actually about the resurrection and Atonement of Jesus Christ. (Thanks for the reminder, Janene.) 😉

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