Raising Teenage Girls Amidst a Sea Of Dietary Confusion…

Apart from my favorite farmer, my three girls are my greatest blessing. In less than two weeks, 2/3’s of them will be teenagers. Our house is a bevy of activity permeated by moments of drama, and decorated by athletic bras hanging to dry on nearly every doorknob.

While raising teenagers is unarguably an adventure, I believe that the journey of raising healthy and confident girls resembles a never ending Iron Man competition. Nagging concerns of being thin, pretty, and accepted butt up against dreams of athletic and intellectual prowess. An internal struggle capped off by an innate drive toward individualism that may conflict with mainstream culture as well as push the dogma perpetuated by parents and mentors.

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The life journey of a teenage girl proves that the road to excellence is never comfortable…

While many of these daily struggles simply come together to create the iconic journey toward maturity, some have become exacerbated by the complex dual between science and politics that make up the history of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. I was two years old in 1977 when the science of nutrition became diluted with the burden of politics. Fortunately my parents shielded me from the ramifications of the new age of political nutrition rhetoric, choosing to instead pass along to me a traditional culture of family meals and a balanced diet.

I grew up in a house where dinner was always a home cooked meal. Meat was the center of the plate accompanied by a vegetable, some sort of starch, and a glass of milk. While my mom was not a fancy cook, her meals were delicious and she taught me how to put diversified nutrients on the table. I learned to equate the basics of home cooking with healthiness, primarily due to my mom’s steadfast commitment to a pragmatic diet approach.

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I do not have childhood memories of other influences (outside of my family) on the topic of nutrition. I cannot say that same thing about my daughters. The web of political influence over nutrition has grown to where it touches their lives daily through school lunches and nutrition education in the classroom.

  • I serve my girls eggs, meat, and whole milk as a part of a balanced diet at home while they are told in school curriculum that these are unhealthy even when blended with fruits and vegetables on the home cooked dinner plate.
  • I preach about the importance of protein and fat as sources of energy and nutrients in the diet while the government mandated curriculum teaches them that eating healthy means a plant based high carbohydrate and low fat diet.

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The result is a conflicted and confused teenager trying to survive amidst a sea of dietary confusion.

The next few blog posts will take a look at both the science and the politics of nutrition. I will examine Nina Teicholz’s New York Times Bestseller The Big FAT Surprise, as well as the current nutrition debate that struggles to surface amidst a 30 year culture of food politics determined to create a one size fits all answer to the diet and health of Americans.

6 Comments

Filed under General, Nutrition (cattle and human)

6 responses to “Raising Teenage Girls Amidst a Sea Of Dietary Confusion…

  1. Dawn

    Amen! Confusing messages for adolescent girls in particular. I was luckier in that I had three boys who ate whatever I put in front of them and never questioned it. 99% of our meals are home cooked with a variety of meats, eggs, poultry, and fruits and vegetables that are grown right here on our small farm. All things in moderation, I say.

  2. Kathy Owensby

    I agree! I look forward to the information. I often wonder when and how parents “lost control ” and government felt compelled to step (butt?) in. As a cow/calf operator, I want the facts out there, too. Keep up the great work!

  3. Kathy Bottrell

    I always say “If eating fat made one overweight, I wouldn’t fit through the doorways”. I totally agree with everything you said in this post. Brains need fat, especially developing brains. And, while avocadoes are good fat, for me they will never replace a marbled steak with a nice rim of fat.

  4. Carol Ingram

    Got that right, Anne. And don’t forget butter, salt and chocolate. Or healthy moderation in all things! (Jim)

  5. Fantastic! I just heard a speaker on this at a grazing conference. He gave us *permission* to eat meat! Not that I needed it, but I’m so surrounded by people telling me not to eat meat, wheat, white eggs, sugar of any type, etc., etc., that it was nice to hear someone say otherwise. He introduced us to “The Big FAT Surprise,” and I need to find a copy to read that. Every so often, I just plain feel better when I have a big ole steak and some green beans and a roll : )

  6. Pingback: Monkey In the Middle… | Feed Yard Foodie

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