• The Meanings of Food and Health

    Posted on November 6, 2015 by in Blog

    by Sinikka Elliott

    What do you imagine when you hear someone say they’re going to reward themselves with a tasty treat? Broccoli? Brown rice?

    Probably not.

    I, at least, imagine a luscious piece of cake or chocolate or a bowl of ice cream.

    In our culture, healthy foods are more commonly associated with drudgery, something we’re obliged to do because it is good for us, whereas unhealthy foods are considered a treat or reward. We convey these messages in very subtle ways.

    For example, we tell children that they have to eat their vegetables if they want dessert. The message is: dessert is a reward for eating those unappetizing veggies.

    I’ve been thinking about the complex health messages that circulate in the United States now that Halloween has come and gone once more.

    Sure we have lots of information about nutrition and healthy lifestyles, but they compete with many more messages about the joys of giving in to tasty food that may not be all that healthy for us.

    Children are also exposed to a vast amount of food advertising. And a great deal of the food being marketed to kids is not terribly healthy. This can make the job of feeding children nutritious food even harder.

    With more holidays around the corner, it’s worth thinking about the complex messages we hear about food and health. While food is sustenance, it also holds deeper meanings. The holidays often bring those meanings out.

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