My friend and her very adorable baby were visiting me recently, and when we get together I always learn something new about the wonderful world of parenting.
This tidbit is worth sharing: my friend’s pediatrician has advised against giving the baby Cheerios. I was dumbfounded. I mean, every parent I’ve ever known gives their kids little plastic containers of Cheerios to carry around at all times. Really, I thought that’s what separated us from the lower primates. Whole grains, little Os, what could be wrong with that?
So you’re going to love this. The problem with Cheerios, according to my friend’s pediatrician, is that they are a “gateway cereal.” Huh? A “gateway cereal?” Yes, apparently Cheerios are just the starter pack; the introductory level to much more serious and dangerous cereals. So one minute your adorable toddler is shoving handfuls of Cheerios into her mouth, and the next thing you know she’s huffing Count Chocula behind a dumpster in a seedy part of town.
From there it’s just a matter of time until your little sugar junkie will be stealing your car keys and peeling off into the night to do some serious Dairy Queen with her friends. I’m talking about that hard chocolate shell stuff, folks. She’ll need a fix, and she’ll need it bad.
Look, I get it. We’re the most obese country in the world; Americans love their sugary, fatty, processed foods. I myself am an enthusiastic consumer of native food such as M&Ms. But I think the Food Police are getting a little out of hand now. I understand moderation in the sense that I’ve seen other people practice it. I’ve also known people who will eat nothing but organic sheafs of whole wheat washed down with kale juice, and they do it with an annoyingly superior attitude. That’s just as extreme as living on milk chocolate and diet soda, right?
As a country, we’ve been through one nutritional fad after another. When I was a kid, everyone seemed to think margarine was the answer to all our problems. Yep, ditch the butter and pick up the poly-un-re-double-saturated dairy-free oil combined with modern chemicals, and bam! Good to go. Well, it turns out nobody knows what exactly is in margarine, but whatever it is, it ain’t good.
Bread has been bad for us, then good for us, then bad, then good again through countless cycles. Now there’s just a complex set of instructions for finding bread that is really made from whole grains. I can’t keep up with it all, so if it tastes good, I assume it’s bad for me. Eggs too were good, then bad, then good again. We thought for a while that soy was the answer to all our problems, but alas the jury is still out on soy. I enjoy almond milk, so there is no question that will turn out to be bad eventually.
And gluten…when did gluten turn in to something bad? I didn’t get the memo. I like gluten, as far as I know. Isn’t that what makes the tasteless cardboard bread at least chewy? Ultimately none of it matters, because we’re all eating genetically modified mutant food that looks like what we used to eat, but isn’t even close.
But this is it. This is where I draw the line in the sand. At Cheerios. Because if good, honest, hard-working Americans can no longer safely feed their children Cheerios, what’s the point of it all?