Creating a program and a book that encourages children to choose (healthy) snacks puts me in a vulnerable position. I often feel my food choices are quickly criticized by those who misunderstand what Snackster Sam is all about. Family and acquaintances have questioned if food I eat are really Snackster Sam approved, but their comments tell me they haven’t read the book....
What Snackster Sam is not:
Here’s the thing... I’m prepared for and resilient to these comments. But for some children and teens, negative comments about food choices can lead to eating disorders and depression. In fact, I have witnessed this and was guilty of being the person making negative comments.
The consequence of food shaming
In high school and college, I had friends (men and women) suffer from eating disorders guised as healthy weight loss diets. Most would workout frequently and looked strong, but they were actually starving themselves. I had already been passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, but watching my friends live with this painful disease and even be encouraged by myself, family, and friends (it seemed like they were healthy after all) completely shifted my perspective on what it means to be healthy.
It’s important to understand being healthy does not mean being skinny or having big muscles and no body fat. Being healthy should mean you are living a lifestyle which will extend your life... shouldn’t that be your ultimate goal? I often say health is a journey, and there is always room for improvement. It should be a commitment to yourself and for yourself.
This is why it’s so important to stop making comments about what somebody is eating. Snackster Sam was created with this in mind! I can tell if someone hasn't read Snackster Sam’s Big Adventure, because his mission is not about food shaming. Snackster Sam is offered many snacks, and he does not say any are gross or bad... he’s just looking for the BEST snacks! I have studied childhood obesity and related topics for over a decade. I understand how talking about food, weight, and health can cause body issues in children and adolescents. According to National Eating Disorders, risk factors for eating disorders include negative comments about food, childhood eating conflicts, and societal pressures. A comment made to someone can have severe negative effects, even if it doesn't lead to an eating disorder.
What Snackster Sam is:
So let me ask you, is that comment about what someone is eating really worth it?
Has this happened to you or did you suffer from an eating disorder? How did you handle it? Tell us in the comments below! Your comments help us learn and grow together.
Learn more about Snackster Sam in the lovable, rhyming children's book that helps kids.
Danielle is the mother of two and creator of Snackster Sam. She has been concerned about healthy habits and nutrition for over a decade, and conducted an award-winning scientific study on portion control. She created Snackster Sam to make eating healthy more fun for parents and children. Learn more about the mission here.