A friend of mine mentioned that she'd been reading The NDD Book by Dr. Sears, and so I put it on hold at the library. It had been a few years since I picked up one of his newer books, and I was curious.
Oh my goodness, I am not a fan.
He says NDD stands for "Nutrition Deficit Disorder." I think it's actually "No Detente! Destruction!" This book is undiluted biblio-napalm in the Mama Wars, because in it Dr. Sears separates the "pure moms" from the rest of us. He tells us we can know we're on the road to pure mom-hood if we hurt inside when we see a child -- not our own child, any child -- wolfing down a Twinkie (p. 68).
And do you know what? If that's what it takes to be a "pure mom" in his view, then I am going to wallow in my impurity. Because really? I should get bent out of shape if someone else's kid enjoys a Twinkie? I'm supposed to be opinionated about other families' food choices?
It will not cause me inner pain if your child enjoys a Twinkie.
I will not strike you from the guest list if you don't feed your family wild-caught salmon twice a week. (Page 14 tells us that pure moms associate with pure families, so they can all eat 12 servings of produce a day (really! 12! who does that? 9 is hard enough!) -- with a side of smugness.)
If you are kind enough to care for my child while I am away, I will not excoriate you for offering mainstream snacks -- like, say, Ritz crackers. Relationships with extended family/friends/babysitters are complicated enough without adding in demands that they stop sabotaging my child's health with those evil sleeves of crackers.
I am so glad that this book was not in print when my oldest child was little, because I would have used it to hold myself and the mothers around me to an unreasonable standard. I went through a pretty hardcore stage in which my pantry contained no white sugar, no white flour, and no white rice. Instead I had a case of tempeh and ten pounds of blueberries in the freezer, and CSA vegetables overflowing the crisper drawers. Strangely, I cannot say that my children's health and well-being have deteriorated since then, despite the -- gasp! -- chocolate chips in the pantry and the ice cream in the freezer.
One of my longstanding hesitations about Dr. Sears is his tendency to overstate the implications of correlational research. You've all seen this cartoon, right? It's natural to look for causal relationships. It's also terribly easy to get it wrong when you look for causal relationships, sometimes with painful consequences. If your child has autism, it's unlikely that a little more wild-caught salmon would have rendered him neurotypical. If your neighbor's kids are annoying, it's probably not just because they need more vegetables. If you wrap up your kid's identity in a circumscribed set of food choices (we're instructed to say things like "In our family, we don't eat candy because it can make us sick"), what happens when he discovers that he really REALLY loves candy?
I am 100% convinced of the need for more n-3 LCPUFA in American kids' diets, and 100% convinced about giving kids opportunities to enjoy whole foods frequently. But OH the hortatory tone of this book just doesn't work for me, because I'm also 100% convinced that sanctimommies do more harm than good. Does the world need more Judgmenta McSmuggersons expressing their concern that you put M&Ms in the oatmeal cookies? I think not.
If you are looking for a book on feeding your family, try Ellyn Satter instead. If you've been reading Dr. Sears, you might need to brace yourself for the part where she tells you that Tuna Helper is okay.
Have you read The NDD Book? What did you think?