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The Supermom's Little Helper: The Backstage of Family Food Narratives

Sat, August 12, 4:30 to 5:30pm, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Floor: Level 5, 520A

Abstract

Middle-class American mothers are often saddled with the vast majority of food provisioning work for their families. As nutritional advice has tackled the rising rates of obesity and Type II Diabetes over the past couple of decades, mothers find themselves overwhelmed with the moral obligation to feed their families correctly, meeting individual needs and wants of family members but without sacrificing healthfulness of family eating. In a study of middle-class families and their food consumption practices, we and our team interviewed 37 parents and 24 tween or teenaged children to discover how the veneer of healthy eating holds up in daily life. We found that mothers were hard at work trying to create healthy eating habits in their children, but that this was tiring work. They invented several ways of making their rules more “livable,” including hiding food either from their children or for themselves or both. This type of understanding of the social contexts of family life helps us to understand how nutritional advice may often fall short of producing marked changes in eating habits.

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