This week I walked by a poster for the new kid’s musical in town, Pinkalicious. It’s based on a popular children’s book about a girl who loves pink and cupcakes so much that even when her parents tell her to stop eating pink cupcakes she continues to do so and eventually turns the colour pink, in the end she has to go to the doctor to have her “pinkitis” cured. Her doctor orders her to eat as many green vegetables as possible and soon her skin color goes back to normal and everyone is happy. At first glance I thought I would take my daughter to see this musical. I like pink, cupcakes, musicals, and the ticket prices are reasonable. What’s not to love? Before I purchased the tickets I went to the bookstore to read Pinkalicious. The pictures were cute and so was the story line but something about it just didn’t sit right with me. On my walk home it hit me. The obsessive way that the little girl eats her cupcakes and then eats her vegetables reminds me of the way an over eater who is addicted to food eats. I have struggled with over eating my whole life and whenever I go through a rough patch my therapist asks me, “Are you eating with hunger and fullness?”. My therapist urges me to eat when I am hungry and to eat slowly so that I can feel when I am full.
The moral of Pinkalicious is that children shouldn’t eat tons of sweets and that they should eat lots of vegetables. While this is a good message I feel like the story misses out on an opportunity to teach children about moderation and balance. When the heroine of Pinkalicious eats a lot of vegetables to get better she is still over eating because she is using food to fix her problem instead of using food for the only thing it can really do… fuel her body. Eating tons of vegetables after you have eaten tons of “unhealthy” foods doesn’t magically make you healthy; having a varied diet and consuming a moderate – not too little, not too much – amount of food at meals that consist of vegetables, fruits, proteins, and yes even cupcakes, does, however.
I wish eating a nutritious and balanced diet was as simple as it is in Pinkalicious. I also wish we could all go to a doctor and be told to do one thing and be cured of our “Pinkitis”, “Chocolitis”, or “IceCreamitis”. Unfortunately, real life is much more complicated. That’s why instead of teaching our kids that the only way to fix a day of eating too many sweets is to eat just as many vegetables, we should be teaching them to enjoy all kinds of food, and healthy eating habits, so that they can have their cupcake and eat it too… without turning pink in the process!