Save the Samoas!
Girl Scout cookie season is back — and so are the diet-obsessed moms who can’t help but make negative and potentially damaging comments, turning what’s supposed to be a deliciously fun learning experience for the girls into a festival of food shaming, one expert warns.
Don’t be one of those people — toxic comments about food and diet could hurt your kid, said Oona Hanson, a parent coach and eating disorder specialist.
Launched from humble beginningin 1917 as a way for troops to finance their activities, Girl Scout cookie season has increasingly come under fire for promoting unhealthy eating and even diabetes, with detractors reportedly feeling more than free to share their opinions with the well-meaning youngsters, Hanson said.
“I think most people agree that’s not appropriate to say to a table of young Girl Scouts,” she added.
Some people aren’t so outright with their comments and instead make “insidious comments that seem like a joke or self-deprecating humor.” Those are damaging too, Hanson said.
For example, insinuating that if you eat the cookies you must go to the gym tomorrow, or you just can’t keep this cookies in your house because then you’ll eat them — not a good idea, and certainly not in front of the girls.
Putting food into a “bad” category can lead to behaviors such as binge-eating or eating in secret.
A kid could eat an entire sleeve of their favorite Girl Scout cookie because they don’t want anyone to know and possibly feel guilty or shameful, so they binge eat to hide the evidence, Hanson said.
But there’s also the thrill that children get when they do something they’re not supposed to do.
“This sort of rebellion [with] these so-called forbidden foods can be all the more alluring and exciting — and can also disrupt a child’s relationship with food,” Hanson added.
Hanson explained that these “gray-area, subtle jokes really add up over time.”
“Children are very concrete thinkers; They think in very black and white categories,” she said, adding that when adults say something is “good” or “bad” for you, “that really gets cookies put into this ‘bad’ category for kids. And this can go a couple different ways. Some kids can become very fearful, wondering ‘Is the food I’m eating good? Is it safe?’”
On the other hand, the kids could “eat it and enjoy it and then they’re like, ‘I’m supposed to feel guilty now.’ They’ve been taught, ‘If you eat this kind of food, you should feel shame or guilt or do something about it, such as try to burn calories.'”
It’s important to keep your issues to yourself around the young Girl Scouts, but if you do, Hanson said not to be so hard on yourself.
“These are default comments; We didn’t invent these out of thin air,” she said. “We’ve been taught to talk this way about food.”
And if you do happen to slip up, Hanson believes it can be a good way to flip the narrative back.
“It’s a great opportunity to say, ‘Gosh, isn’t it a shame that when I was growing up, I was told I should be feeling guilty about cookies? I think that’s so silly. Cookies are delicious, right? Let me get another box.'”
The idea seems to go along with this year’s Girl Scout Cookie theme — “Unbox the Future,” which aims to remove social barriers that often keep girls boxed in, according to a news release from the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA).
“When people buy Girl Scout Cookies, they’re buying so much more than cookies. Every package of Girl Scout Cookies sold puts girls one step closer to making real change in their own futures, communities, and the world,” GSUSA Chief Revenue Officer Wendy Lou said in a statement.
“Girls break expectations through the power of the cookie program and open a host of possibilities beyond the box.”
The lineup for 2024 includes Adventurefuls, Caramel Chocolate Chip, Caramel deLites or Samoas, Do-si-do aka Peanut Butter Sandwich, Girl Scout S’mores, Lemonades, Lemon-Ups, Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs, Thin Mints, Toast-Yay!, Toffee-tastic and Trefoils.
And if you do have actual dietary restrictions, there are cookies for anyone who is gluten-free, vegan, kosher or halal.