Eat Your Doughtnut

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An image has great impact. When we consider how research is disseminated, the imagery that accompanies a message can often go farther than the words themselves. So when imagery like this accompanies words like this, the result is perhaps more malicious that the author originally intended.

I’m a breastfeeding mom. I eat the occasional doughnut. I consume the occasional adult beverage. I also eat a metric ton of kale. I don’t shift my dietary regimen to ensure my breastmilk is of top quality. Rather, I consider my daily intake to ensure my own body has the nutrients needed to sustain itself. I do this because I know the mileage I run paired with the milk my body produces requires energy. Because here’s the thing–with the exception of sustained malnutrition or starvation, your breasts and your body are pretty damn good at creating awesome breastmilk.

Now, don’t get me wrong. We’re learning more about the contents of breastmilk, and how the maternal diet may effect it. Years from now, we will have a clearer picture of just what that doughnut does to the milk my breasts produce. But until then, public health campaigns like this do little more than shame women. And until then, if we want to worry ourselves over what is in our breastmilk that might be hurting our babies, we would be better served at pointing our finger at inept regulations surrounding environmental contaminates.

If you really want to get down to it, it is not the doughnut that causes the problem–it is the DDT that has bioaccumulated, nestled away in the adipose tissue my body pulls from to generate the rich, fatty milk my toddler consumes. It is the ingested BPA that coated the containers our food is stored in. It’s the PCBs my body clings to, the environmental contaminants that are everywhere.

But that’s the important thing–they are everywhere. Including my breastmilk. Including that doughnut. And even in a can of formula. We live in a time where contaminants are our baseline. So, we make due–whether than means an extra dose of kale, a pint of breastmilk, or a doughnut.

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