The Playroom: The vacation diet

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Gone fishing. In Maraya Steadman’s absence this summer, please enjoy one of her retro columns, first published in July 2011.

Maraya Steadman

Recently my sister gave my father a book about a new diet based on what our prehistoric ancestors ate, the ones with the intelligence of the neighbor’s dog who had a life expectancy of 27.

The book basically says that you should eat what you kill and you shouldn’t eat cheese or donuts or anything else that a grizzly bear wouldn’t eat off the nearest bush. Halfway through the first chapter, I decided to come up with my own diet.

A Mom’s Guilt-free Diet for Summer Vacation

If you are camping, you should forget vegetables exist. If you are not camping, try to eat vegetables every day. Included on this list are corn chips, veggie strips and potato chips, french fries, potato salad, baked beans and green things, such as Jell-o and popsicles.

Dairy is expanded to include Hershey’s chocolate syrup, which contains 7 grams of calcium per serving, and coffee, as long as you load it up with cream or nondairy creamers, which are actually made with corn syrup but have a dairy-like name on the label.

Margaritas are fruit. Fruit snacks and anything else with fruit on the label are also considered fruit, even if the label says “Froot.” Fruit is also fruit. Fruit from the farmer’s market that costs more than the fruit from the most expensive grocery store on Earth is double-fruit.

Whole grains are great, but so what. However, breakfast cereals should be made with real sugar. The only reason I include that rule is because breakfast cereals that actually advertise they contain real sugar on the front of the box make me laugh, and tey should be eaten over ones that aren’t as funny.

You may not eat rattlesnake, emu or anything else you see at the zoo. You may eat ice cream, hot dogs and deli meats, which are all accessible protein sources.

Some foods have absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever and should be eaten only when nobody is watching you, such as the chocolate bars you bought for the kids’ s’mores.

Any time you manage to fill a garbage bag with clothing or toys from your children’s room and get rid of it while they are at grandma’s house or summer camp, you get a free day to eat whatever you want, as long as you stand in the kitchen and lick it off a spoon.

Smoothies should not be made with coconut milk, chia seeds or anything else that won’t grow in Minnesota.

Salad bars without iceberg lettuce, shredded cheese and at least three mayonnaise-based salads are a waste of money.

The limit on picnics is three per week because after that it’s just not as much fun, unless you buy fried chicken. Fried chicken is always fun.

The limit on eating cheeseburgers for lunch and dinner is three consecutive days. Cheeseburgers are not for breakfast, unless you are camping. If you are camping then you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want it, especially if you are camping in Minnesota and you find it on the nearest bush or it’s a four-legged beast you spear through the head with a crossbow.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at