The Food Narc 
by Tim Herrera
Tim's Family Room

It’s the smugness that bothers us the most. It’s the way he looks at my wife and me as he spouts out another unsolicited nugget of newfound knowledge in know-it-all fashion. 

“Did you know that an egg is made up of 68-percent fat?”

Yeah, my wife and I know he’s right. But until he’s through with his ninth grade health class, we might have to send our son to live with his grandparents. It is really starting to get annoying.

“Dad, did you know that mayonnaise is pretty much all fat?” he asks.

“Yeah, maybe so but all that fat is neutralized by the lean ham on this sandwich. You’ll learn that in an honors health class some day,” I counter.

“Okay, but did you know how much fat is in the ham, and how much sodium?”

Okay! Enough! We know about the importance of nutrition, health, and good eating habits and all of that junk. But we are getting a little tired of Mr. Health Encyclopedia analyzing every bit of food that we put in our mouths.

“You’re not going to put gravy on that, are you?” he asks.

“Well, what’s the sense in buttering this biscuit if I’m not going to dip it in the gravy and swoosh it around?”

Mr. Health Encyclopedia just shakes his head and smiles. For now, he is our “health conscience.” He comes home every day with some kind of systematic breakdown of the food in our house. We know he’s only looking out for us – his parents – but it’s getting to be unnerving. He could do something else to show his concern for our well being – like make a mortgage payment or something.

“People think they’re eating right by hitting the salad bar, but they’re not. Do you know how much fat is in those salad dressings?”

Don’t know. Don’t care. Well… actually we do care and we appreciate our son looking out for us. My wife and I are trying to be more careful lately. But our son the Food Narc is always busting us. That’s what happens when kids start learning new information and start soaking it in like a waffle soaks up maple syrup. Okay, bad analogy.

It reminds me of when I was in college and in the middle of that one class that all college students take that fills them with total enlightenment regarding the human race. I am talking about, of course, Psychology 101. It is the gateway to illumination.

When I was a freshman, I took Psych 101 (that was the cool name we called it). From the first day of class to the last question on the final, I gorged myself with knowledge about why people acted the way they did and what made them do the things they did. I could analyze anybody and any situation. One college course gives you that kind of power.

“Is my father telling me to ‘shut up’ because he really wants me to shut up, or is he really inviting me to ask more probing questions about relatives in the family who’ve spent time behind bars?”

“If my girlfriend tells me she’s busy on Friday night and I see her with my buddy going into the movies, is that a sign of trouble or are the two of them just bonding?”

Now, I know that Mr. Health Encyclopedia eventually will grow tired of chastising his parents for their eating habits and move on to being the authority on something else. It’s just that his usual comeback following one of his food analyses is: “Of course, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m thin and eat whatever I want.”

I think it’s time for him to have a nice, long visit with his grandparents.

Tim Herrera is the author of “From Wedgies to Feeding Frenzies: A Semi-Survival Guide for Parents of Teens.” For more information about Tim and his new book please log on to

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