Eating Right Is About Lessons and Logic

Thursday, 25 March 2010 at 5:42 am Pacific USA Time.

I saw some of Jamie Oliver's show the other night. And it looks like he may not be able to get small children to not desire pizza for breakfast, now that they have been given it for so long.

The Today Show does lots of weight loss stories. So many stories talk about how their bad eating started as a kid… usually eating unhealthy food. Many of those stories talk about how parents making them clean their plates lead to overeating later in life.

And I wondered… why do I eat well?

This is one area where my parents did a really good job, and thanks to them. And they are no culinary experts. Jeff loves burgers and cookies. Ellen used to boil everything we ate until it was mushy. But they had good ideas about food way back in the 70s when I was growing up.

Ellen was a public school math teacher. She saw kids when they first got to school, and saw that they were pretty dumb. Just not thinking. She asked what they had for breakfast, and time after time, it was sugary cereals. She was convinced they killed brain cells, so we weren't allowed to eat them. We ate Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Puffed Rice, and sometimes to really splash out, Golden Grahams. No Lucky Charms, no Frosted Flakes, no Froot Loops.

Jeff had severe caffeine allergies, so everything in our house was caffeine free. Turns out I have the same allergy. But it means we didn't grow up drinking caffeine in every soda as many kids do now. They always bought supermarket brand caffeine-free soda, and we loved it. Once in a while, we splashed out on Sprite. We were not allowed to drink "fruit punch." I mostly drank milk, my sister mostly drank orange juice. I've never broken a bone and she's rarely had a cold. :)

We had a microwave in the 80s but never bought TV dinners or packaged meals. Jeff kept lots of high quality chop meat in the house. I bought mountains of pasta and (admittedly) boxed mac & cheese all through high school. When I came home from school, I got out a frying pan and pot. I fried up ground beef while boiling water for pasta. I ate mac and cheese with beef in it probably every day for years. I was a tennis player, and never put on a pound.

We didn't have microwave popcorn. Ellen made popcorn in a large pot on the stove with oil. We never ate Cheetos or Doritos. We weren't allowed to eat Beef-a-roni. Who needs to when you can boil your own pasta and pour sauce on it? Jeff showed us what happens to a penny left overnight in cola, and asked us to think about what is going on in our stomachs when we eat certain things. We really understood what they were teaching us, and I can't speak for my sister, but I never ate the things I wasn't supposed to when I wasn't home. It just didn't make sense to eat crap!

We did eat some junk. We loved candy bars… my fave was the $100,000 bar. We ate a lot of Milano cookies. We ate a lot of Baskin Robbins (I'm talking in the 70s and 80s). We liked chocolate pudding.

I was never told to clean my plate. I was never told someone somewhere else was starving. But food was never thrown away. How did we do it?

Easy. If we couldn't finish anything… a glass of milk, a plate of food, food in a restaurant, we were encouraged to put it in the fridge for later. We were told to eat until we were full, and if anything's left, just put it in the fridge and eat it later when you're hungry. It ALWAYS got eaten later, so nothing went to waste. But we were never encouraged to eat past the point of what we felt like eating.

I remember going to my aunt's house. She demanded that we finish our milk before leaving the table. We were like no, we'll put it in the fridge and drink it later. She was like out of her mind telling us we had to finish it right then. We fought her on it, and called in my uncle (Ellen's brother). He was fine with us putting it in the fridge and having it later. We thought our aunt was weird for trying to get us to drink something we were done drinking in that moment.

And why do I love many vegetables?

I think it was because we ate a lot of Chinese food. I loved beef with broccoli, which meant I was getting a lot of broccoli. Snow peas. Random stuff. But it was really tasty, so I didn't grow to hate it. I do hate carrots.

We have to hold parents to higher food standards. Parents have to stop feeding kids what's "easy" since it's pretty much empty calories or over-processed foods that can really hurt kids. There is mounting evidence that high fructose corn syrup can cause obesity and all kinds of problems, even when you have less of it than you might have had sugar in something.

We've tried "convenience food," and it's not working. We're over-filling ourselves with chemicals and things that came off factory lines. And then we wonder why there is so much obesity and disease. These aren't accidents. You have control over this. This is not out of control. Take control, and teach and live healthy eating habits.

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One Response to “Eating Right Is About Lessons and Logic”

  1. Tula says:

    Too true! We rarely ever ate processed or packaged foods when I was a kid. Soda was a treat we rarely got and no sugared cereals were allowed other than an occasional box of Sugar Pops (because dad liked them). I think part of the reason my brothers and I like vegetables and eat healthy is because my mom is diabetic and *had* to eat healthy. Also, we had a garden every summer and had fresh veggies all the time. We all learned to cook and even now, we rarely eat TV dinners or prepared foods.
    A third reason is that we were relatively poor and all those prepared and packaged foods cost a lot more than buying the basics and making it yourself. We had many meals of pasta, hamburger, and spaghetti sauce growing up in my house. I think too many people nowadays don’t bother to even try to cook and continue to eat crap with too much salt and sugar. I know people who brag about not knowing how to cook. I don’t really get that. It’s not rocket science, after all, and food tastes so much better when you make it yourself.