I was a really picky eater as a child. Because I was obsessed by Popeye, my mum and aunts would put my food in a can to represent spinach and we’d hum the Popeye tune and then I’d happily eat it. ~ Paul O’Grady
Eating healthy foods can be a challenge in my home. While I will readily admit that we are much better than many families I see, we are far from perfect. My partner is a vegetarian who hates vegetables and fruits (but loves bread and cheese) and my youngest has an unbelievable sweet tooth. My oldest and I can take or leave sweet things and seem to have much more self control in the area of healthy eating.
There are a few things that come to mind for me when I think about families and healthy eating – some are more relevant to the adults than the children.
- People feel they “deserve” to have junk food, as though it is their personal right to eat a bunch of garbage, and technically it is. In the end, the only person they are hurting is themselves, yet this is all too common. This attitude is a false attitude and it has to be changed. Only when we truly understand that to eat healthy is a gift and to eat unhealthy garbage is what is “punishment” to us will we be able to really look at food as it is meant to be. Food is fuel for our bodies, period.
- Taste buds. I find that when my girls eat more junk food they want more junk food – it deadens their senses. I find that my youngest, who likes sweets, has taken to NOT liking healthy food the more sweets she eats. When I limit her sweets, suddenly she likes eggs and fruit and other things again. Her taste buds have to be retrained – many of our taste buds have to be retrained. I found that too! When I stopped consuming sugar (about 7 months ago) I craved sugar all the time. Now I find cherry tomatoes and red peppers to be sweet – my taste buds changed when I washed all of the garbage out of my system.
- Will power. It takes at least 21 days to break a habit – I found it took longer with eating junk food and learning to crave healthy food – I think people need to commit to about 60 days before they can really expect the cravings to subside. I used to crave chocolate during pms, now I crave cherries and carrots!
Today, 229 days ’til 40 I challenge myself to constantly evaluate the food I am giving my children – am I helping my family to make good decisions? Am I modeling good behavior for my kids? Am I ensuring that they are doing what I say AND what I do? Are you?