I have spent years having conversations about what children eat with their parents and caretakers, and this certainly isn’t the first time I blog about a topic that is so dear to me. When it comes to eating habits, acceptance of new foods, developing habit of choosing and willingness to eat more vegetables, fresh fruits, and “healthier” food choices is definitely possible for the majority of children who do not have medical conditions that are associated with true oral aversion. Such conditions include being born extremely premature and not being able to eat by mouth, having severe oral aversion or trouble swallowing from a complex medical condition, severe autism or developmental delay, etc. For medically healthy American children, my observations have been that our children are often not raised to eat “well” and healthy due to what they are exposed to at school and at home.
This article is encouraging and we need more non-profit organizations that are passionate and can partner with schools to give children opportunities to be exposed to healthy foods that they may never be given at home. Not surprising it was a charter school that partnered with FoodCorps and not a public school, charter schools perhaps are more forward thinking and less restricted by “budgets” compared to public schools. What caught my attention in this article is the following: by making children have a taste challenge comparing two kinds of butternut squash soup, having their opinion count, enter their “vote” using iPAD (technology), they were happier and more engaged in the activity, and accepted this awesome option instead of french fries and chicken fingers.
Children have innate curiosity and joy, and they LOVE playing games and competing. It’s the adults in their lives and the society we live in that currently prioritizes margin over health and how “busy” we are, hence food and eating habits are usually not prioritized, which results in few opportunities where we teach children from a young age the habit of expanding their palate and trying various fruits and vegetables.
As we enter the new year, despite taking pride in what a great “cook” I am and us eating home cooked meals at least 5-6 nights per week, my husband, Dave, and I sat down and discussed how to “up” our plan for 2020. Come April 17th, I will be 50. Wow, the big “5-0”. I have reflected on this “milestone”, with the main reaction being that if I were to live to 100, whew, I am at the half way point. If I were only to live to 75, then the end is approaching, slowly but surely. Worst, if my life were to end in a few years, I am simply not ready and want more time to see my daughter, Claire, grow up, to share with Dave, to travel with both of them, and to love others and continue my work trying to help improve children’s health. The reason we sat down yesterday and planned out our mostly vegetarian meals this week, is the commitment we made to once again decrease red meat consumption, decrease sugar consumption, be very mindful, and increase more grain and vegetable intake. Yes, farro and wheatberry are in the running to be my new best friends! Same as beans and quinoa, even though I didn’t grow up eating them and none of these foods are in the Asian culture.
I want us to have fun, encourage Claire to taste various new recipes and foods and hopefully inspire her to continue expanding her palate and awareness of so many wonderful healthy food options before she leaves for college (4.5 years, but who is counting)!
As I saw a photo of myself in a bikini from last week in Mexico, wow, I fully embrace and accept that my “muffin top” (very large muffin that grew over the last few months) is a result of a combination of every time I ate in a way that wasn’t healthy, or made “bad choices” knowing they are bad for me, like the many evenings of giving in to my cravings for chips. Sugar belly and fat belly don’t happen by themselves, and even as a health advocate and champion who knows the information, I too struggle with my own inner voice demons that justify why I gave in and ate way too many Doritos or Ruffles!
I have decided that I am worth the fight, that my muffin top needs to go and I have just about 3 months to do this! I want to be able to say at 50, I am stronger, healthier, and feel beautiful inside and out because I am doing my best to make it so. Bikini or no bikini! I will be doing more planks, I already went to gym several times while on vacation, and I will focus on making sure I don’t need to buy new pants (tried on 3 pairs this morning and all were too tight around the waist!). I want my husband to know that I will keep myself in shape for him, because he deserves a wife that’s healthy and won’t be burdened with because I didn’t take care of myself.
It’s not about my weight, it is about my self-respect, gratitude for my life, and how much I love my life and those in it. I want to stay healthy, medication free and not need doctors or hospitals.
May 2020 be a year of eating well, eating healthy, and eating adventurously!