Raise up a child…

“When I think of savory, I think of what I wanted to eat as a kid, or rather what my mom wouldn’t let me eat as a kid.”

I’ve been marathoning the Food Network’s “Chopped,” and that sentenced was said by a competitor who talked about how her parents were health-freaks and super restrictive on what she could eat while she growing up. They liked to work out and eat super healthy, and she wanted to make donuts.

I have a few thoughts about this.

First of all, there is a right way and a wrong way to do pretty much everything. Making your kid – now an adult – still resent eating clean and anything healthy is the wrong way. It’s one thing for a kid to not like broccoli or brussel sprouts, but it’s another thing for a kid to want to eat only junk food purely for spite, and that spite to continue to adulthood.

Eating healthy or clean should be encouraged! We want people to want to eat well, not see it as a punishment. The same line of thought goes with physical activity.

I despise burpees. They are good for you, but they’re not fun – for me. One mom I know had her 3yo daughter doing burpees with her every day. She didn’t complain about them; she made it a fun challenge for the little one, made her excited about exercising with her mama. That little one LOVED burpees. That was her go-to exercise as a 4yo. She could keep up with adults, and actually pass us up. Her form only improved. She started adding variations as she got older. She still sees burpees as one of her favorite exercises she can do. That is child-rearing done right!

How do you get your kiddos to want to eat clean and exercise? Give them options…

I worked as a nanny for a year and have done multiple weekend-long babysitting jobs on top of regular babysitting jobs in my time. When I cooked for the kiddos, I gave them options – very specific options.

For example, I didn’t ask “what do you want to eat with this burger?” because I knew the little ones would want chips or cookies or ice cream. Instead, they were asked, “which do you want: apple slices or carrots/celery?” Then if they didn’t want to eat the fruit or veggies, I could say, “this is the part of supper you picked! Why did you pick it?” Their usual response was “oh. yeah” before eating every bite because they remembered that was how they had a say in what they ate.

I didn’t learn this trick on my own. Some of it came from Human or Life Development classes and chapters. Most of it came from how my parents raised me. “Do you want to unload the wood from the truck or carry it downstairs?” “What sounds good for supper next month? Nope, I already have a pizza night on the calendar; pick something else!”

I use this trick with exercise too. Even with adults, I will ask if they want to do goblet squats or front squats, Romanian deadlifts or regular deadlifts? With my volleyball girls, did they want to the Pit or X for passing drills? You may find yourself doing the same methods with employees or co-workers in your line of work, so why not with the tiny humans at home?

Another thought that came to mind with that competing chef: how is her self-esteem?

Is she constantly comparing herself to her parents? Or her siblings (if she had any)? What about the people she sees in the park or going into a local gym? Is she completely opposed to the idea of exercise because of fear of judgment? Does she refuse to exercise because she wants to do and be the opposite of her parents?

What is her quality of life going to be like down the road? Is she going to be huffing and puffing walking around the kitchen? Is she going to end up with diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, heart problems because she associates a healthy lifestyle with misery?

Savory and sweet are my two favorite flavor profiles. Is that all I eat? Absolutely not. I don’t keep junk food (candy, chips, even chocolate chips) in my house unless I need them for a specific recipe or two. But…I also do not hesitate to order that slice of cheesecake or the chocolate lava cake for dessert when I go out to eat!

I’ll buy that pepperoni roll as a snack after work; mozzarella sticks and honey mustard go great with salads.

Closing thoughts:

  • the very first thing my siblings and I were allowed to “cook” on our own, besides PB&J sandwiches, were salads. That was our assignment from mum in the kitchen. We all can make absolutely beautiful salads with decent knife cuts. (My brother is a chef now, so he disagrees that mine and our sister’s knife cuts are decent.) None of us have a problem making salads to go along with our protein or as a main course.
  • whenever we went out to a buffet, our parents told us we had to get a salad first before the rest of our meal or we didn’t get dessert. We loved the salad bars at different restaurants. We weren’t required to get a side salad, but salad bars had so many options we didn’t always have at home (3 different type of olives?! Those noodle things?! Yes!) that we wanted to get a side salad. Mozzarella sticks, honey mustard, and the salad bar was and still is one of my favorite things to order at a local restaurant. Where’s the protein? Those salad bars have hard-boiled eggs, diced ham, sometimes grilled chicken.
  • I’m not one who counts every calorie I put in my body, and I don’t ask my clients to do so either. I eat when I’m hungry and meal plan to make my life easier, keep my grocery budget on track, and look at what fuel I’m giving my body. But, if a friend invites me over for pizza, I don’t say no. If I get a squad call right before I go cook a nutrient-dense meal I had planned, and I’m tired and hungry when I get back, I’ll run to the market for a wrap. Life happens. While friends, family, and I joke around my world revolving around food and coffee, it truly doesn’t. Trying to track every gram of fat or protein or carbs I eat would take the fun out of eating.

That chef not having fun eating or cooking something unless it’s something her parents wouldn’t approve of her eating as a kid…that makes me shake my head.

I have a picture of a cute little blonde toddler me sitting on the island, making myself a PB&J sandwich while mum is in the background making sure I don’t fall off or make too big of a mess. I have another picture of cute little me sitting on the counter eating a sandwich. So many memories are made in the kitchen.

Those memories contribute to quality of life throughout our entire lifespan.

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