Role Models

What kind of nutritional role models were your parents? Where did you learn healthy eating? When?

I shared this story before but I will share it again since it was a while ago and I have some new readers. Growing up, I was very active and athletic. Besides when I seemed to hit puberty around 4th grade and put on weight, I was mainly a fit kid growing up. I didn't really think about food and exercise or know what healthy choices were out there. I didn't think about it. Fast forward to freshmen year of college, when I really started drinking and partying - add on 20 pounds. I was still hitting the gym, but not really aware, and was definitely self-conscious of my body for the first time, especially after looking around me. Going into sophomore year after a summer of drinking more, I was around 150 pounds, which was a lot for my 5"4 frame. I decided to go out for the crew team, and upon finding out above 130 was heavyweight/under 130 lightweight, I made it my goal to lose the weight for the spring season. I did so by cutting calories to 1100 everyday and making sure that I burned more calories than I ate everyday- so in addition to crew practice, I'd run, swim, do kickboxing, lift.. any type of exercise. The calories that I was eating were made of stir fry from the dining hall, veggie burgers, balance bars... that is probably all - my calories were severely low! I managed to lose more than 25 pounds in 6 months, which was gradual. From that point on, I developed a real awareness for what was going into my body and what I needed to do to maintain my weight. I also took a class on nutrition and was very interested.

The next few years my weight stayed in the 120s but I felt like my life was based on maintaining my weight and what I was going to eat next. This took a toll on my fun characteristics and happiness! That was about 10 years ago and I went through those years being fit most of the time but always conscious and always eating well, with some sweets in moderation of course. Although it is not as bad now as it was then, anytime I am not feeling good about my body, it is a big downer - sometimes I do feel like it plays too much of a role in my life and would like to not worry about it. I get there when I am in a good place w/ my body - but am still working on losing baby weight and it isn't fun. I'm trying to just eat well and keep up some kind of activity.

Back to role models - I want to be a good role model for my family. The Super Baby Food book is awesome, and I can't wait to use it. I feel like I am a great eater and am looking forward to serving my family healthy meals. I don't want to be a crazo and have my kids not know what something like OREOS are, but I don't want someone to look in my cabinets and see crap food.

Here I am down the shore at my grandparents house, and I get irritated when I open the cabinets. They are filled with foods from various aunts and uncles leaving things here: Doritos, Tastycakes, Poptarts, Sugary cereals. Nothing that I would eat unless I was on an island / starving and had nothing to eat. I don't know whose house doesn't have things like this in the cabinet - (well, mine doesn't), but I'm also not sure how to change things. I wish coming to the shore wasn't a deluge of junk food. I dream of going home to my parents' and relatives houses and finding the cabinets full of dried cranberries, kashi, nuts, protein powder, oatmeal, fresh fruit & veggies, quinoa? millet? wheat germ? ... alas.. I never see this happening. How to change things?

In running news, I barely made it over the 20 mile mark this week - and I could use a few days off, so I'm just running when I feel like it, and plan to swim by midweek!

Here's Nick at the beach - we're here for a long weekend:


  1. I think I saw what my parents ate and decided not to do it! My mom smoked and drank coffee/diet Coke the majority of me living at home. She'd eat salads for lunch and then be starving so she'd snack all night.

    My dad is a sweet-tooth junkie. Neither parent was/is very active as far as exercise, though my dad stays busy w/ work and doing various carpentry/DIY stuff around the house.

    I really think working at the Health Food store starting in High School opened my eyes to alternative options. I bought a ton of vegetarian cookbooks and basically cooked for myself from age 17 on. Some of it wore off on my parents, but not so much now that I'm married and out of the house.

  2. Unfortunately, old habits die hard....I know I could NEVER break my parents of the junk/bad foods they eat, and I grew up with. I was a very lucky little girl, I had the metabolism of a race horse, so I was super skinny, despite the fact I lived on swiss cake rolls, frosted flakes, and bologna and mayonaise sandwiches on wonder bread. (barf!) But I'm trying much harder with my own kids!!

  3. I hear your struggles...it's so hard. I get so much anxiety when I'm out of my own home because I can't take being surrounded by food that isn't what I choose to eat. It actually keeps me from doing things/going places. I hate that the food issues have this tight grip on me...

  4. AWWW the baby!!!!
    My parents did not enjoy cooking. I remember Stauffers lasagnas and chicken nuggets were staples in our house. We always had a vegetable (usually microwaved), though. Unfortunately, I never learned to cook.
    Once I became gluten free, I taught myself how to make EVERYTHING from scratch. (by everything I mean from bagels to bok choy) I also began studying nutrition, experimenting with various cooking methods (vegan, etc...), and attempting to try at least one new food a week. Some people may look at Celiac's Disease as a trial or a curse, but to me it is a blessing. Celiac's Disease has given me so much culinary freedom! Who would have thought that this little McDonalds lovin' teenager would grow into a Mungi Bean Sprout eating youg woman?

  5. Nick is just the most fun looking little guy!! :)

    Funny - my brother is visiting with me at the moment and we were talking about how our parents did a great job getting us to eat a variety of things growing up, that has served us well now when we're travelling and eating out with friends. Growing up, I don't think 'healthy' was really a unique term - parents always made good food, we had a packed lunch to take to school, and (what I think is the key) we always sat down together around a table for any meal, even breakfast. Healthy took on a new meaning when my dad was diagnosed with high cholesterol (back when it was a new thing) and he had to start eating soybean patties and cholesterol free eggs. He's now off all that! :) But I guess the basic concept of healthy eating has never been foreign to us, and lately I have been discovering new info about healthy eating (quinoa, flax seed, green smoothies etc), so hopefully I'll eventually be a good healthy eating role model too :)

  6. ha, funny you wrote about finding crap food in the cabinets. The same thing happened to me while we were at the beach with my hubby's extended family. I felt like a food snob because I knew it would happen and brought some healthy food with. Seriously, I don't think my husband's cousins ate one veggie or fruit during the entire week we were there.

    I grew up active as well and my family was always oriented around a healthy balance. My mom loves to bake and cook so we usually had some kind of sweet around. But for us back then weight wasn't an issue since we were so active and had a high metabolism. But we never really gorged out on the junk food. I do remember at a point in high school where I was very disciplined about eating sweets.

    I think the tough part is striking that balance between being healthy and not being a craze (like you said about the Oreos). We have to enjoy our food sometimes too :-). Just in moderation!

    This is a good topic and I think I'll have to write about it in the future. would love it if you posted some great vegetarian cookbooks!!!

  7. My car had more food/produce in it than clothing for our 2.5 week beach trip. You just have to bring your own food....my kids don't like that stuff (kraft mac and cheese, fruit roll ups, doritos, etc.). If you don't feed it to them, they probably won't like it...it's amazing! Now, we did have a few ice cream cones, home made chocolate chip cookies an deven a donut on the car ride (which was 8 hours...without daddy - we NEEDED the donuts!). So - all in moderation. Nick will make the choices he likes b/c of what he's brought up on!

  8. Great pictures of Nick.

    Growing up we ate whatever we wanted. My mom usually cooked dinner but we also had a lot of crap in the house. Then when I was in high school my parents went on a real health kick. While my parents aren't as healthy as they once were, they are still pretty healthy and I'd say I fall in the "pretty healthy" category. I don't know if you can change what your grandparents and parents do at this point. Old habits die really really hard. Just control what you can control and don't worry about what you can't.

  9. P pretty much grew up on mac & cheese from a box and Chef Boyardee, so I had to teach myself healthy habits. It's been a long journey and I'm still facing all kinds of bumps in the road.

    I have a heck of a time being around my family because everyone is eating JUNK all the time. I hate to eat that stuff, but it's still tempting - ya know?

    It's a non-stop battle.

  10. Oh, I could write a book on this topic! My mom has always been of the "stay away from bad foods" variety. Which is all fine, but I don't feel like I got enough guidance on going TOWARD the good stuff. Sure, I'm not eating candy bars for dinner, but I'm not exactly eating veggies either. It's only in teh last 3-5 years that I've been seeking out healthy stuff instead of just avoiding the bad.

  11. Beach looks like a great idea!

    Food, relationship with food, food issues - I think I'm in a good spot now. I crave fruits and veggies. My parents are fairly healthy eaters and I grew up with a balanced diet but ate too much sugar (excusing it because I ran and was pretty lean). I ate horribly in college and didn't return to really healthy eating until a couple of years ago (again, excusing excess because my weight was kept fairly low by running). I feel much better now than ever before and while I still eat treats (chocolate, hot cocoa, ice cream) it isn't too much or too often.

  12. I'm indifferent. My parents didnt give me junk as i was growing up but they let me choose what i wanted to eat. If i felt like eating crap one day for breakfast, thats what i did.

    I had some friends and family members who make their children ask if they can eat something & that kills me. My parents were both bothered by that when they would go to other peoples homes so i guess maybe they were a little more free with what my brother and i ate & at what time we ate it.

    I would like to be a little more cautious of my food and stop eating the junk i do- but cooking healthy meals is SO hard. I know its an excuse, but health(ier) food is NOT cheap.

    It seems as if though you are doing fabulous with your family. I think Nick will have it good growing up :)

  13. ok I feel woefully behind on posts but I'm trying!

    my dad has a horrible sweet tooth so I got that from him...we'd eat cake for breakfast! My mom just barely eats so nothing there!

    I think she made meals that they considered nutritious coming from a farm famil. Meat, bread, potatoes and a veggies. No one thought that much about soda back then so we got to have one as a treat.

    I can't believe you managed to stay at 1100 cals on the rowing team, that just seems awful on your body! You are doing great now with making small changes that will last you a lifetime.

  14. your son is soooo cute!!

    i think a lot of our food issues stem from the fact that the grocery stores aren't really filled with food. there's all kinds of things passing as food, but they're really empty calories. and that's what we grew up with..

    i think you're doing a great job eating real food which will help establish good food habits for your son.

  15. You are the healthiest eater I know. Or at least the healthiest eater I read all about :-) You are a great role model for Nick.

    My Mum always made us proper dinners. Although I remember there being a lot of chips (or fries as you guys call them). I try to cook everything from scratch. Mostly because I'm a control freak and like to know what's in everything I eat.

  16. I had divorced parents and going between homes was experiencing two extremes. At moms, white breat and sugary pops were NOT allowed. At dads, almost every meal was fast food or in a restaurant. I felt like my mom was too restrictive with all of her rules with food so in my older years I rebelled. Look where it got me, being over weight and have food issues. My goal now is to have a balance of nutritious foods as well as some of the "crap" I wasn't allowed so my boys won't rebel as I did. I try to do everything in moderation.

    Nick is so stinking cute it's ridiculous by the way!!!