Healthful Change to the Family Diet, Part II

KH tasting her potato and vegetable curryDeep in the core of me is a fire that motivates my spiritual life. I hope my decisions, choices, habits and attitudes spring forth from that source. I don’t always respond perfectly but I’m committed to try until I can succeed.

My eating hasn’t always seemed in line with that principle-based living. We eat relatively well at our home, but I’ve allowed the obstacles to healthful changes sidetrack us from doing better than we can.

It took going to my kids’ check-ups with their doctor to remind me that I’m the mom, I shop for the food and prepare the meals, and ultimately I’m the one with  most influence on what our family eats. Even more, that’s my legitimate responsibility. It doesn’t mean I’m controlling their choices but continuing to teach them how to make good ones.

But. . . I wasn’t converted to those changes myself. That’s what kept me from success every time we tried new patterns and slid back into old habits. I needed to have my own change of heart about food.

I started with a little analysis of our family habits and my personal tastes. I asked myself not only what do I need to eat less and what do I need to eat more, but also why do I eat what I do and when I do?

In my answers I found a discrepancy between the good health I want to have in 20 or 30 years and and my path that is too influenced by taste, tradition, pressure and emotion. Now, I’m committed to change, and I’m ready to bring my family to the table with me.

First, I’m educating them that what and how we eat matters past our mouths. As I said, I enlisted the help of their doctor. He gave them some solid advice that mirrored the changes we’ve already been working toward. Then, this article containing guidelines from the American Heart Association about sugar consumption became required reading at our house.

Second, I’m involving them in the meal planning and preparation. Just like my husband and I scoured our magazines for new recipes when we had a week of eating like adults, my children gathered healthy meal ideas. Their suggestions became part of our menu and each took charge of dinner on the night of their choice. They were much more willing to eat what they’d fixed, which included chef salads, pita pockets with a choice of fillings, multi-grain rolls filled with spinach and mozzarella, and potato and vegetable curry.

Third, I’m inviting them to refine the plan together as a family. It was obvious that some of our meal choices worked and others didn’t. Some recipes appeared healthy but really weren’t. Some weren’t appealing or took too much time to prepare. I want to listen to these opinions and fine-tune what I purchase and prepare in the future. This isn’t caving in to their demands but allowing their educated opinions to influence what we serve.

With my oldest daughter in high school and my youngest in middle school, they are closer to being on their own than ever before. When I was working with them in the kitchen, I saw that the simple things like how to dice an onion, time several dishes to get to the table at once or determine portion size aren’t any less significant than their school assignments. They all add up to the nutritional skills they’re going to need to feed themselves and their families. I’m going to keep that in mind when this inevitable cry comes, “Why didn’t you buy any sugared cereal?”

1 Comment

  1. Carrie
    Sep 7, 2009

    I love it! This gives me such insight as I work to make eating plans for when my family gets a little bigger. And I thought that AHA article about sugar was really interesting. I didn’t necessarily argree with all their reasons for making the recomendation (I think the problem is a little deeper than they described) but I thought it was a step in the right direction.

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