I grew up in the “˜80s ““ the era of fruit punch and boxed mac and cheese. I didn’t give much thought to what was good or bad for me. My single, working mom, an avid veggie lover and modernized hippie, cooked homemade meals when she could and did her best to make good choices for our family when she couldn’t. As I got older, I became aware of the good habits she had instilled in me. And when I had my own children, I realized how important it was for me to help them understand how to make healthy choices in today’s even more complicated food climate.
We live by the 80/20 rule in our family. No one thing is off limits (allergies aside), but there also aren’t many poor food choices available in our home. If I keep eighty percent of our meals prepared within the walls of our home, then I don’t stress about the other twenty percent. I allow them cookies, candy or treats at appropriate times, and we make them organic more often than not, but I don’t make any restrictions when they are on play dates or at birthday parties.
Learning Your Body
Most questions about the food rules in our home are responded to with lessons in respect for our bodies. We talk about listening to our bodies and taking good care of ourselves with healthy foods and exercise. I empower them with direct questions that help them decipher what they want versus what they need. What is your body telling you? Are you hungry? How can you tell? What do you think will satisfy that urge? Is that a good choice? Why? Over the years, topics have ranged from why taking our vitamins is important to what calories are. The more they know and understand, the more they embrace our family’s values.
When we talk about tough topics, which we do often, I focus on being frank and honest, while keeping the discussion in terms the kids can understand and relate to. The kids recently asked why we buy the organic versions of food and products. I walked them through the realities of how food is grown in the modern world, the amount of pesticides used, and the changes being made to our food in the form of GMOs. Then, I asked them what they thought about it and what their opinions were on what food they would prefer to have in our house. The votes were unanimous, and I’m proud to say, we’re staying a green household.