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2018 Nov

Obsessed with Food

Kids learn everything about food from you. Start today to improve your own eating habits and your family will thank you for it.

I recently tried a new diet, a really strict one that meant I had to eliminate most of my favorite foods, not to mention my evening glass (or two) of wine. Needless to say, it was an epic fail. I lasted a week, seven excruciating days.

It wasn’t that bad, but I’m just not cut out for extreme dieting. To be honest, I don’t feel that worried about my weight. Sure, I would look better and feel better if I lost 15 pounds, but as long as I’m not gaining weight, I’m OK with where I am right now.

Some people are obsessed with food, and others don’t give it much thought. But the truth is what we put in our bodies makes a huge difference in our overall health. The problem is there are so many different schools of nutritional thought, it’s easy to get confused.

Some diets say avoid fat, and others say eat healthy fat. Some say grains are bad, and others say grains are good for you. Some say dairy is a good source of protein, and others say it contains too much fat. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what’s good and what’s not good to eat? One easy answer to this dilemma is to eat certain foods in moderation, drink lots of water, and enjoy fruits and vegetables with abandon.

I’m also using a food diary app, which displays in a circle graph the percentage of carbs, fat, and protein I consume every day, as well as the calories. These apps provide an overall picture of what your nutritional intake is every day, and I recommend trying one. It can be a little time consuming at first, but once your favorite foods are added, it gets easier to maintain.

What does this have to do with parenting? Well, as you know, your kids learn everything about food from you. If you stop at fast food places regularly and load up on burgers and fries, your kids are going to follow your footsteps. And I don’t need to tell you how bad for you and your kids that kind of food is. In fact, if you look back at the trajectory of bad eating habits, increasing obesity, and declining health, these trends corresponds with the rise in fast food culture. Just look around and see what all this greasy fast food has done to us.

So how to fix the problem? It takes planning. Cook healthy meals on the weekends, for example, and freeze them for easy dinners during the week. Buy salads and serve with chicken breast chunks on top. Pop a sweet potato in the microwave and serve alongside a slice of ham or tofurkey. The best food is often the least expensive, and with a little creativity, you can make tasty meals for your family and save money at the same time. Check out the bean recipes on p. 16 for inspiration.

If you want even more inspiration, buy a ticket for Sentara’s Nutrition as Medicine event on Nov. 13 ($25 - registration closes Nov. 9) at the Va. Beach Convention Center. It’s an all-day symposium featuring rock stars from the nutrition world, and you will walk away with a new outlook on the importance of eating nourishing food. Search on Facebook for more information.

As parents, it’s up to us to raise our kids to be healthy and strong. Establishing a good nutritious foundation for them should be our first step.                             

Peggy Sijswerda

Peggy Sijswerda is the editor and co-publisher of Tidewater Family and Tidewater Women magazines. She has an MFA in creative nonfiction from Old Dominion University and is the author of Still Life with Sierra, a travel memoir. Peggy also freelances for a variety of regional, national, and international magazines.

Website: www.peggysijswerda.com

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