How do we Teach the Next Generation to Love to Eat Healthy

I grew up in an age and family that we thought we ate healthy.  Well, by most people’s standards we did.

For us, it was healthy because we were fortunate to have parents that loved eating good “real” food. Our mom loved to bake and cook and so my parents would serve us the food that was in season and preserved it to eat it later. I find myself explaining to our own kids that “back in my day, we didn’t have all this fresh produce all year long”. The art of preserving fruits and veggies grown on the other side of the world was not what it is today.

Our parents grew up in an era of canned food. Everything was canned, and I mean everything. My mom still had an icebox growing up instead of a refrigerator, so only certain foods were put in there. Freezing was only just coming into common practice. So she was still learning as we were growing up. People in the 70’s were still considered ‘hippies’ if they ate an alternative diet. Eating out was just not part of my growing up. Boy, have things changed.

We now live in an instant era. People buy groceries daily instead of on paydays. They also only buy what will be eaten in the next couple of days. People buy smaller portions, generally, for immediate consumption. Unless, you are on the other end of the spectrum and shop in the big box stores and buy huge quantities. The Americans have really mastered the art of ‘more is better’, and society now expects to eat what we purchase, even if the portions are way too large for us.

So, how are we expected to teach the next generation;

  • what to eat,
  • how to shop,
  • what portion sizing really is,
  • how to read labels,
  • value instead of price,
  • natural vs preserved.

We have a grandbaby on its way to our family. We are happy beyond belief and for the first few months, food will be simple. After that, we, as a family will be looking at how to teach this child how to eat healthy. We will want to teach our new baby the value of eating the right food and what empty calories look like and what they do for our bodies. We will want to make sure that there is a healthy understanding of where food comes from and why we eat what we do.

Some of the responsibility of teaching our children to eat healthy and properly should, in my opinion, could be taught in school. It should be part of discussions right from when kids are little, especially at home, and the teachers, as we all know, are overworked as it is. But without some guidelines, most kids will never know what food does in their bodies and as we are seeing everywhere, kids are not active as much as they should be and therefore type 2 diabetes is everywhere. It is totally preventable if we teach our kids early.

So, again, how do we teach the kids?

I think it’s time to go back to my grandparents generation.

  • Fresh is best. If it’s in season, eat it. If it’s not, what kind of preservatives have be used to keep that fruit fresh so long after it was picked.
  • Read labels. If you can’t understand the ingredient list, probably not great to eat.
  • Read portion size. Understand the quantity the label is talking about, they can be quite deceiving.
  • If you can, make it instead of buying it. Do you know how easy some foods are to make? Some foods are treats, not staples.
  • I am a huge fan of reward meals. Not cheat meals, rewards. Those times are perfect for the treats.

Talking about food should be encouraged. Do your research. There is a lot of misinformation out there and there is a lot of outdated data still being used as the rules. Try new foods, learn what nutrients are in them. Learn moderation. Taste what you eat and enjoy it more.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” -Virginia Woolf

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