I’ll Love You TOMORROW!

In the words of little orphan Annie, “I’ll love you tomorrow!” (WHEN IT ISN’T WEDNESDAY!) Haha! C’mon now it has almost become a Wednesday tradition for me to at least make some comment about this wretched day! Actually today is not too bad! I banged out another pretty awesome run. I actually went into Gold’s Gym this morning to run and I used the cardio cinema! It is basically a HUGE big screen TV (think movie theater here) in a totally dark room with cardio equipment lined up! So I watched The Chronicles of Riddick while running. It was actually kind of fun and highly addicting. I ran 10 miles without even realizing it and then had to walk a few more just to see the ending! haha!!

So, I am going to gloss over food right now because honestly my dinner last night was not that interesting and breakfast this morning was just the same old thing. So, what I want to talk about it is going back to my post on Ronald McDonald from Monday. Most of you agreed with me that a cartoonish mascot is not directly responsible for making children want the unhealthy foods our world offers. But I did a lot of comments from people saying that in moderation they see no harm in allowing children the treat of fast food. (emphasis on the word treat here, people.) So it got me thinking about how I was raised and about my childhood experience with fast food and other unhealthy indulgences.

I grew up in a household where nothing was really off-limits. My parents bought chips and cookies but they also bought fruits and vegetables galore. Every morning for breakfast my brother and I usually had cold cereal (some form of Cheerios or Rice Krispies) or oatmeal (usually Quaker instant maple and brown sugar). For lunch we had the standard sandwich (usually turkey) with chips (the little fun size bags…remember those? I am not sure bags of chips that small even still exist), a fruit or vegetable (usually apple slices or carrot sticks) and some form of a dessert (usually 2 chocolate chips cookies or 2 Oreos). Our afterschool snack varied…cheese and crackers, PB and crackers, fruit, cereal, etc. and then dinner was always a protein (usually fish or chicken) with 2 vegetables (usually lima beans, broccoli, corn, etc..) If we had a good showing at dinner we always got dessert (I remember a lot of frozen yogurt as a kiddo!) We occasionally had fast food and pizza but not every week and certainly not as the norm. I guess because I did grow up in a home where nothing was label as “bad and good” I never really craved anything. I sometimes feel like the reason people can’t stop at 2 cookies is because they won’t let themselves have them. So when they get them they go nuts! But since we always had cookies around I was totally satisfied at 1 or 2 because I knew I would get them again some other day. Does that make sense?

I am not an advocate of limiting your children’s food experiences 100% because I do think it is important to expose them to all kinds of foods inside their own home. If you NEVER buy cookies at some point your child will get them from somewhere else. And if it is labeled to be “bad” then they will grow up with a negative view of those items and most likely deprive themselves of them and therefore set themselves up for disordered eating (either through starvation or bingeing). I know this sounds extreme, but the point I am really trying to make is that exposing children in moderation to foods is what I think develops healthy and normal eating patterns. I think more the problem today is lack of exercise and portion sizes. When I was a kid a small bag of chips was exactly that…a small bag. A cookie wasn’t the size of my head. I grew up on much smaller portion sizes than those produced today. Plus we were active and outside all the time. We didn’t have the technology obsession like most kids do today.

All in all, I grew up in a household where healthy foods were constantly served but junk food was present too. My brother and I learned through example. My parents set good examples of well-rounded eating. With no strong emphasis on a food labels, such as good and bad, and more emphasis on leading by example, my brother and I just instinctively learned what was and was not allowed at certain times. We knew we couldn’t have chips and cookies for our afterschool snack. By example my parents taught us to make healthy choices. So much so that we were trusted to make these choices on our own and 95% of the time we made the right ones! So, your turn:

What were your eating habits like as a kid?

Also of possible  interest: check out my latest Examiner article on Bringing Family Dinners Back!

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43 Responses

  1. My mom was the same way with me growing up! We had some treats in the house but they were just eaten as treats, not all the time. She led by example and I think that fostered my love for healthy food. Not to say I don’t love cookies and ice cream too 🙂

  2. My eating habits were horrible!!!!! I survived on candy, cookies, cereal, mac and cheese, pizza, fruit roll-ups, frosting, chips, etc. Not one spec of a fruit or veggie! Finally a couple of years ago I started to slowly introduce healthy foods into my diet. I am happy to say that I am know a health freak and feel so much better 🙂

  3. My mom had a very healthy diet… my father did not. So we were exposed to everything. I agree with you that parents need to set a good example! Thats the most important thing!

  4. As a kid, I ate just like you. I can completely see how hard it must be for parents today with regards to portion sizing, “cool” food and their kids’ lack of movement! I can’t even imagine!

  5. Same way! Nothing was off limits for us. Everything was eaten in moderation and there wasn’t even ever any ‘food’ talk. We just ate. Luckily, most of it was healthy.

    • Exactly…we never had “food talk” in my house. We just ate by the example my parents set. Luckily my parents were really smart about eating. But my brother and I just learned from them.

  6. Your parents got it right, that’s for sure! I used to think, I’ll never buy junk and we’ll always eat super healthy and never go out for fast food, but like you said, eventually kids will rebel and see their friends eating and want it even more.

    When I was a kid, I was just super stubborn and picky. All I wanted were chicken fingers, fries, and mac and cheese. My poor mom tried to get me to eat fruit and veggies, but I wouldn’t have any part of it. I don’t know if there’s any different approach she could have taken to make things work or if I was just a really difficult child when it came to food. Who knows…

  7. Nice article on Examiner!

  8. Good job with the run. If I can zone out to something I like watching on TV, then I can deal with the dreadmill LOL. It sounds like we grew up very similar. We didn’t have sodas in the house until I was much older and my mother married a soda addict, but we were only allowed like 1 glass seriously. That was a treat. We very rarely went out to eat. McDonald’s was a big treat for us, very rare. Maybe it was b/c we didn’t have a lot of money? Maybe people just went out less back then? I’m a child of the 70’s to give away my age.

  9. My household was pretty much the same way, we really had a good balance; guess we were pretty lucky! Also we LOVED maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal, 2 packets please 🙂

  10. Growing up, we were allowed to eat fast food as a treat. I never thought of it as off-limits. Ever. Then in eighth grade I decided I didn’t want to eat it anymore, and I haven’t. I think it doesn’t tempt me because it was my decision, not my parents. While they wouldn’t have let me eat fast food every night, they would have let me eat one fast food meal every three weeks.

    On the flip side, my husband grew up in a house where fast food was banned and evil. Once he moved away to college, he tried the forbidden fruit and went on to eat fast food for every single meal. Now he’s still addicted. (I’m working on that.) I think it’s this sense of the forbidden.

    I don’t have kids, but when I do I know I won’t forbid anything. I think that’s just asking for rebellion. I’ll keep the junk to a minimum and let them have treats once in a while.

  11. We had a completely unhealthy dynamic in my household (and my parents still do). Id really love to talk more openly about the struggles Ive had with food that I think were in part developed in my child hood but I havent figured out how to do so without insulting my parents. But I dont think they read your blog!
    There was never really any talk of moderation in our home. And honestly, we didnt have many balanced meals. As I got older we ate out more and my Moms effort to try and make sure I didnt ‘end up like her’ turned into an issue.
    We werent a very active family, and although I think my parents tried to get me involved and have me learn from their wrongs, I think the best thing would have been to have a positive role model at home.

  12. Growing up there was hardly ever any junk in the house, my hates junk food. However, we did have pizza, burgers and other things every once in a while but it was like you said a treat.

    I am the same way with my kids, I try to make sure they have balanced meals and every once in a while they get a treat. They are great eaters and will devour veggies and fruits just as much as they do pizza or fries. I don’t want to put a bad/good label on food, I want them to know everything is ok in balance.

  13. Well- fast food and pizza was definitely a “treat”. Part of that had to do with the fact that it was 40 minutes away. So that was a good thing I guess.

    My problem was dessert in the house. Cookies were accessable at all times. My mom was always baking multiple things to have in the house “just because” and they never (from what I remember) were off limits. This would have been good if we were taught moderation a little bit better. Hence the reason I have such a severe sweet tooth. And have to really work hard on reminding myself about moderation.

    These are all things I think I’ll keep in mind when I have a family of my own…

  14. my eating habits as a kid were not even habits a kid would normally have. My mom has tried every fad diet out there, her favorite being the “no fat” diet. I would drink slimfast, eat meal replacement bars, and get skinny cow ice creams for dessert. Fruits and vegies were never forced upon me simply because my mom did not like them. Basically, I was all screwed up as a kid. There was a time where I wouldn’t eat anything unless it said organic on the front, just because of my mom. So glad THAT experience is over!!

  15. The cardio sounds so fun! There are mini TVs at the gym but there’s never a whole movie playing so around commercials I kind of get bored of the workout and start slowing down. And for some reason running in the dark sounds really fun…

    The main reason I stopped eating fast food was mostly for ethical reasons. I’m fine with having a high-calorie burger once in a blue moon, but I’m not fine with supporting a company like McDonalds which treats neither its food nor its workers with respect, and that’s not counting the scrupleless companies that McDonalds buys from. Another thing to take into consideration is what one considers junk food. To me, junk food is food that contains stuff that isn’t real. You can pick up a “gourmet” box of crackers that says it’s filled with nice things like whole grains and seeds, but if it has an artificial flavor or color, it’s junk to me. Whereas a big, juicy hamburger made from beef from grass-fed, well-raised cattle with a side of potatoes which have simply been cut and fried is not junk food to me. It’s certainly not the most healthful thing on the planet, but it is not junk food.

    My diet growing up was strange. I wasn’t a kid who hated vegetables, but it certainly wasn’t my favorite thing. My mom has been overweight my whole life but she had a lovely nana whom I never had the chance to meet who taught my mom how to cook real food. On the other hand, my mom had and still has not much against fast food. So, while we often enjoyed homemade pizza, we also often enjoyed delivery pizza. We had homemade cookies, then we had Keebler cookies. There was usually fruit in the house, but not a whole lot, and even less of veggies. The thing is that there wasn’t really a whole lot of balance. My mom made lots of food from scratch, but by golly there was a lot of butter and white flour and sugar involved. Then when veggies WERE served, they were usually in a manner that I didn’t particularly enjoy. I’m very minimalist when it comes to vegetables. I prefer spinach, kale and swiss chard to be merely wilted; broccoli and brussels sprouts steamed; and a lot of other veggies I prefer uncooked. I RARELY add ANYTHING, not even salt or pepper, to my veggies except I add lemon juice to salads usually. My parents, on the other hand, like their veggies covered in sauces and seasonings. Strangely, that was supposed to make it taste better but to me it tasted worse and so I grew to dislike veggies! But once I was around 12 I was pretty much feeding myself because my mom stopped cooking and we no longer had family dinners, and that’s when my diet was the worst. There were days when all I would eat was chips, fish sticks and ice cream, or something like that. I rarely ate fruit and veggies, and most of my diet consisted of processed food. It wasn’t until I was 15 that I finally decided to educate myself on how to eat properly, because I was feeling crappy all the time. I’m just glad I came to my senses as soon as I did. 😛
    If I have kids, I’ll make sure there’s a good variety around, but I’ll never buy them what I consider junk food. Okay, if they get it at a friend’s house, fine. It won’t kill them. But I don’t want the junk food to be the stuff that they consider food. I can’t go long without a sweet treat, so they’ll still be satisfied when it comes to dessert. It just won’t be so bad for them haha.

    And I agree with your article. The whole reason my eating habits got to their worst was because we stopped having family dinners.

    • Thanks for sharing Mo! I LOVE learning more about you! I am glad you have taken control on your situation and are on a healthy path now. I also thought you made a REALLY GREAT point in that what people consider to be junk food varies. I agree with you that most processed foods (no matter how healthy they seem to be) are more on the junk food side.

  16. We did have a little more limits in my house when I was growing up. But I don’t think my parents did it in a way that encouraged unhealthy habits or binge eating, because they did allow us to have treats. So, for example…even though they didn’t buy us sugar cereals most of the time, we would get them on special occasions like vacations…and to this day my Mom still buys Pop Tarts on Christmas morning (the one time a year she got them for us as kids haha). We also weren’t allowed to snack all day, whenever we wanted to. Usually we all had one when we came home from school, but my mom had a lot of healthy treats in the house, so that’s what we wanted.

    We did, however, get dessert most nights after dinner. 🙂 I think my eating habits as a kid went a long way in teaching me about balance and eating in moderation…and how to eat healthy without depriving.

  17. Great, great, great post! You made a great point about what can happen if you never buy cookies or other treats. I remember playing outside all the time as a child. Ramsey plays outside a lot and is very active. I hope to keep him that way!

  18. I grew up in a very similar manner and had a very healthy relationship with food and a healthy body as well. It wasn’t until I got to college that I learned disordered thinking myself. I think I have the exact same type of scenario you talked about going on in our house too. I want Makenzie to grow up exposed to all sorts of things, with nothing viewed as good or bad. She had some icecream last week, but also ate veggies every night with her dinner and lots of fruit and whole grains and good proteins too. It’s all about balance.

  19. I ate very similarly to you most of the time and we also had family dinners. There was definitely plenty of less healthy eating too – Fridays usually meant pizza or fish fry out and ice cream was often my nighttime snack. My mom loved baking so there was also cookies and bars. In the summer things always went a little down hill – mac & cheese or ramon noodles and kool-aid were the usual lunch. I never once thought about calories until college (unlike many girls) because I was so active. Education made the difference for me in deciding to eat healthier more often (and through me – also my mom). However, my sis and brother still eat like they did when we were younger. So I think while early environment has some effect on long-term eating habits, it is not the only deciding factor.
    I agree that nothing should be labeled off-limits or “good” or “bad” and about exposing children to all types of foods and focusing on portion sizes.

  20. I pretty much ate the same and I never thought of food as good or bad…I don’t even have ONE memory of thinking like that until I reached college age where I was surrounded by sorority sisters with eating disorders. I am thankful I grew up in a healthy home that celebrated all kinds of food and taught the value of good nutrition!

    • I don’t have memories of foods being labeled as good or bad either as a child. I think that was a really good thing my parents did!

  21. My growing-up eating is EXACTLY the same as yours. Cereal for breakfast, packed lunches with sandwiches for lunch, snacks, and dinner around the table with meat and 2 sides. I think it had a great influence on my eating habits now. I never considered a big dessert to be standard, and my mom just said “no” to fast food. I actually don’t think my mom ever took us until high school and everyone was involved in a million activities. It was a special treat and it was explained to us that it wasn’t very healthy for all the time. Anyway, I think family dinners together especially at home are key for good eating habits! Even if you eat together a lot but go out, it’s just SO much more food. Eating while chatting and not zoning out on TV definitely slows you down!

  22. i actually ate really well as a kid, but i would go over to friend’s houses to eat junk food that their parents bought! it was a treat (as it should be!) for me 🙂

  23. Interesting topic! My mum was very strict about healthy eating when we were growing up and in a way I think it backfired. We were not allowed chips, cookies etc and therefore the foods became “off limits”. When I could get my hands on them I went wild! Luckily I became aware of my decisions early on and it never became a big problem but I do sometimes think that if nothing had been labeled bad, it never would have been a problem in the first place.

    – Beth @ http://www.DiningAndDishing.com

  24. We ate pretty healthfully growing up. My parents belonged to the local co-op, which was literally half a block from our house. That being said, we did get treats, but they were just that- treats. Not something we got all the time or every day!

  25. My lunches sounded pretty much exactly like yours growing up!
    Except my favorite “after school snacks” were cosmic brownies, zebra cakes, & hostess cupcakes.
    My parents never really restricted anything either, but they weren’t very broad in their food choices – we pretty much stuck to the same things, so it was up to me as I got older to venture out and find NEW stuff! 🙂

  26. In a word, awful. I don’t blame my parents though they tried to teach me. Eating habits known since childhood are incredibly difficult to break.I will definitely work to instill stronger values in my children.

  27. I think it’s great that your parents didn’t define anything as “bad” or “off-limits.” Because you’re right…once you label something as bad, you’re only going to want it more! Is that why ladies like bad boys? hah off topic…

    My family’s eating habits aren’t that great…but who’s to say that’s a bad thing because I stand here today being a healthy dietitian-to-be!

  28. yep exactly like you!! i was brought up in a house hold of balanace….we took after my parents and waht they ate and they eat VERY healthy BUT we were never told food was off limits, instead we had certain days that we could have extra special treats! in the summer, every friday we could choose anything we wanted from the icecream truck whereas during the week it had to be popsicle or sherbert form. Fridays were for the chipwich! this way we were never deprived but saw some of the ;ess healthy items as a treat!!

    I guess it worked because I love eating healthy now!

  29. LOVED this post! I think we had similar upbringings (eating-wise). I really believe that kids should not be brought up with “good” or “bad” perspectives on foods! At the same time…I also don’t believe in fast food. Not sure what I would do with my own kids but we NEVER go to fast food so I don’t really think it will be a huge problem. I dunno though…

  30. my parents did not allow me to eat certain foods and i think that was bad for me as an adult now…..i think you grew up with a better relationship with food!

  31. Mine sound about the same as yours, although every Friday was pizza night in our house and always something to look forward to!

  32. I think the way I grew up was a lot like you. We had lots of good food, and some junk. We didnt eat a lot of the junk though, probably because it wasnt off limits.
    My mom was ALWAYS on some kind of diet though, and I think to some degree that affected me. Im not about to go and blame my eating disorder on her, because thats just not true. But there was a lot of diet talk in our house.

  33. My eating habits were a lot like yours when I was a kid. We had both healthy food and we had treats available also – so I never felt the need to go crazy on junk food because it wasn’t forbidden.

  34. I had terrible eating habits as a kid and all through college. I was a sugar cereal kid, sandwiches for lunch, and then hot dogs/chicken nuggets/frozen tv dinners for dinner. We didn’t get fast food much, it was more of a treat.

    I had to bite my tongue several times when I was at home because my sister feeds her kids crap all the time. We talked about childhood obesity a bit, and she said my kids aren’t fat (they are really skinny kids, actually), but at least said also that doesn’t mean they can eat garbage. She doesn’t have a lot of money though, so I can’t say much when her kids come in the house holding mcdonalds bags, or they make their turkey sandwiches and refuse to eat lettuce or tomato on them or the carrots or watermelon that were the side dishes.

    I go back and forth over being over/under exposed to foods. I honestly think it is more a matter of the attitude that you develop towards food growing up. But, I am obviously an exception to that rule!

  35. I grew up much the same way and intend on raising my kids that way. We actually didn’t usually have dessert but it wasn’t out of the question. My mom baked cookies or made strawberry shortcake on occasion and and we ate them without a second thought. But like you, nothing was off limits or labeled bad or good. I agree that all things are fine in moderation and that portion control is the #! offender in the battle of the bulge. i’m not saying I will never take my kids to McDonalds or give them desserts, but they will be treats and not an everyday occurance. They also won’t supersize if I have anything to do with it 🙂

  36. You very much described my family’s eating habits – all in moderation! Only real difference I saw – instead of two veggies we ALWAYS had 1 veggie and 1 carb. To this day I can’t really have chicken or beef without rice or potatoes!!

  37. There were a lot of things that I wasn’t allowed to have as a kid. It’s all stuff that I wouldn’t eat now, but as a kid, I really wanted it. Like soda, sugary cereals, Capri-Sun etc. I can see what my mom was trying to do, but it really backfired because I totally binged at friends’ houses and ended up like 40 lbs overweight by the time I got into high school.

  38. I grew up with healthy habits and homecooked dinners every night of the week (except Fridays..which was usually pizza night). My mom did a great job of teaching me about a balanced diet, but not limiting my foods. I hope I can do as good of a job with my kids. I’m nervous about it!

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