The Skinny

There are a few things as a parent I wish I could go back and do differently (and by God's grand design, I have an opportunity to do just that with our girls!)  Perhaps the greatest thing of all that I would do differently comes in the area of eating.

As a child, I grew up with a step-father who insisted we eat everything on our plate.  Everything.  He didn't care if we liked it or not.  He didn't care if we were hungry or not.  He did care whether or not we slurped our soup, and was adamantly opposed to dousing foods with ketchup to hide the flavor, but beyond that, his only real rule at the table was to eat everything on your plate.

Clean your plate, you were a good kid.

Don't clean your plate, you were a bad kid.

Have the audacity to try to pick things out of your food (like mushrooms or onions or chunks of gross stewed tomatoes) and you were an abomination to the human race.

I may be overstating . . . a bit . . . maybe a lot . . . but my point is, I grew up with eating issues.

And as we all do when we become parents, I SWORE I would not repeat the parenting mistakes of my parents (though I have).

So, when I had kids, I was pretty excited that they were good eaters.  We just never had any arguments about food.  They ate anything we put in front of them.  Fruits, veggies, seafood (and they started life in Louisiana so there was LOTS AND LOTS of weird seafood), meats, wild game . . . they ate everything.

And then they went to school.  And something happened.  They stopped being good eaters.  They would eat meat, and cheese (a family staple from my own childhood) and fruits, but no veggies.  Ever.

And then one of my children developed a weird texture thing (that I later learned was a form of OCD) and wouldn't eat anything that felt "hairy" in his mouth . . . pulp in orange juice, oranges, beans, onions, the list was endless.

I didn't want to force them to eat, like I had been forced to eat, but I wanted them to get the nutrients they needed.  When I talked to my pediatrician, he HIGHLY encouraged me not to force them to eat foods they didn't like.  He said it could lead to all kinds of eating disorders, and that I should just make sure they had good vitamins, offer healthy foods, and in their own time, as their taste buds developed, they would start eating veggies again.

This rang true to me because when I met my husband, the only vegetable he ate was corn, and when I explained to him that corn was not a vegetable, MAN, did that spark a riot!  But now he eats almost every veggie (though I still don't think he actually ENJOYS them).

So, I no longer forced my kids to eat veggies.  They weren't allowed to eat junk all the time (they developed THAT bad habit on their own), but they were also not forced to eat vegetables.

I was encouraged not to draw attention to my child's issues with texture, because that would only make them worse.  So I didn't.

Fast forward 10-20+ years, and I have come to realize this.  My pediatrician was wrong.  I agree that I didn't need to FORCE my kids to eat, but I should have been a little stronger in my "at least try one bite" approach.

My daughters have foods they actually don't like, either the taste or the texture of.  But they have to take at least one bite.  And over time, some of the foods they didn't initially like, they have come to truly enjoy.

Why am I writing all of this?  Because I, like most of you, am caught up in the "Clean Eating" wave.  And I'm wanting to make changes in our lives, and eating habits, so that we can live not just long lives, but healthy, long lives.

Unfortunately, I am not a bandwagon kind of girl.  I'm not just going to throw my bread out the window because someone said it was bad for my gut, any more than I was willing to start using artificial sweeteners in the 80's because people said sugar was going to kill me.

Sure, there are terrible things that the food industry has done to turn good foods into bad ones and bad foods into "good" ones.  If you don't believe me, eat a fresh pineapple and then eat a canned one. You would never know you're eating the same food!

And remember Olestra?  The gift that was going to let us keep on eating our potato chips?  But later was pulled off the market because it caused "anal leakage"  (not kidding.  They had to write that on the bag as a warning!)  Funny thing is, we all knew we shouldn't be eating chips all the time, but we were willing to risk "anal leakage" in order to eat more chips!

My point is this.  I want to eat better.  I want my family to eat better.  But I don't want to live every day of my life stressed out about food.  In fact, I'm not going to.  I'm going to purposefully choose healthier foods every day.

I stopped frying foods long ago!  I stopped having dessert after every meal.  I stopped covering everything I ate or served with cheese.

I started eating brown rice and whole grain breads and pasta whenever possible.  I eat egg whites (and have for a lot of years).

But if a recipe calls for ketchup, I'm gonna be pretty okay to toss in that 2 tbsp of ketchup, even if it does have some sugar in it.

And if I occasionally want to order a pizza or better yet make one from scratch, I'm going to do that too.

And sometimes, every now and then, I might have a french fry or an egg yolk or a margarita.

In general, I know I need to do better.  But I know that if I go to an extreme, I'm not doing better.

I'm not saying people that have food allergies and digestion problems are extremists.  I know plenty of people who MUST be extreme because their bodies simply cannot process certain things.  Funny thing is, the people who are gluten free, sugar free, etc. because they are allergic to such things, tend to be the most balanced in their attitudes.  (Check out this blog as a good example.)  She doesn't update nearly as often as I wish, but she's balanced and just trying to do better for her family.

So I'm reading.  A lot.  And I'm experimenting. A lot.

And I am choosing to stress way less.

I'm taking it slowly.  One day at a time, one food at a time, one food group at a time!

All that to say, the skinny on clean eating for me is, well, to think about my long term health goals and those of my family, and to make consistently better choices every day.  Now, off to make a nice healthy and tasty version of sweet and sour chicken with fried rice (calm down, it's not actually fried.)


  1. this better be the last time you say "anal leakage" in your blog.

  2. OMGosh Zack! That made me laugh out loud!

  3. Well I am off to get some cookies. Whole grain oatmeal made without sugar or processed wheat or whatever. Yuck!!!

    Your husband


Thank you for reading. I look forward to hearing from you.