When my girls and I were on our way to California for me to teach classes in San Diego and Fullerton recently (see photo below of the Fullerton class at BellySprout), one of my daughters brought Oprah up. “Mom,” she said, “Oprah is really amazing and accomplishes so much. But she keeps gaining weight. She loses it, but then she gains it all back again. Why is that?”
We puzzled over it as we drove and I realized something very important related to the Introduction to 12 Steps to Whole Foods where I address parenting children to eat well at some length.
That is, we tend to go back to what we learned as children. Oprah can avoid ever spending time in her kitchen and can dictate exactly what she wants to eat, because she’s been rich enough to pay a full-time cook for many years. So the #1 and #2 reasons I’m given to avoid shifting to a high-raw, plant-based diet don’t even apply to her. Those are (1) “I don’t have time to cook” and (2) “I can’t afford to eat right.”
But she was powerfully influenced by the Southern U.S. diet she was raised with: fried everything and lots of animal protein. Even having tremendous advantages of money and a hired help hasn’t been able to overcome that programming!
So it is with us. Let’s look at the positive side of that. If we raise our children to eat mostly vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, they certainly may stray. (I did for the first half of my 20’s, and you can read my story on the site.) But our children will always have the positive associations that came with eating according to correct principles throughout their childhood. (If you start now despite your children being half-raised, that’s still so much better than NEVER providing those learning opportunities.)
For me, the positive associations weren’t about those healthy foods I was raised with being comforting–my mother wasn’t a “food is love” person like some moms. She spent minimal time in food prep, wasn’t a good cook by anyone’s standards, and didn’t bother with artful presentation.
But I learned that I had energy and a positive mood, avoided illness, and stayed at an ideal weight back then when she fed us lots of raw fruits and vegs and legume/whole grain main dishes–and dessert only rarely, made with whole wheat and the sugar/butter cut in half. I feel sorry for people who never learned that in their childhood as I did! And so, after deviating for a number of years and not liking how I felt or looked, I came back to the “straight and narrow path” of eating simple, whole, plant foods. It’s a lot easier to RETURN to it than it is to INVENT it from scratch as an adult.