Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Eat Your Mac-n-Cheese!

Last month, I was grabbing a quick lunch at a local eatery. A group was seated at the table next to me. It appeared to be grandparents with their 2 grandchildren. There was an infant in a high chair, and a 4 year old boy.

Grandma ordered for the kids. Each child was to have macaroni and cheese with, gulp, french fries. My personal trainer's face flashed in front of my eyes. I felt the same pain she would had she been present. I thought about the problems we Americans have with high cholesterol, childhood (not to mention adult) obesity and a variety of other diet related ailments.

I comforted myself by thinking that maybe this was a once in a blue moon 'fun' meal out with grandma and grandpa. Maybe they ate healthier on an every day basis. Grandparents are supposed to spoil and indulge their grand kids, right? Maybe that's what I was seeing.

The waiter brought the food and set the plate of mac-n-cheese and french fries in front of the 4 year old. On the plate next to the oozing fat and carbohydrates was a small, shiny, red apple. The kid gleefully reached for the apple and exclaimed, "Oooooooh! An apple!" He lifted it to his mouth to take a bite, and his grandpa slapped his hand and said, "NO! That's for after. You eat your Mac and Cheese!"

I was stunned. I am a bit fearful that I was sitting there with my jaw on the ground, staring in disbelief at what I was seeing.

The kid, instinctively went for the healthiest thing on the plate, and he got in trouble for it. He was discouraged from eating the one healthy thing in front of him, and encouraged to eat the mound of fat laden, pretty much empty calories!


Many of us grew up in an era when good nutrition wasn't really a focus. There have been revisions since we were kids, as to what comprises a healthy, life sustaining diet. Some of us, it seems, haven't caught up with the new knowledge.

As someone who has struggled with my weight and with food issues, I am super sensitive to the programming of children with regards to eating and body image. It breaks my heart to see kids get messed up so early on their eating habits!

In my opinion, we all come in to this life with healthy impulses. They have to be trained out of us. Sometimes through ignorance, sometimes through misguided attempts to control and manipulate.

The good news is that it is never too late to revamp and overhaul our 'programing' and our 'training.'

As master Yoda says, we must 'unlearn what we have learned.' Indeed. All of us have some 'unlearning' to do.

Some of our training has been unhealthy. It is our responsibility to 'unlearn' this destructive training and 'reprogram' ourselves. It is not only possible, it is necessary.

Don't eat your mac and cheese. Go for the APPLE!