Healthy Eating Habits Start Early


planting a vegetable garden

I grew up eating healthy. My parents and grandparents had vegetable gardens, and I became accustomed to eating whole tomatoes picked off the vine, slices of lemon cucumbers with a sprinkle of salt, even sweet ears of corn from my grandparents’ rows of stalks. My mom was a good cook and I don’t remember ever not wanting to eat what was on the table. I believe healthy eating habits start early. I know I am lucky that my family was able to sit down to dinner together almost every night to eat a delicious balanced meal, and that my parents made it a priority. I strive to do this now for my family.

Now you’d think I would have been a label-reader all my life, making certain that I was eating healthy. Nope. I never read a label until I was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 32 and had to watch out for gluten in every bite of food I put in my mouth. Looking for gluten opened my eyes to something else – how much non-food stuff is in the food we eat! I truly couldn’t believe the ingredients in what I thought was just a basic pasta sauce or the lists of additives and preservatives in everything from meat to soup to snacks. Since being forced to read labels for gluten, I have become a more clean eater overall, staying away from foods with unnatural ingredients, opting instead for pure food, real food. I even have a (rather pathetic) vegetable garden of my own, which doesn’t measure up at all to my parents’ garden, but it’s a start!

And what about my children? It’s hard to believe, but they have never eaten gluten and they have never eaten at a fast food chain, aside from In-N-Out Burger which I consider the healthiest fast food available. No gluten because my children are at risk for developing celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. No fast food because I don’t believe we should be feeding our children that crap and I don’t think fast food companies should be allowed to sell that crap. Did I ever eat fast food as a kid? Yes, I did. Did it kill me? Yes. (Kidding – I’m still here!) Will my kids ever eat fast food? I’m sure they will. In fact, my kids will probably rebel big time against healthy food and against me! They’ll become gluten-grubbing, candy-craving fast-food-feasting monsters! But that’s okay, because I know that they’ll come around eventually and appreciate that their family sat down at the dinner table together and ate real food. And I like to think that they will have a garden of their own one day.

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