Eating Too Much Junk? It’s Not Your Fault.


Fat bagel

He stretched his arms out with great force, toward his goal. He was not going to take no for an answer.  I offered the apple, cheese and blueberries but got a flat rejection. I tried to reason, “No, not for Finn, for Mama. Finn has his own food,” but the explanation only fueled his determination – his unwavering determination to get his hands on the forbidden fruit muffin- the banana muffin I bought that morning at the coffee shop. I was able to sneak it past the counter and behind the stroller but the crinkle of the bag gave it away and it was all over. No way was he going to settle for the fruit when I got the muffin.

It is through my 17 month old that I am seeing how strongly we are influenced to eat what others eat.  We’ve all had those brunch moments when we salivate over the stack of pancakes at the table next to us, but our dining partner orders the egg-white omelet and all of a sudden it’s “Make that two.”  I can’t remember the last time I ate French fries alone (likely never) and I will only order dessert if I can count on the other person eating at least two spoonfuls.

I have a game I now play with Finn, where when I’m trying to get him to eat something, I start to feed it to him, then change course and eat it myself.  This fails 50% of the time but makes him laugh 100% of the time, so we persist. Sometimes I think he’s quite pleased to see that the undesirable substance will be eaten by me since there’s no way it’s going in HIS mouth.

And it’s not just what I eat that influences what he eats, but even more profoundly – what I have him cook.  If I can get Finn to actually cook the food with me, all of a sudden that 50% success rate goes up to 80%. He used to like eggs, but all of a sudden eggs were out. Spat out. Then I noticed how much fun he was having playing with the whisk and I had an “a-ha” moment. (Kind of like when the light goes on in the Grinch’s head when he realizes how he can stop Christmas  – remember that?) Anyway, I saw the whisk and decided it was time for an egg-stirring lesson.  I got Finn up on the step-stool, at the counter, pulled the egg carton out of the fridge, held my hand over his hand as we cracked the egg into a bowl, and with his favorite utensil (the whisk) we stirred the egg. Then we poured it into the hot pan, added some cheese and guess what was gobbled up 5 minutes later… every last bit of egg.

So if you want to eat real food and eat healthier, hang out with people that eat the way you want to eat. And if you want someone in your life to eat something they hate, hand them a cookbook – and a whisk.

How do YOU find motivation to eat more healthfully?



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