I just recently realized I have an obsession with food.
Yes, I know for most of you that know me you may be thinking, “Really, you just now figured that out?”
And I answer, yes. But it’s not the kind of obsession of how many calories in versus how many calories I burn off or can I eat this and not get fat, kind of obsession. Not that I haven’t done that in the past, and quite frankly, I think that kind of obsession created a weight problem for me at one time. But when I decided to quite worrying about food that way and started looking at food differently, like what’s it really made of, I started looking and feeling better.
I read nutrition labels, cookbooks, articles on food and recipes like novels. Many of the stories I write for Green Living Magazine have some kind of food component in them. In fact I recently did a story about waste generated at football sporting events and I wasn’t too excited about it until I came across this little nugget:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) food waste is the number one item being thrown into landfills.
This information got me excited about the story. No, not because of the amount and detriment to the environment this causes (which are huge by the way – food waste produces methane that escapes into the ozone if it isn’t composted), but because of the connection between food and the environment.
I have long been a proponent of whole, healthy REAL food. Food that is close to its natural origins, even if it is meat or chicken. If you look at it you should be able to recognize what it is.
As I have become more “obsessed” with this aspect of food I also become more aware of my son’s eating habits. I do my best not to make food an issue, but I want him to understand choices he makes when it comes to food. For instance he does not like walnuts. But I tell him to try them every now and then. To at least see if he likes them prepared this way or that. I let him know why they are good for him and then let it go. Because as a kid I HATED walnuts, I hated all nuts. In fact I remember my mother, aunts and grandmother always trying to get us to eat them. They would hide them in things or put them in baked things they didn’t want to share with us (hmmmm….smart!).
But you know what? I LOVE them now. I will eat them raw, put them on a salad, eat them in cookies. I really like them. So I’ve been thinking about this for a while. If I hated them then but love them now ( and there are many more foods in my life like that now, brussels sprouts, broccoli, avocado etc.) how’d I get there?
And if I did, maybe my son will too.
So last night as I popped pistachio after pistachio into my mouth while we waited for our dinner to arrive I asked my mother about her childhood experiences with flavors and food. She said she didn’t like avocados as a kid but loves them now. And she’s even starting to like peas now and she didn’t when I was growing up.
I told her I thought growing to like “good for you foods” had to do with early exposure to “real” food, like what she and I grew up with. My grandparents (her parents) were farmers and didn’t believe in processed or packaged food and what they made came from vegetables, fruits or meats from the butcher. Both our early childhood food experiences were with unprocessed foods.
I continued to mull it over as I devoured (and enjoyed) my delicious Windsor Country Vegetable Chop salad of kale, brussel sprouts, radish, avocado and crispy okra (of which I also hated as a child!).
Turns out I may be right.
In the Scientific American, journalist Brian Mossop writes in his article titled “Can We Be Trained to Like Healthy Foods?”
Now, an increasing number of scientists and physicians wonder if our propensity for unhealthy, obesity-inducing eating might be tied to the food choices made during our first weeks and months of life. Indeed, the latest research indicates that what we learn to like as infants paves the way for what we eat as adults.
I can relax a little about my son’s diet. He loves broccoli, he loves carrots and prefers real apples to apple juice. His first “baby food” was avocado (hates it now by the way). I tried to make sure he ate a variety of “yucky” foods that were barely processed or not at all. But it still doesn’t stop me from freaking out that I may not have done a good enough job ~ happily though, my mom has sound and a sage advice:
Just keep doing what you are doing, and don’t worry so much honey, he’ll be fine.
Then I think, okay, she’s right. And maybe I’ve also finally found a place for my obsession and passion for my job as a journalist, mother and foodie. Maybe I can help other moms, families and people learn to eat and live healthier and better one post at a time.