Tuesday, December 29, 2009

You Are What You Eat

This weekend we went out to lunch with some friends. At one point the conversation turned to nieces and nephews who are picky eaters. One of our friends relayed a story about her niece who is about 10 years old and said, "I don't like that" in response to what they were having for dinner. My friend said, "Well, we are also having this so you can eat that if you like." The niece said she didn't like that either so my friend responds with "Well, there is peanut butter in the pantry if you would like to make yourself a sandwich." As it turns out, the niece wanted someone else to make her a sandwich as opposed to doing it herself! I have been thinking about this all week, because you see this kind of thing A LOT these days whether it is a child or young adult telling their host that they don't like something or a 4 year old who won't eat anything but chicken nuggets and fries!

When I was little, Mom had a pretty tight grocery budget. I know she once made 1 pound of ground beef last 5 meals! But she always managed to put food on the table. It might not have been foods we liked, but it always consisted of the nutrients we needed. I have mentioned before the important lessons my parents taught me about money. If there is anything else they taught me that has been as useful as what they taught me about money, then it would have to be what they taught me about food. When I was growing up, if mom cooked it, then you ate it because you weren't getting anything else. There are several foods I am to this day not a huge fan of, but I always eat them if someone goes to the trouble of making them. You never know, one day I might start liking lima beans! I also learned that you should never put more on your plate than you can eat because those leftovers could be saved for another meal. Once it was threatened that I would have to eat the ketchup I had put on my plate with a spoon! I will admit I still have a little problem with this one.....probably because growing up in a large family I also learned that if you don't get it the first time it goes around, you won't be getting any!! Of everything I learned around the dinner table growing up, I think it all boils down to learning to value and truly appreciate the food you have to eat.

I think the kind of eating habits and behavior we are seeing in younger generations is just another sign of how spoiled and unappreciative our society has gotten as a whole. Used to be whether you liked it or not when dinner was served you sat down and ate it without complaining because at least you had the good fortune of actually HAVING dinner that night. I really think society has done younger generations a huge disservice by not engendering an appreciation for having food to eat. What we end up with is a society full of people who don't know what a balanced diet is, who don't like foods that are good for them, who are very picky eaters, who go to a dinner party and tell the host, "I don't like that," and who are generally ungrateful. When you really think about it, the saying, "You are what you eat" takes on a whole new meaning.

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