As a seven year old girl growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota, little did I know I would begin my journey to become the Down-to-Earth Dietitian. A gardening dietitian. Running through the grass to the garden as a child, left me lingering awhile amongst the soil, bugs and plants. It was here I would get caught up in the sensory experience of the garden, with earthly aromas of herbs like basil and rosemary, plump tomatoes hanging low on the vine and the swaying asparagus that had finally gone to seed. It was here where I harvested fresh vegetables for family meals around the table, including that asparagus (still not my favorite vegetable, though!). While it sounds picturesque, it really was just a space filled with vegetable plants. A large garden that required a lot of weeding. Yet, it’s because of that experience, I continue to garden today – nearly 30 years later.
So many of our lifelong food habits are created while we are young children. So many times I have asked clients about their eating habits after a medical diagnosis of diabetes or heart disease and they would continuously point to habits that were created when they were kids, saying “My mom always…used salt in her cooking…made sure we had dessert with every meal…wanted a clean plate by the end of the meal.” and on and on it would go.
Time for you to try it. Go to your pantry or cupboard and open the door. Are their any foods you purchase that you’ve been eating since you’ve been a child that you now purchase for your family? What about food habits that have carried over from childhood? Favorite recipes? When we think about the brands we buy in the grocery store, our favorite comfort meals, our childhood memories involving food (whether positive or negative), they all begin with one common thread: the influence of our mothers. And according to the Project EAT study by the University of Minnesota, a mom has the single biggest impact on a family’s eating habits.
Moms can make all the difference. Whew, that feels like a lot of pressure.
Change of perspective: It’s really just about motivation.
Motivation to do better. Motivation to truly nourish our families with food that sustains and helps with growth. To nourish our family with habits that will sustain health long into the future. Hey, with this power, we can truly shape the future! (Now’s the time to watch this TEDx presentation I recorded last year – it’s 14 minutes of motivation!)
So, I want you to think of one thing today. Ask yourself: What’s one area you are making a positive difference on your child’s eating habits? (Share your answer in the comments).
If there is one thing I could encourage you to do this spring, it would be this: Start a vegetable garden with your family. Here’s why:
- When we plant a garden as a family, it affects family eating habits for the better allowing us as moms to nourish our family with a meal that’s packed with fruits and vegetables because they are right outside our door!
- Starting a garden now will create positive memories for our children (that can translate to lifelong gardening and healthier eating)!
- Gardening is a stress reliever, in fact just 30 minutes of gardening contributes to a happier mood.
- A garden produces fresh and healthy fruits and vegetables in a cost-efficient way. In fact, a well-maintained home food garden can produce a ½ pound of fresh produce per square foot (worth on average $2.00/pound).
- Need I say, it’s fun?! And easy!
What we do today, matters tomorrow. Soon, I will be sharing how to decide what to plant in your vegetable garden.
Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a post in this gardening series!