Friday, May 7, 2010

Our Eating Habits Started With Mom

I have a truly wonderful mother. She is up there in years but proudly boasts she can do anything her niece, who is 30 years younger, can do. And better, she likes to add. And she can.

One thing my mother did, was get me started in the wonderful world of food, both in the eating and the cooking department. My first food was chocolate. Mom couldn't resist my big brown eyes pleading with her for a taste of the 5¢ Hershey bar she was eating. She caved, and I still have a difficult time resisting sweets.

The family always sat down to dinner together and the meals were invariably well-balanced. Whether we liked what she was serving or not, my brother and I had to sit at the dinner table until we finished what we were given. We became bona-fide members of the Clean Plate Club. If we refused, we were reminded that children were starving in Europe. And if we finished, our reward was dessert. For me, having dessert was worth eating the baked halibut I always hated, along with the canned peas and carrots and the Rice-a-Roni or whatever Mom had prepared.

As a baby boomer growing up in the 50's, we experienced the evolution of the convenience food era. Processed foods were revered as being time savers for housewives. It was the casserole decade, meat and canned soup combos ended up in the oven and served for supper. Aluminum trays featuring TV dinners became popular and if we were lucky we'd set up a stand in front of the television and devour Swanson's idea of dinner. Powdered pudding and cake mixes became popular. An excess of sugar, salt and chemicals were added to our diets.

There were almost always sweets in the house. The bread drawer was one of my favorite places. I'd surreptitiously slide open the drawer, pull back the metal lid and forage for whatever was available, careful to make it look as though it hadn't been touched, taking off a sliver here and a wedge there. If confronted, I could always blame it on my younger brother.

I still am a member in good standing of the Clean Plate Club and don't feel satisfied unless I get dessert. Of course, my eating habits have changed, along with my food choices, but I still clean my plate!

Years of eating habits are hard to change. I try to stay away from processed foods and have cut down drastically on sugar and salt. Canned food has little or no place in my diet and desserts are, sadly, a thing of the past for now. Mom did establish a lot of good habits and I certainly can't blame my weight problem on her. For all the dieting that I've done in my life, my mother has always been slim and trim. Perhaps I have my father's genes and that side of the family's propensity to be overweight. Whatever the reason, it has been a lifelong struggle, but a battle that I am finally winning.

So this Mother's Day, I'd like to thank mothers everywhere, for all they have done for us. And for today's mothers for steering their children in healthy directions at the dinner table.

What about you? Has your mother made you what you are today when it comes to eating? Or did she instill good eating habits that you still maintain today?


FOODalogue said...

Very nice piece...nostalgic. It brought back some memories.

Karen@WaistingTime said...

My mother probably laid a foundation for much better eating habits than I developed. And she herself never has issues with food and easily handles moderation. But there certainly were unhealthy snacks in the house and a love for ice cream:)

Big Clyde said...

Oh, I remember those tv dinners and all the processed food. I really think that our parents didn't realize the habits that were being formed in us. My mom is struggling with the after-effects now of poor eating and a very sedentary lifestyle. I love her so much.

Jules - Big Girl Bombshell said...

Great post. Yes, my Mom laid the foundation for my eating habits and none too healthy. I use to be a member of the clean plate club. I let my membership expires several years ago. I always leave at least one bite on the plate.
I started cooking dinners when I was 10 because Mom worked nights. A main staple was banquet fried chicken, instant mashed potatoes and a can of green beans.
I am re=learning all these basics but it is all worth it.

Lucy said...

Oh yeah. There are generations of women behind my mother, all relaying their food influences on me. Every single woman going back as many generations as I have photographs of was overweight. But they still used food as "power". Food = Love, apparently. (But I will be the one to break the chain, to break the habits of girls will eat instinctively from hunger, not for comfort or love)

Stephen said...

Truthfully, my mom did contribute to my bad eating habits, and although I still live with her (sadly, I'm 30), I have learned to control my eating and also say no to my mother.

We all have our battles, and I'm happy to see that you're winning.


Patrick said...

My mother didn't set the tone much for what to eat in terms of healthy vs. unhealthy to the degree that either she or I think of it today. But she did give us unconditional memberships to the Clean Plate Club. She developed her sense of healthy eating in her late 40's when she decided to drop a bunch of weight and get healthy. Until then, and when we were kids, she didn't make meals that were overly unhealthy, they simply weren't as balanced as we know they should be today and we were allowed to do seconds, or thirds before dessert.

Today as a 40-something parent myself, my wife & I have the kids in the Clean Plate Club also, but they are asked to finish what they put on their plate. They've learned to not have eyes bigger than their stomachs. Now in a moment of honesty, my wife & I are just getting going on our missions to get healthy. So until very recently we also approached serving meals similar to my mom.

In no way do I blame my mom,or anyone, for the bad eating habits I've chosen for much of my adult life. I learned long ago what healthy eating was, what a healthy lifestyle is, I just chose to ignore it until very recently.

Mom did everything she was supposed to do for us and more. She fed us, clothed us, sheltered us, educated us, and set us up to become our own people and survive in a competitive world. Thanks Mom - Happy Mother's Day!

Anonymous said...

Oh boy, yes habits really do start with momma. I remember when I was a bit younger (a BABY!) that I HAD to clean my plate before I get up from the table.

And talk about processed food? Growing up Mickie D's WAS the palce to eat almost every weekened. It was just too easy.

Great post. I had to start cooking at a very young age (13ish, young for me at least) and I certainly learned a lot. But like they say, some things you have to re-learn the right way.

Anyway, have you seen this yet? I'm going around trying to get opinions on this shocking website i discovred on Digg the other day.

This story is causing all sorts of controvery in our little weight loss community (because of the title) but I assure you..

The story inside is so touching that I cried when I reached page 15. The way she felt, and how she withdrew from the situation just hits home for me so hard.

Anyway, you can see what all the fuss is about foryourself here:

I hope you'll share this with your readers and help spread the word! This is too good to pass up.

Have a great day!

Jennifer "Chelly" Lauffer

Mimi said...

My mom is the inspiration for my 1972 WW blog. She actually followed that crazy program back then. We have the exact same eating/dieting habits. Both good and bad!

Googie said...

Even after working hard at her job, EVERY night my mother would make a full course meal. Now I see why I like going out to dinner so much. We never went out when I was a kid and I love it now!! LOL

Genie @ Diet of 51 said...

We had much of the same food childhood. I loved the smell of those old Hershey bar wrappers. How weird is that?

My mom eats like a bird. She's the only person I know that can eat one chip. ONE! My hearty eating habits can be traced to my dad's family and to my mom's mom. Good old Grandma and many bowls of soothing ice cream, pudding, and more ice cream....

Too many relationships with food forged at such an early age. If only it could all be undone....

LOL about the TV dinner. BLECH!

Denise said...

My mom never let us have instant dinners in the house (although that's almost all that she and my dad eat now that it's just them at home and they have a microwave) - she always cooked dinner for us even after working as a nurse at a hospital for 10 hours at a time. I wish that I had followed in her footsteps in terms of cooking at home after work (even if not in her high-fat, high-simple starch menus), but instead I am the Queen of Take-Out, which probably explains why she's a normal weight, even at 71, and I'm obese.

Nona said...

Lovely post!!! In my household (Barbados) the starving children were from Ethiopia and in my husband's (Britain) they were from India.

Anyway, in my household fish was eaten alot because we were an island and it was cheap. We grew lots of our own vegetables and fruit and so there was always lots of fresh produce for our meals. My mother was very strict about sweet things and we only had dessert on weekends. I resented her restrictions on sweet things in the household and use to steal change from my father's pockets to buy sweets when I went to school. When I began to put on weight no one could understand it because they (my mother and sisters) were very slim.

Bringing Pretty Back said...

oh yes! My mom worked at a restaurant that made home made donuts and she'd bring them home every day. That with huge sit down dinners... Food was always a big part of life.

Bobbie's Babbles said...

Great post. My mom and dad ate 3 meals a day. Dinner was always a meat, carb and veggie, and we always started with a salad or fruit. They weren't always the healthiest, but back then, they were what was served. Somewhere around 14, I started using food to "make me feel better". My folks, sister and brother have never used food for emotional reasons. How lucky they are!!

Anonymous said...

Love this one!

My mom tried, but failed...she had 3 kids, and an often out of work husband thanks to the 1970's 80's our meals weren't varied much and were often what ever was inexpensive but this day I'm not very adventurous when it comes to my diet...

Linda Pressman said...

I don't know how I'm getting to this so late, Ellen!

Being the child of immigrants, I was raised with no desserts, more like running, crazed, after the Good Humor truck as it hightailed it out of my neighborhood each evening! My parents understood old country food, nothing processed, main categories, and no clean plate club. They fed us till we stopped eating, so the chubby sisters got chubbier and the skinny sisters stayed that way!

I figure no matter how I was raised, once I tasted the really good stuff and could start obsessing about it, I was a lost cause anyway, and now, at 50, there's just no fairness to it. I eat less of everything and gain in the blink of an eye!