Saturday, August 15, 2009

In The Beginning...

I have been aware of the impact of food on health since a very early age. I have to credit my mother for this, she always made sure we ate well even when there wasn't a lot of money for groceries. My childhood diet was far removed from what I see children eating now-junk food simply never made an appearance. We ate whole wheat bread, fruit and vegetables which were home grown whenever possible, lean cuts of meat which were also home grown, and on the rare special occasion, homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I am not sure of my exact age, but I know I had to be above the age of five before I tasted a soda for the first time, thankfully a taste I never acquired. Now that I'm older, I am amazed that she was able to feed our family like that. We had very little money when I was a child, and the usual excuse for not eating well is almost always the expense. When I was a teenager working at the local grocery store, if someone was paying with food stamps the cart was inevitably filled with chips, soda, sweets, and processed dinners. In the year and a half that I worked there, I had ONE customer pay with food stamps that got produce and healthy breads and soups. This is not to knock people who are on food stamps, it is an extremely common misconception that healthy foods are too expensive and I'm sure they were trying to get the most food they could to feed their family. Years later in college, I wrote a flyer for that grocery store which outlined how to eat healthy on a budget, and compared common junk foods with more nutritious options. I was pleased to see that section of the flyers empty on a regular basis. It meant people were listening.
Anyway, I'm getting off topic. My mother was very creative with her meals but not in a way that is impossible for others to do. She is a very good cook and would make spaghetti sauce from scratch, macaroni and cheese, (which I still cannot master to save my life,) homemade soups, stews, casseroles, etc. We never ate canned food, processed food, or "kid" food. There was a vegetable every night that was either fresh or frozen and fruit throughout the day. Cereal was plain Cheerios, Kix, Rice Krispies, and we were not allowed to have sugar on it. Once in a while if she was in the right mood, we would be treated to Honey Nut Cheerios. To this day I find these cereals to be delicious and the sugary options to be way too sweet to handle.
I remember the conversation that made me decide that I wanted to know more about food and nutrition. I was 12 years old and my grandparents were babysitting while my parents were out of town. My grandfather has Type II diabetes and he was discussing his most recent meeting with his dietician. He spoke so highly of her, and I could tell this was someone he had a lot of respect for. He was saying that he loved going to someone who lived what she preached, and was saying how her skin and eyes were so clear, her hair was so shiny, and she was in great physical shape. We talked about her for maybe 15 minutes but the impact of that conversation was huge for me. From that moment on, I wanted to eat to be healthy like her. Health became my favorite class in school, and my 7th grade health teacher was my all time favorite teacher. I then went on to major in Community Health with a concentration in nutrition, and all of this was a direct result of this 15 minute conversation that I had when I was 12.
The purpose of this blog is to hopefully show people the myths that surround food and diet today. We are fed so much crap about food through the media, and I hope to set the record straight on some of it. I graduated college in 2007, but nutrition and eating well are my passion and I continue to research and read about it in my spare time. I will share what I learn, and I am always open to questions and suggestions from anyone who would like to offer anything.


Marcy said...

Rachel, This information is fabulous! How special it was that a talk with your grandfather led you on a pursuit of studying health and nutrition in college. You have a wealth of knowledge to share with others regarding health and wellness. Our society needs to look at food differently and you can help! Good luck with your blog! Marcy