Positive approach needed to eating more healthfully

  • By Casey Seidenberg Special To The Washington Post
  • Monday, July 15, 2013 2:33pm
  • Life

Our country has a funny way of promoting health. When a typical American says he is getting healthy, his approach is often to cut “bad” foods or to eat less.

But when we try not to think about something, we usually think about it more. And when we tell ourselves we can’t have something, don’t we want it more? Children are especially susceptible to this behavior.

So call me Pollyanna, but I think a more positive approach to getting healthy is to think about the foods you can add to your diet to make it more healthful instead of what to subtract.

There are so many foods that taste delicious and leave us satisfied. Why does getting healthy have to imply restriction and deprivation? It might sound like spin, but, hey, spin sometimes works.

And believe it or not, as a nation, we are deficient in a slew of important nutrients. It’s the paradox: Americans are overfed yet undernourished. And every one of the nutrients in our food plays a vital role in the precise functioning of our body. When we are deficient, we become susceptible to disease.

Imagine a person whose body is flush with essential nutrients and one whose body is depleted. Most likely the former appears healthier, and maybe even happier.

The same applies to kids. A nutrient-rich kid has more energy, sleeps better, employs an active brain and produces more happy hormones.

So if the goal is to clean up your family’s diet, add. Don’t subtract. Add fresh fruits and vegetables to your child’s diet all day long, but don’t immediately confiscate his favorite snack foods, especially all at once.

Slowly begin placing air-popped popcorn on the table instead of prepackaged or microwaved, or a smoothie in his hands instead of an ice cream cone. Don’t tell him he can’t have the ice cream cone.

Just let him drink the smoothie first, and you might find he is no longer hungry for the ice cream. And if you discuss health, talk about all of the fantastic benefits raspberries, asparagus and summer tomatoes offer his body. Keep it positive.

I’d like my kids to grow up enjoying food, not seeing it as the enemy. This especially applies to my daughter, because our culture pays so much attention to women restricting their food intake in order to be thin.

So even if it sounds like spin and cliche, I say let’s eat. I want to raise children who look forward to fresh food and aren’t afraid of an occasional indulgence. That’s a healthy kid. And ultimately a healthy adult.

Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a Washington, D.C.-based nutrition education company.

More in Life

The “Hamilton” marquee at The Paramount in Seattle. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
Seattle’s ‘Hamilton’ is everything it’s hyped to be and more

The blockbuster musical at The Paramount in Seattle runs through March 18.

Andrea Rosen, mother of two, quit eating sugar more than 1,000 days ago. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
How kicking her sugar habit changed a Mill Creek mom’s life

Andrea Rosen quit eating sweets 3 years ago, lost weight, felt better and her family also benefited.

Beer of the Week: Hazy IPA, 4-Ways

Four Snohomish breweries decided to brew a single malt hazy IPA made with four different hops.

Tiny book “Tonic” packed with with homeopathic remedies

Tanita de Ruijt’s recipes help support your body’s natural defences and heighten your state of mind.

Exceptional eggplant: 4 recipes with the funny-shaped veggie

By Daniel Neman / St. Louis Post-Dispatch Let’s face it, eggplant is… Continue reading

How to roast Brussels sprouts to crispy goodness

Toss these compact cabbages with toss with homemade sweet and sour vinaigrette.

Ambiguity of ‘The Invisibility Cloak’ by Ge Fei is tantalizing

The story of a man offered to build an incredible sound system delves into odd turns and noir.

These tasty enchiladas take only 5 minutes in the microwave

Serve this Mexican-inspired turkey and refried bean dish with fried corn on the side.

Peanut butter helps West African-style stew find the ‘sweet spot’

This recipe is a colorful medley of sweet potatoes, tomato, bell pepper and collard greens.

Most Read