When someone finds out I’m vegetarian they have a tendency to assume that means I’m super healthy. Because of course vegetarians live on rabbit food, lentils and goji berries. Well unfortunately the majority of crisps, chips and chocolate are also veggy so, no, I’m not as healthy as I should be. Don’t get me wrong I probably eat a lot less saturated fats than a red meat eater but those crisps are just so tempting…
I think my family and I have a fairly good attitude to food. We eat reasonably healthily, no food is banned outright and we have plenty of treats. My children have sweets sometimes. They get crisps in their lunch box once or twice a week and the occasional biscuit or cake. They have a proper breakfast (which is more than I usually manage) and a cooked meal once a day. We don’t have ready meals (far too expensive and usually pretty bland) and they have five portions of fruit or veg a day (again I am far less likely to manage that despite my veggy status!) I am pretty certain they are as healthy as they can be.
But I do worry about the influence I might have on their attitudes. I don’t do faddy diets – just don’t see the point – but I have attended Weight Watchers and Slimming World in the past and I have tried to make sure they both know it’s not a diet it’s just eating healthily. Let’s face it we all know ‘eat less and exercise more’ but how many of us actually stick to it? I don’t want to go without something and for either my son or daughter to know it’s because I want to lose weight. The last thing I want is for them to equate thin with ‘good.’
Of course it’s not just down to me, while I’m in charge of the food side I’m pretty certain they will be fine, but what about the years to come and outside pressures on how they ‘should’ look. My son, 9, has already asked if he has a six pack (no, they’re just your ribs.)
It’s not just girls that worry about the way they look but there is a lot of pressure on them from TV and magazines. I won’t buy the celebrity mags now, they are so awful. But the Disney princesses and fairies have tiny waists and let’s not get started on Barbie!
So how do you teach children that healthy is good but doesn’t mean thin is best? I’m hoping that having a sensible attitude to food will be a good start. so pass me the crisps – and a handful of goji berries.