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Having Fun With Healthy Food To Be Healthy

by Michael on April 27, 2008

(Please feel free to listen to this recording if you prefer.)

There are three basic reasons I decided to write this post…

First: Lots of People Think Eating "Health Food" Is Like a Punishment

If things are fun people tend to do them – and vice versa. Many people have the perception that healthy food is not fun. There is some type of association with health food as being boring or tasteless or monotonous.

One reason is that many people think vegetarian fare is dull. When properly prepared vegetables and fruits offer a wonderful variety of flavors and textures. Over the years some of the healthiest people I have known are vegetarians, and they are rarely – if ever – overweight.

Another reason for this belief may be rooted in the many failed attempts in the food industry. Things like making potato chips with less fat that taste terrible. Or maybe from eating tofu raw the first time on a salad without seasoning it properly. Fat tastes good, low-fat does not as a rule – or at least not as good.

A lot of this stems from poor recipes and from diet habits that have been handed down to kids from their parents. Fewer families than ever enjoy cooking together and sharing their love of good food and interactive meals. Good cuisine is becoming a lost art and more and more families rely on fast food restaurants for many meals on the run during the busy work week.

These kinds of experiences do not reflect my experience – because I love healthy food. But I also have a fairly well developed palate and love good tasting foods. My experience is that – although it has taken time – we have learned how to eat foods we love that are: 

  • balanced nutritionally
  • provide all the energy our busy lifestyles require and
  • really taste good

Second: Eating Should Be Associated With Fun and Feeling Good

Part of healthy eating – and a lifestyle of health and abundance – is tied to sharing good food and good times with family and friends. Laughing together and sharing companionship and enjoying the time and exchange in the repast – a modern day version of a feast on a different scale.

In many respects, we have taken the fun out of eating by taking the communication out of the experience, by being in too big a hurry to relax and enjoy the food and by relying so heavily as a culture on FAST FOOD.

There is no reason why fast food has to be junk food – with "CHEAP FILLER CALORIES" and very little nutritional food value.

We owe it to our kids to have fun with healthy food.

Third: A News Article in the New Milford Times: Healthy Food: a Tough Sell

This is a disturbing article in a way because it’s pretty demonstrative of the culture we have created in our kids about food. I wrote about this article on Newsvine healthy-food-a-tough-sell. But at least somebody is starting to address the issue publicly.

Why not create the association in children’s minds that having fun with healthy food:

  • is what cool kids do
  • feels really good to feel really good
  • makes you smarter (brain food)
  • makes you happy
  • makes people like you

Mc Donalds got this right a long time ago…

At least the happy part.

They created Ronald McDonald and "Happy Meals".

The first version of the origin of Ronald McDonald involves Willard Scott , who performed using the moniker "Ronald McDonald, the Hamburger-Happy Clown" in 1963 on three separate television spots. These were the first three television ads featuring the character…

We know this concept works because we now several generations of "fast fooders" that were kids in the 60’s who grew up knowing they’ll be happy if they eat enough McDonald’s food. In 45+ years, I think I may have eaten maybe 12 burgers from McDonalds personally. I ate the fries quite a few times. Almost always it was when I was traveling and there was nothing else open late at night.

Since we know this template works, let’s apply the template to having fun with healthy food.

Let me give you examples…

When my first daughter was about to be born, I sold my house in California and drove to Summertown, TN to Steven Gaskin’s Farm to have the baby naturally without hospitals or drugs.

At the time, the midwives at The Farm had already delivered over 2500 babies with less than 3 % c-section.

Children and Fresh Organic Fruits

While we were there, I used to drive from Summertown to Nashville (about 60 miles away) and bring back fresh organic fruits for the kids who lived in the house where I was staying as a guest.

Talk about having fun…

As soon as the kids would hear my van coming down the drive, they all got excited and came out to greet me. I felt like the Pied Piper…

having-fun-with-healthy-food I’d pull out a ripe organic watermelon and take it to the picnic table behind the house. In no time there would be 8-10 kids stuffing their face into and slurping a big piece of watermelon.

Now this was fun. There was joy and laughter and happy kids – this was truly having fun with healthy food.

(This picture is not an actual picture from the Farm but seemed to convey the message quite well.)

Baking Fresh Organic Wheat Bread

Another example was baking organic whole wheat bread (using the double rise recipe from Laurel’s Kitchen) on Sunday mornings before my kids got up and watching them walk down the hall rubbing their eyes saying, "Dad can I have some bread ?" as the smell of fresh baked bread wafted through the house. They loved that bread and usually consumed a loaf or two – hot with butter – before the eat-fest was finished.

Learn how to cook healthy recipes, which of your local restaurants serve a healthy menu and find out about using a Vitamix for natural raw food fruit desserts, enzyme rich soups and refreshing health drinks of all kinds.

Get involved. Start learning how to prepare and learn about having fun with healthy foods – and share what you find out with your friends and family. Start holding your school district and politicians who represent you accountable for child nutrition in your schools. Suggest healthy recipes for your church functions and athletic events.

Here are some other links about having fun with healthy food:

  • Market Bounty
  • – Farmer’s Markets are a healthy cooking lover’s best friend. So much fresh, healthy food it’s hard to avoid super healthy meals! My parents are big market people so I’ve gone all my life and have been surrounded by yummy market produce. …

  • Xbox 360 Sponsors National Family Fitness Day [Fitness]
  • – If ingredient contents sound too complicated, it is probably not a healthy choice. Get the whole family involved in meal preparation. It can be fun time spent together, and it is certainly healthier than fast-food alternatives. …

  • 100 Simple Ways to Change Your Life for the Better
  • – Cut down on junk food: Junk food has a nasty way of bringing your health down, so avoid it whenever possible, opting instead for healthy food like fresh fruits and vegetables. Practice good dental hygiene: Researchers have found that …

  • Developing Healthy Eating Habits Amongst Kids
  • – Activities like shopping for food and preparing meals are fun time for children. Both, parents and children learn about each other’s food preferences and enjoy the time spent together. what do you eat on the fat smash diet. …

  • Life Extension By Eating Blackberries?
  • – Having that colorful plate also helps our children learn the importance of eating a variety of foods. And discovering which foods they like in each part of the color pallet can be an adventure ? and fun ? for them. …

  • Eating Healthy in Wisconsin with Nutritious Sauerkraut Pork Chops
  • – Because of its nutrition and long shelf-life, sauerkraut has been a staple food of peoples in northern climates for centuries. From Germany to northern China our ancestors survived and prospered with fermented cabbage. …

Having fun with healthy food can be a family experience, a school experience or a personal experience. Personally I prefer all three.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mary June 6, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Great photo! (baby / watermelon) — would you be willing to let the Oregon Public Health Association use it on their website? (OPHA is a 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit, so your photo would not be used for commercial purposes!)

Thanks!
Mary

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