Eating in my house as a kid was probably a lot different than most other people. My mom is a registered dietitian, so we didn’t eat things like sugary cereals, Lunchables, or chips that a lot of kids in my school ate.
I didn’t always like the way we ate in my house when I was a kid, but I have so much appreciation for it now. A fun fact for those of you that don’t know, a registered dietitian is someone who has at least a bachelor’s degree and has passed the national exam. However, basically anyone with a small amount of knowledge about nutrition can call themselves a nutritionist.
With that said, here are some things about food I learned from my mom that have stuck with me.
1. “Drink your milk.”
Growing up, we drank skim milk with every meal in my house. We easily went through 10-12 gallons a week, and it probably would’ve been cheaper for my parents if they had just kept a cow in the backyard. I don’t drink milk with all my meals now, but I do add it into my oatmeal and protein shakes. I still love chocolate milk as much as I did when I was little.
2. “Eat your fruits and vegetables.”
I’m sure everyone’s mom told them this growing up, but my mom actually enforced it. We had to have fruit with our dinner every night, and she would always pack at least one type of produce in our lunches for school. I didn’t know that apparently we were the only family that did this, and always thought it was weird when I was at a friend’s house and they didn’t have any fruit with dinner.
3. “Don’t drink your calories.”
The only drinks we were allow to have were water, milk, and 100% fruit juice. I still listen to this one, and it’s probably for the best that I’m not downing 450 calories a day in Starbucks Frappuccinos (although I do love their coffee). The only time I drink my calories are my coffee and post-workout protein shakes.
4. “Stay away from sugary foods and drinks.”
Sugary cereals, sports drinks, white bread, and packaged baked goods never entered my house. The first time I had Lucky Charms cereal and Pop-Tarts, I was 11 at a friend’s house (sorry, Mom).
The highlight of my 10-year-old existence was when I got to eat half of my best friend’s peanut butter sandwich on white bread at lunch everyday. In elementary school, I used to love eating foods my mom didn’t buy or keep in the house. I’m glad I never really learned to like most of these foods, and I’m healthier today because of it.
5. “Always eat your breakfast.”
Every morning when I went downstairs, my mom was either sitting at the table eating breakfast, or her bowl was in the sink if she had left before I came down. Breakfast was a big meal in my house, and it’s still my favorite meal of the day. With so many delicious options, like eggs, pancakes, waffles, toast, cereal, and omelets, it’s easy to find something you like. Even with a busy college schedule, I make time for breakfast every morning so I’m not starving for the rest of the day.
6. “Limit how much candy you eat.”
My mom really didn’t like us eating a lot of candy, or any, for that matter, which is easy to understand considering how bad it is for you. I was never allowed to give out candy with Valentine’s Day cards at school, and we didn’t give out candy for Halloween at my house.
One year my mom actually paid me $20 to give her all of my Halloween candy except for three pieces. As a 10-year-old, that deal was a no-brainer for me since I got $20 and still got to eat some of my candy.
7. “Desserts should be treats.”
My mom always told us that desserts are called treats for a reason, because you should treat yourself to them and enjoy them occasionally. If you eat them everyday, they’re no longer a treat and you don’t enjoy them as much. When I was younger, we had desserts for special occasions like birthdays and holidays, and when we were on vacation. When we did have dessert, it was always homemade, which made it even more delicious.
8. “Everything in moderation.”
Just because I love chocolate doesn’t mean I eat it everyday. My mom taught me that eating things in moderation actually makes you enjoy them more. Nothing beats indulging in your favorite foods, especially when you don’t eat them everyday.
9. “Homemade food is the best food.”
Growing up, we sat down to a homemade family dinner almost every night. We got to help decide on the menu for the week, and sometimes I would help my dad with the grocery shopping. Home-cooked food is better for you (most of the time) and is always more delicious. When I’m at school, I definitely miss my dad’s cooking, especially his homemade tomato sauce.
I’m grateful that I learned these things when I was young, because now making healthy food choices is second nature to me.