When I was 11 or 12, my parents took me to a dietitian. Evidently they felt my weight was getting out of hand and thought a professional might be able to help me. I remember sitting in her (the dietitian's) office feeling…invisible. She mostly talked to my parents and made food and beverage suggestions for me…to them. One thing I remember her recommending was that I would drink mostly diet drinks. So for the next few weeks, my parents tried to implement some of her dietary recommendations, including buying cases of diet drinks for me. At the time, I absolutely hated the taste of diet drinks! Subsequently, not only did I not commit to the dietary changes suggested, but I believe I also started sneaking and eating more junk food in secret. I DID NOT LOSE ANY WEIGHT. IN FACT, I GAINED WEIGHT. I firmly believe that the unrealistic, non-specific, non-customized recommendations created for me caused me to eat more. Point black—her plan didn’t work for me. And from then on, when I thought about this dietitian (I don’t remember her name or even what she looked like), I believed she was the worst dietitian in the world. And honestly, she is one of the major reasons why I got into the field of nutrition (so maybe I should thank her?).
By the time I got to high school, I resolved in my mind that I wanted to do what she did, but do it better. I wanted to create plans (general or customized) to actually help people lose weight or just live healthier lives. I wanted to create something that would be relevant and realistic for the individual. You see, my biggest issue with the dietitian was not that her dietary recommendations were wrong (they might have worked if I had of followed them). It was more so that when I was in the room with her and my parents, she did not engage me to want to make any changes. SHE DID NOT TALK TO ME. Yes, I believe parents play a vital role in creating and monitoring the dietary habits of their kids. But if you want it to stick, it has to be made relevant for the child. The child has to have some type of invested interest in it. One of the most valuable and successful ways to do this is to have the child help you cook the meals, or if it’s simple, let them make creative healthy snacks and lunches on their own. Children tend to be more interested in the food and will usually even eat more of something that they made with their own hands (so will adults).
So for creative ideas of making healthy foods with kids, visit the links below.
Until next time…
Jenelle N. Robinson