Ever since my now almost one and a half year old daughter began eating people food, my husband and I joked, “if only we ate more like Emma…” Then, one day, I said, “why not?”
Each morning, I would add fresh blueberries and banana slices to her oatmeal or cut up bright strawberries and apple along side her bowl of yogurt or throw slivers of avocado and tomato on her plate of scrambled eggs. I would add only olive oil and ground pepper to her grilled salmon; her chicken, lean, and also free of sauce, butter, and extras. I was placing so much consideration into what I was providing for her, so why not for me? And I asked myself that question a dozen times at least, as I hurriedly grabbed a granola bar on our way out the door in the morning or made myself a grilled cheese after putting her to bed, rushing so I could throw my feet up on the coffee table, turning on some no-thinking-required show on TV.
I cared so much about what I put and (almost, if not, equally important) what I didn’t put in Emma’s body. Her pure, teeny, baby belly. So, why hadn’t I been so selective about my own food choices?
There was one other time that my daughter influenced my eating habits, but that was before I ever laid eyes on her outside of the sonogram picture hanging in my bedroom. Starting when she was as young as a single cell. Tiny as the hollow seed of an apple. And for 41 and a half weeks, I was as diligent and health conscious as I am with her now. That’s not to say I didn’t eat fairly well already. I’ve never been a huge fan of heavy pastas and breads and creamy sauces. And thanks to my parents putting a ban on any soda as a kid, I still haven’t had a glass of that bubbly concoction to this day. So, I was off to a good start, but that doesn’t mean that I always made the best pick either. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t cut corners and, in keeping up with the often fast-pace, on-the-go society we live in, grab a large, chocolate chip cookie or an iced tea and a handful of nuts for what I somehow let qualify as lunch.
But from the no-hormones-added, omega-3 infused, organic, whole milk I give Emma each morning, in her purple sippy cup, with her other small, soft hand stacking up and knocking down a collection of plastic tea cups, I do have a choice. And I put thought into each choice of food I give her. The funny thing is that it doesn’t feel like I’m putting much thought into it. Certainly not time consuming or burdensome. Not difficult or calculated. Instead it’s a very natural, fluid mindset; kind of just the way I feel I am supposed to do it. Ultimately, the way I wanted to feed myself. And so I set out to do just that. And I continue to try to do so at least, as often as I can.
I still have the occasional ice cream indulgence at the end of the night or my designated dessert Sundays, or dark chocolate covered salted almonds as a mid-day snack. Even a Friday night slice of pizza, only now topped with spinach or with a side of leafy salad. The difference is that I now make sure I have meals, not just something to eat. And whole meals at each meal if I am able to, with whole foods. Bright colors that used to only decorate Emma’s plate, sometimes looking too pretty to eat. I now make sure that I care as much about what I feed myself as I do my daughter.