Two of my daughters were sitting at the dinner table, looking at the nutrition facts on the back of a bottle of ranch salad dressing.
They started talking about serving sizes, realizing that probably when they put ranch dressing on anything, they’re using too much based on the recommended serving sizes. Then they pulled over a bottle of Italian dressing for comparison’s sake.
One of the greatest challenges as a parent is when you see your children do something you’ve done.
In this case, I took a lot of pride in it. I’ve been doing the same kinds of comparisons a lot lately.
I’ve started tracking my food intake in an app on my phone. After each meal, I dutifully enter what I’ve eaten and how much of it I’ve eaten. It tracks the calories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates in what I’ve consumed, showing me the recommended daily balances for comparison’s sake.
It’s a little sad that for my first four and a half decades on this spinning ball, I never really thought much about what I’d put into my body. I was blessed with a particularly strong metabolism that kept me a little undersized through my teen years. When that metabolism let up, I kept eating like it wouldn’t ever hurt me.
If it tasted good, that was good enough for me. I used to joke that something was going to kill me some day, and it might as well be food. I also used to joke that eating healthier wouldn’t make you live forever, it would just feel like forever.
And there’s plenty of my love of food that continues. I haven’t stopped consuming wings and beer. I’m just more aware of their nutritional value.
For me, it’d been more about education than weight loss. While I’d love to drop a few pounds that mysteriously dropped onto my waistline in the last 15 years, I’m more concerned about knowing what I’m doing when I eat. You could say I’m still in the discovery phase, as I look up foods I frequently eat and second-guess their value in my life.
I’ve been shocked at how empty some calories leave your stomach feeling, like when you eat potato chips or a candy bar. I’ve been surprised to see how much a handful of mixed nuts can satisfy you without eating up too many of my allotted calories for the day.
I keep telling my children I’m not doing this to lose weight. I just want to be smarter in how I treat my body, in hopes of keeping it in almost-mint condition for a few more years so I can enjoy all their activities, and hopefully the activities of my eventual grandchildren.
That’s why it was so satisfying to see them follow my lead. They seemed interested in seeing what was good for you and what wasn’t. I hope they can see it’s OK to monitor your intake while still enjoying the foods available to you, getting a little healthier in the process.