My “child” is not really a child anymore: he will be 20 in October. I am happy to say he eats well most of the time. He eats breakfast almost daily, drinks non-fat milk (not really knowing anything else), eats most vegetables (and hates them with sauce), and does alright with most of his diet. He does eat out with his friends several times a week, but it tends to happen at this age. Even then, the food he orders isn’t so bad compared to most people.
He is active too. He works at UPS loading the package cars in the morning (nearly two years now), is a lifeguard for over two years, and goes to the gym a few times a week.
I’m not pointing this out to brag, but to note the influence we have on our children. I don’t recall specifically telling him to do these things, to take on these habits. They just happened. Well, I did strongly suggest that I preferred that he not work in a restaurant, but I didn’t tell him NOT to.
But it isn’t just our own children we influence. I realized this recently after something happened in my office. A couple of weeks ago we had cupcakes for a special occasion. My co-worker’s grandson, Ricky, whom I’ve known for several years now, was in the office that day. I was trying to decide which cupcake to have and he suggested that I have the one with the “blue” frosting. Ricky was being a stinker, because it is well-known in the office that I have issues with “blue” food – it doesn’t exists in nature. (Please don’t argue: blueberries have purple skin and green flesh, blue corn is purple, as are the potatoes, and blue cheese is mold.)
The point: I had not talked about the blue food issue in months. While my aversion to blue food is well-known around the office, the memory of the issue had remained in Ricky’s mind. It had made in impact. Without knowing it, I influenced him. He could choose a blue food or not, but he now knows that it isn’t natural.
I have also learned that Ricky and his cousins ask their grandmother if going to McDonald’s would be “approved by Shelley” or if “Shelley would approve” of eating this food. I don’t worry about what the other children eat. But it turns out I influenced on not just my child, but other children.
The things we do and say, our health behaviors such as smoking, exercising, or sitting doing nothing, cooking a meal or eating out, sharing the meal with the family or having a pre-made diet meal all influence children. Whether we know it or realize it, whether it is our child, grandchild, or one we see on occasion, we influence them. Be a role model in your healthy behaviors. What are you doing each day to influence a child?