How My Childhood Affected My Health as an Adult

I recently had a conversation with one of my clients about how parental health behaviors basically set the stage for how healthy your child will act. However, this is not the first time I’ve had this conversation. In fact, I’ve discussed this quite a bit with clients and parents calling me to “fix” their overweight/picky eater child. These conversations have obviously provided the inspiration for me to write this blog on how my childhood affect my health as an adult!

I feel that my childhood has made a large impact on my health behaviors now as an adult. In fact, I think it had a lot to do with my choice in my career path as a registered dietitian and personal trainer. Although my parents were not perfect, I think they got this part right. I’m sharing this with you in the hopes that it will have a positive impact on how you teach your children (or future children) how to be healthy.

Be A Healthy Role Model

As a kid, our family vacations consisted of going camping (this may because we didn’t have much money and camping is cheap!) or going to the beach. However, we didn’t just sit around when we went to either of these places…we did active activities! We rode bikes, hiked, went fishing, caught some waves, walked along the beach, played mini golf, went swimming, and the list goes on! This didn’t stop at vacations; we actually did a lot of these things when we were living daily life at home. We frequently went to parks together (again, cheap!), went on family bike rides, I even went to the gym with my mom throughout middle and high school!

Although we didn’t have a ton of money growing up, we ate well. And when I say well, I mean mostly healthy; not filet mignon for dinner well. We ALWAYS had a starch, a protein and a veggie. If one of those things were missing my dad would always ask, “where’s the xyz?” So I learned from an early age that every meal consists of a starch, protein and veggies. I also learned to look at my plate and realize that I needed all three and without one I should ask, “where’s the xyz?” Also, if something was served that I didn’t like, we had to try it. We also were reintroduced to it over and over again. We never had 3 different dinners cooked because “so and so doesn’t like ab&c.” I literally cringe when I hear of parents doing this! It is a parent’s responsibility to lead the child to do healthy things they may not like because it’s good for them.

I Helped Out

Learn how to improve your health at a grocery store I actually LOVE going to the grocery store! Why? Because I did it every week with my mom as a kid. Together, we planned every meal for the week, clipped coupons, made our shopping list and then set out on the hunt to buy the best deals! It’s like a puzzle to me! You can learn a lot about all my grocery shopping tricks at our next Grocery Store Tour! I also helped with cooking. Yes, we actually cooked in our family! Going out to eat was a rare occasion (again, little money), so we cooked family dinners and sat at the dinner table together to eat them…no t.v. either J I learned so much about cooking that I decided to go to culinary school before becoming a registered dietitian!

Sitting Was Kept to a Minimum

There were a couple rules in our house when it came to this:

  • No more than 60 minutes of t.v. watching per day; yes, 60 minutes only!
  • If it’s nice outside, go outside and play, not in the house (even if it’s snowing we went outside)
  • If I was being too rambunctious, my punishment was to run laps around the back yard…not time out

And these rules were enforced!

So what did this teach me as an adult? Health through nutrition and active lifestyle

  • First, be active as much as humanly possible! If it’s nice outside, I go outside and walk…even if it’s for only 5 minutes. In fact, I frequently walk around the block of my office in between clients. It clears my head and makes me feel good. In fact, I’m standing, not sitting, as I write this!
  • Every meal consists of a starch, protein and a veggie- this keeps my energy levels up and helps me to not over eat later in the day.
  • I rarely watch t.v. unless I’m sick.
  • If I need a break from work, house work, thinking, life, I exercise in some capacity. I’m pretty sure I’ve had ADHD (although I’ve never been diagnosed out of fear of being put on meds) most of my life and this is one of the best ways I cope with my lack of attention and need to fidget. Seriously, look up alternative ways to handle ADHD!
  • If I don’t like a particular healthy food, I keep trying it over and over again in many different ways until I do! This has been the case with asparagus, brussel sprouts and bananas!
  • I cook all my own meals, I shop the sale ads, plan out meals for the week and make it happen! I don’t make gourmet meals; a lot of them are in the crockpot or baked.

Unfortunately, I can’t fix your picky eater child or fix your 5 year old’s unhealthy habits…that all starts at home. With following some of these tips and sticking to it, I promise it well help over time! Just so you don’t think this is all just me and my parents lucked out- when I worked as a dietitian at USC I saw a lot of students. It was always apparent those students who were raised in families with healthy habits versus those who were not. In fact, several students came in who already had very healthy diets and I had nothing to tell them. When I asked, they said they had some of these same “rules” in their upbringing and they just wanted to make sure they were doing everything correct now. Those who were not so lucky as a child had many months of learning how to undo the poor behaviors they picked up. So do your child a favor and be a healthy role model!


If you need some help getting yourself healthy to be a good role model for your kids, I’d love to sit down and talk to you! Visit our website to set up a free no obligation consultation and let’s talk!


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