Who is your nutritional gatekeeper? This gatekeeper is pretty much your “Personal Nutritionist”, it’s who prepares and purchases the food in your household. These nutritional gatekeepers influence the foods we eat whether it’s a homemade meal, a child’s brown bagged lunch, on-the-go snacks, or what we order when dining out at restaurants. Most of the time, we refer to these gatekeepers as our mothers, fathers, grandparents, or housekeepers.
There is a severe impact that stems from the gatekeeper’s eating choices and habits that is passed onto their family members. Today, in this day and age, with the recent increase in processed fake foods that we are exposed to, nutritional gatekeepers must be aware of how important nutrition is and how the foods they purchase affect their family’s health and day to day well-being. For instance, a mother who works intense hours most likely does not have the time to prepare healthy meals for her family, let alone herself. She is most likely to purchase unhealthy packaged, processed meals and snacks from the “inside of the food store” (as we all know, we should be consuming foods on the perimeter of the food store and we should steer clear of the center isles which are full of these highly processed, fake foods”). Moreover, this mother most likely chooses to feed her family with “take-out,” or “fast food”, which are accepted and passed on to her children and husband. On the other hand, a mother who strives to improve the family’s eating habits can and will improve the family’s health and food choices. This healthy eating behavior (purchasing whole foods on the perimeter of the food store) and smart food choices will be passed onto her family. For instance, when her children purchase a school lunch, they will seek the “healthy options” as these are the foods that will be most familiar to their healthy home lifestyle. Moreover, this mother and father will choose to reach for hummus and carrots instead of a candy bar when their blood sugar drops at 4PM. This refers to my “Crowding Out” theory, where if you “crowd out” your family with healthy, nutritious options, they will be more inclined to reach for these options on a daily basis.
Additionally, if the gatekeeper stocks the household fridge and pantry with healthy, unprocessed, natural and organic choices, the family will not be tempted to reach for unhealthy, processed junk foods full of sugar, preservatives, additives, and high fructose corn syrup. For as long as I can remember, our home growing up was always stocked with healthy options and to this day I continue to reach for healthy foods that make me feel good. As a child, I was not allowed to eat sugary cereals or junk food…(well once in awhile I recall my mother putting a Fruit Roll Up or a bag of Combos and chips into my lunch bag). However, overall the concept of healthy eating starts when children are young as they look up to their parents and eat the foods that the gatekeeper is preparing for them each and every day. This way of eating becomes a ingrained in the children’s minds as the proper way to eat and nourish your body.
We must strive to make sure our gatekeepers are preparing healthy, nutritional meals for their household as these food choices become a way of living for the entire family for the rest of their lives.
Who is your current Nutritional Gatekeeper? Does this gatekeeper’s choices differ from the gatekeeper you had as a young child? How have they impacted your food choices?