"Are our eating habits imprinted from early childhood"
Have you ever asked yourself why do we make poor food choices even when we are aware of the results improper eating habits will bring?
For a long time I have wondered why this paradox takes place. Being a healthcare practitioner specializing in nutrition and natural therapies, I am often surprised to observe these illogical patterns in my own behaviour towards food as well as those of my clients. Sometimes, I notice my thoughts trying to skew the facts I know to be true and convince me to eat things I later regret eating.
Generally speaking, I seem to do fine until 6 pm. Then, my mind makes multiple attempts at persuading me that, "fresh healthy food is not really food," or, "a freshly juiced Smoothie is not good at anytime". When I give in to my mind's persuasions, and quickly begin regretting that I ate something I would have preferred not to, I always ask myself why this happens.
While working with hundreds of clients in my clinic over the years, it became clear to me that while most people are able to recognize which foods are healthy and which are not, they do not apply this invaluable knowledge to their own lives. Many of them come to me seeking not information but rather motivation to do what they already know will help.
Each time I see a new client, I witness how excited they become by the idea of improving their health through better eating. After each consultation, my clients visibly express their commitment to dietary changes by enthusiastically involving themselves to their wellbeing, telling me how anxious they are to start changing the way they eat. I can see that these people have a genuine desire to improve their diets.
However, I also know that the mass majority will return to their habitual eating patterns within a matter of months. So I decided to further investigate some possible reasons of this behavior, which I am sure is quite familiar to most of us. And here is what I found.
Lifelong food preferences start to develop while a baby is still in the mother's womb. The strongest pattern for future food preferences is formed during the age of 9 to 18 months. At this time, everything connected with food intake leaves a strong imprint on the child's brain. Also, the baby is tasting everything with his or her mouth: toys, shoes, body parts, everything.
Simultaneously, the child is memorizing the experiences of his mother and fathers eating habits; what they are eating, what they are feeding the baby, their emotional reaction to the baby's consumption of these foods, while the unsuspecting parents believe that the child does not comprehend much that is going on. The reality is the child is forming food habits for a lifetime. Whatever his first tastes, textures, smells and sights of food are, he will crave them for the rest of his life, especially in moments of distress. It would appear that comfort food is therefore not to far from the truth. This was often a time in a child's life when mum or dad focused much love and caring on them and purely through association finds its way into our adult lives when we feel emotionally distressed or needing comfort. As I read more and more literature about human behaviour patterns forming in childhood, I began to understand how crucially important it is for parents to pay close attention to the eating habits they are helping their children form.
We need to promote good eating habits with extra special care. For example, I think that every parent should try to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to their children as much as possible. If they are allergic to some fruits, or simply don't like them, you may still be creative by keeping bowls of fruits on the table at all times, or by placing pictures of fruits around the house, and reading books about fruits to your children. If you don't take some action the billboards, the commercials, and the movies will certainly do the "poor" job of imprinting the images of junk food into your child's mind for you. However, the strongest positive impression on your child's brain will be left by him/her watching his/her parents eating fruits, vegetables and other healthy things. Having our children crave grapes and cucumbers will surely aid them in their lives, don't you think?