Most of us would like to think that we are in charge of what, where, when and how we eat. But the truth is that our food choices are only as good as our nutritional gatekeeper. What do I mean by that? I mean that for most of our lives someone else has shopped and prepared our food. We eat what is available and put in front of us. The exception to this, of course, is the person who is a nutritional gatekeeper themselves. Growing up it was probably your father, mother or caretaker or maybe the public school cafeteria. My gatekeeper was, like many, my mother who was an exceptional gatekeeper. For example, she rarely bought soda as she felt it was not a good food choice. As a result, I have never purchased it on a regular basis for my family and my children do the same.
As an adult, your gatekeeper could be a spouse, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate, the college cafeteria or yourself. I personally am a gatekeeper for a large family and have been for over 20 years. In my case, the transition from having a gatekeeper to being one involved a bit of a dietary rebellion. When I went off to college, I ate all the things my mother wouldn’t let me and I paid the price by gaining 10 pounds my freshman year.
So how can you make that transition to being your own gatekeeper or a gatekeeper for others successfully? Dr. Brian Wansink, in his book Mindless Eating, makes a few good suggestions to help “crown yourself” an official nutritional gatekeeper:
- Follow the half-plate rule. Your plate should be half vegetables of some variety. This rule follows the new USDA food plate guidelines (myplate.gov).
- Try to always dish yourself a serving size. Don’t eat directly from containers, bags or boxes and don’t leave them open on the counter or in the car.
- Variety is the spice of life. Offer variety to those you prepare food for and eat a wide variety yourself. The broader your diet the more nutritional it is.
So claim the key to your nutritional gate and make good food choices for yourself and for others. Your health and their health will thank you for it!
Photo courtesy of test.mindlessproducts.com.