Paying It Forward For LifeMon 24 Feb 2014
Story by Chef Cj
As we get into the New Year I have found myself reflecting on the years past so I can start learning from my experiences and offer guidance and help within my community. As a chef and Food Revolution Ambassador in my home town of Bowling Green, Kentucky, my thoughts and conversations are all about food, the evolution of food, and its history.
One of the most compelling situations that always grabs my attention has to be, how do you get people interested in something they claim they dislike - healthy food? I have found myself lost in thought and conversations on this issue for many years now with my main focus being on children. Due to the obesity epidemic hitting the youth of today, most of my conversations and thoughts always lead back to the question of how do we help the younger generation? How do we peak their interest and how do we get them to be healthier? As a single gentleman with no children, I put myself on a journey to decipher the ever so compelling code of getting kids to try different foods. After talking with many parents on how to grab their child's attention and helping with the youth at the local Boys and Girls Club, I have come up with the best possible solution. It’s not going to happen overnight, and sometimes it won’t always work but I feel that our kids are worth it and we need to make sure their health is protected. I will not give up on this fight, this is a battle, and I intend to be on the winning team.
The answer to all of my research is going to sound simple but when put to the test can become quite daunting and frustrating at times. The most significant factor to peaks a child's interest, when it comes to food is to get them involved. As an adult, we tend to forget what it is like as a child. We need to remember how it felt to have all of our meals chosen for us or not quite knowing or understanding where the things we are eating came from or how it was made. Clinging with a death grip to familiar names not because they taste delicious, but because we recognize them and know what they are is not the way to go. The youth of today consume processed food on a daily basis because it is what they are offered and it’s what they accept. There are many ways to get your children involved in food education, but I found these tips useful and successful in my everyday work.
1. Plant a small garden to get your children involved in picking the plants they grow. Start by letting them dig a hole and plant the seeds. These actions will give them an understanding of where their food comes from.
2. Get them in the kitchen even if it means just tearing up bread for stuffing or cutting watermelon with a butter knife. Make them feel as if they contributed towards making the meal.
3. If you have trouble getting them in the kitchen buy them a chef hat and apron. You can even have their name added to it and even start calling them a chef.. 4. If you go through the other steps and still have trouble. Have them pick the meal they want to make (from 3 healthy choices of course) and let them prepare their choice.
5. Don’t let them know what they have eaten until dinner is over by sneaking in the veggies throughout the meal. In many cases, it can change their mind about something they refused to eat in the past. This is one I have used on adults and it works. All you have to do is try it once and if they don’t like it after a few bites then at least they gave it a try.
6. Last but not least do not give up. This obesity epidemic did not appear overnight, and won’t end overnight. You and your family are worth it. Keep up the hard work!
This year and for every year to come I propose as your compatriot in the real food fight, we all make some effort to pass on our food knowledge to the youth and our community in order to live a healthier lifestyle. If we all make small changes in our own lives, together we can make a difference and change the world. As a Food Revolution Ambassador, I encourage you to become an Ambassador and join our team.
“As one we are weak. As a group, we can conquer the universe.”
About the author: Born and raised in Chicago, Chef Cj moved to Kentucky for a more peaceful way of living. His dedication to a healthy way of living and passion for his fight against childhood obesity is by far one of the most enduring traits a human being can ever have. His mission is to heal the health of America one dinner plate and a time. He says that he “will not stop my journey for anyone or anything. I will succeed, and America will no longer be one of the most obese countries out there. This has to end”.
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