Dabbling in the kitchen that first tenuous year of marriage was daunting. My attempts at cooking “healthy” for a man who was raised on a steady diet of greasy white rice, black beans, fried plantains and meat, chicken or pork cooked in fat, were immediately shut-down. No matter how I schemed to flavor the healthy stuff, he wholeheartedly rejected everything whole wheat, brown rice, or any veggie that resembled “grass.” As a new bride struggling to adapt to a new life in a foreign country, far away from all that was familiar, I quickly grew disenchanted with making two versions of everything. Consciously deciding to keep the love channel flowing through his stomach, I set my personal gastronomic desires aside until the days he’d be traveling or I could eat out with a friend.
And despite my pleas in the name of good health, setting good nutritional examples for our impressionable children or coaxing him into acquiring a taste and love for Mother Nature’s finest, nothing worked.
So I practiced patience and now, almost twelve years later, my time has arrived. Not by way of nagging, or shoving harrowing diet-disease correlated data down his throat, but by allowing it to evolve “naturally”---pardon the pun.
Hubs finally had the “annual” check-up he had avoided for the last three years and the lab results demonstrated low levels of the good cholesterol, the HDL. And because he is competitive and cold-hard-fact-oriented, and the numbers don’t lie, a breakthrough was made. The doctor recommended medication, but my husband comes from a legacy of doctors, and therefore doesn’t believe in their doctorly-ways. So when challenged by the physician to improve his “numbers” through diet, he readily accepted.
And this wake-up call is more than alright with me. Because with five children, who over the years, have developed a palette similar to that of their father’s, it is truly a blessing for us all. Our family finally gets to join the “healthy-eating society.”
So the following morning, without skipping a beat, I gleefully yanked all white bread, white rice and “junk” cereals from the pantry, paraded into the supermarket and exchanged the whole lot for healthier varieties. I explained to the children, who are finally able to appreciate the value of good self-care, that because of their dad’s “test results,” we all must make changes and take measures to try new foods. (I use the same psychology to encourage good, disciplined oral hygiene although the losing of my teeth was accident-related.)
To further exploit the situation, and thanks to my visiting sister-in-law’s encouragement, I also invested in vitamins and supplements for everyone. Heck, I’m even using the “good health excuse” to get the children to bed on time, if not earlier than normal.
“Your brain and body cannot work well (to take that spelling test, play basketball, read your new book, etc.) if you don’t give it enough time to rest, recover and grow,” I advise, careful to maintain a serious expression.
Maybe it’s all a gimmick. Who knows? But so far, when I ask the kids if they feel any stronger, smarter or healthier as a result of our family’s new mission, they all five reply with a resounding YES!
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