A healthy tribute to our moms

mother and kids in the kitchenMother’s Day is the special time of year we pay tribute to our mothers, grandmothers (and in my house, I include godmothers) for all they do for us and the love they give us.  During one of my precious last one on one talks with my Mother, she shared with me her feelings of “Did I do my best as a mother?” “Did I give what every one of my children needed?”  Wow – Mom also asked herself this??  I assured her that she DID do her best and so, EVERYTHING she gave us WAS a perfect job. Don’t all of us at one time or another ask ourselves as mothers – Am I doing a good job??

I asked the Dayton Children’s dietitians to provide stories of how their mother figures impacted their lives with healthy living and/or cooking in the kitchen.  Our dietitians come from different backgrounds- some being raised with moms who did or did not cook, moms who stayed home during the day or moms who worked outside of the house to even living with their grandmother.

My Mother: In our house, eating as a family (nine children) at the table was a priority – including breakfast before school!  When we participated in sporting events (long days or late evenings) she packed sandwiches and apples for snacks and refueling. A crock potted meal awaited us at home later that evening. She planned healthy meals and by eating together we also connected and talked as a family.  Mom taught me how to cook.  Sometimes with recipes, sometimes not (she did put up with several of my own recipe blunders).  I learned about healthy eating – we always had a fruit and vegetable present at meal times with milk as our beverage (I don’t forget the 4 ounce orange juice in the morning, too, for vitamin C!).  Mom shared that if she went to college, she would have majored in home economics – which is today’s dietetics.  How cool is that?

Rachel Riddiford, Clinical Manager and organizational nutrition and healthy way officer: Mom taught me, from early on, that you’ll feel better if you eat unprocessed foods.  She let me take over the kitchen (she’ll agree, I am a much better chef!)  whenever I wanted to – giving me tips to get me started and making sure I stayed safe but then also giving me free rein to shop for the family and prepare what I wanted and how I wanted.  Into her late 80′s, she continues to eat well, manage her stress, and exercise daily.  She’s a great mentor of a healthy lifestyle!

Nancy Nevin-Folino, Neonatal dietitian: My mom always waited until the last minute to cook and clean! I definitely learned not to do that because she was so topsy- turvey!! . We calculated that my mom probably made over 5000 fruit pies in her life: peach, apple, raspberry and grape – my dad grew all of that. She ALWAYS loved having company, and all of my cousins loved to come to Aunt Marj’s (for pie especially). I definitely entertain based on my mom, and not worry about getting everything right.

Lauren Lavretsky, medical floor dietitian: My mom was the one whom taught me to cook. Growing up, she wasn’t the most adventurous of cooks, but dinner was home-cooked and on the table for a family meal every night.  She instilled the importance of family mealtimes into me, and allowed my large family to come together once a day to discuss the day over a wonderful meal.  My mother worked, as well, and was a wonderful role model portraying the importance of fitting in these family mealtimes in the midst of the day to day chaos in a family of seven. It is pretty amazing too, to think back to the meals she prepared and served us, and realize how she was providing us with “MyPlate” every night, before the concept of MyPlate was even developed. There were vegetables with every dinner (or fruit on the days we had “breakfast for dinner”), brown rice and whole grains, lean proteins with steak saved for holidays, and we always had to have our glass of low-fat milk. Celebrations always consisted of the usual home-cooked meals, but our birthday cakes were the best! I have yet to have a store bought birthday cake for my birthday. My mom used to make all of my siblings and me cakes by scratch and decorate them (3D into shapes) for the birthday theme, or whatever hobby we were into that year. She passed this on to me, and to this day I make and decorate our celebration cakes.  As an adult, my mother and I are able to converse as friends sharing our joy for food and cooking with phone conversations about the latest Food and Wine magazine, the latest restaurant we tried, or a newly discovered recipe.   My mom provided me with the lifelong joy and skill of cooking and I love her for it!

Sarah Zeola, Pediatric Intensive Care dietitian: My mom would always consider fruit dessert and would let me help “stir” when I was little.  She was cutting up a bunch of citrus and bananas for brunch one day and I was stirring and was calling it “fairytale stew” in my “cauldron” and we still refer to it as fairytale stew today!  It is just a few grapefruits, oranges and bananas, with their juice, cut up…that’s it, but so yummy!  My mom was a working Mom and always made sure we had vegetables at dinner and prepped ahead on weekends.  She would make chicken or a soup with lots of veggies that we could eat all week long and lots of canned green beans that we could just heat and eat.

Marisa Vanschuyver, Dietitian Liaison and Metabolics dietitian: My mom didn’t love cooking.  However, my mom did love nutrition and spent lots of time reading and studying nutrition and effects on our body.  She did not have formal nutrition education, but is a wealth of information to this day.  I appreciated that she took the time to talk about how food works in our bodies as children and it certainly fostered a lifetime of learning about nutrition for me. Thanks mom!

Alison Rudy, Ketogenic and medical floor dietitian: I always enjoy time spent with my mother (and grandmother) in the kitchen–what wonderful memories!  Even as a young child, I remember my mother involving me in the kitchen through simple, age-appropriate activities like drying lettuce in our salad spinner, snapping the ends off of green beans, or placing fresh berries in a pie.  Each summer, my mother and grandmother involved me in planting a fresh vegetable garden.  I loved watching the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and fresh herbs grow.  My grandmother taught me to make each meal colorful with a rainbow of vegetables and fruits.  She also taught me to treat each meal like a special occasion and to always sit at a set table for meals.

Glenda Christian, Developmental Pediatric and Diabetes dietitian: My mom would experiment with a variety of foods and dishes she had not prepared before. When I was growing up our neighbors were Hispanic & Hungarian so she learned to make all kinds of healthy dishes and of course desserts! I loved my mother’s ability to prepare a meal that was balanced (I know that now being a dietitian) and having all the foods come off the stove, out of the oven at the right time so everything was hot & tasty! I have learned a lot from her timing of serving a meal: “the difference between a good meal and a great meal is an hour!” I admire that she was thrifty with the family of five’s budget and organized weekly with her one trip to the grocery store. If I am asked what I miss most about my childhood, I always say my mom’s cooking…it’s still what I miss most!

What special gifts our mothers have given us – gifts that impacted not only our personal but professional lives.  A big thank you to all our Mother’s – you HAVE done a good job!

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