Being Thankful for a Healthier Lifestyle

Monday, November 25, 2013
Being Thankful for a Healthier Lifestyle

I have been considered overweight most of my life. My mom put me on a diet in the 2nd grade! I have 3 children and a husband who have also faced their own weight issues. Our weight struggles challenged me to learn how to cook more healthfully.  One outgrowth of my journey to better health was starting a blog. Being thankful for a healthier lifestyle has been years in the making.

My career choices further educated me about the obesity epidemic. In fact, I have come to understand that we are feeding our kids to death because we love them so much! We live in a super-sized world so that what we feed our kids is 2 or 3 times more than they need or that their bodies can handle. We are also feeding them the wrong types of food that are highly processed and packed with calories. As the Executive Director of the American Heart Association in Denver I had the opportunity to work with many talented and experienced doctors. One of these doctors, who is a pediatric cardiologist, told me at one point that he is now seeing children in his clinic who are 13 or 14 and yet have hearts that look like those of a 40 or 41 year old! Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) came out with a statement a few years ago saying that we are now living in a generation where the parents are going to out live their children because of obesity!

This newfound knowledge motivated me to find some solutions. I wanted to figure out how to “right-size” my world and the food I served at meals.  No longer could I ignore my weight problem. I now understood it was a problem affecting my family, and really our whole nation. I got galvanized around the reality that in the USA we are killing our kids with food…literally. The good news is that this trend is reversible. We can save our kids and ourselves. We can live healthier lives and eat delicious, satisfying food. To achieve this we do need to create new, healthier habits and retrain our eyes to right-sized eating.

In order to make better choices and help guide our families in healthier eating I did some sleuthing and read a lot of research. Here is some of what I found out:
  • 73% of Americans are overweight and/or obese;
  • Mom’s make 85% of the decisions regarding food and the household;
  • Dinner plates have grown 51% over the past century;
  • Colors and sizes of plates can influence how much you eat at a meal;
  • There is big confusion about the difference between a portion and a serving;
  • A Portion can be made up of a number of servings…like at McDonald’s;
  • Most of us do not eat a balanced meal;
  • All of us are genetically engineered to eat everything that is put on our plate;
  • Diets don’t work because we see them as having a beginning and an end;
  • Effective changes have to be permanent, embracing new habits for a healthier lifestyle;
  • Integrating new habits that engage the entire family increases their success;
  • Then make it a community endeavor so that a healthier lifestyle looks “normal” and manageable doing it all together.
This information got me thinking- how could I create a right-sized eating environment in our home? My first thought was to right-size our dishware. Even with smaller dishware, how do you know what the right serving amounts are for  the types of food you are serving at a meal? More research was needed. It seemed to me what I wanted to do was to figure out what right-sized dishware should be and then create a design on or in each piece of a place setting to show me how much I should put on my plate…like a “cue”. This took me to the ‘paint your own pottery’ store.  Before I realized it, I had painted a set of dishware- dinner plate, salad/luncheon plate, bowl and mug that would become the springboard for my new company- VisualQs. Good news is that I have hired talented artists for the dishware (Livliga) and serving spoons (LivSpoons) since research also proves that eating in an attractive environment with beautifully designed dinnerware makes for a better eating experience where you are more likely to eat slowly and consume less food.

Through the use of my prototypes, my family and I have all lost weight. I have lost over 50 pounds in the past year and kept it off. The dishware makes mealtime positively easy. For instance, I love using the bowls for cereal and soup and healthy snacks like berries because I know exactly what I am serving up. My children really like them too. It is like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together for them. I no longer have to worry if they are over serving themselves since the dishware is now right-sized and has portion specific indicators. Since we are all using the dishware there is now a sense of family solidarity. We are all learning what right-sized eating is all about... together. Perhaps one of the most important things is that as parents we are modeling healthier eating for our kids. We can’t expect our kids to be healthy if we aren’t. I now realize this. As parents we are creating an environment that says, “we care about a healthy lifestyle in this household” and “we are making it enjoyable and inclusive” to be mindful about what we eat as part of a lifestyle…not a diet. This is relevant for everyone. Learning good habits when you are young helps you avoid becoming overweight later on in life. If you or members of the family are already challenged with being overweight, establishing practical and consistent healthy habits will improve everyone’s health and can be life saving.  Good habits are good for everyone.

It is fun, it is easy and it is about a lifestyle. A simple solution for healthy eating…one person, one meal and one day at a time.  I am hardly perfect, but I know I have improved a really important part of my life and my family’s life. Food is no longer controlling me, I am controlling it one right-sized serving at a time. And I am thankful and appreciative that I am part of a community struggling with the very same reality. I hope my journey, what I have learned, and what I have developed with my new company, VisualQs, and what I have shared on my blog, will help others on their journey to a healthier lifestyle. Think of all the healthful benefits we can look forward to together like living longer, sleeping better, avoiding diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, etc…. If you haven’t already, please come join the journey and be thankful for a healthier lifestyle.

Re-posted from Sheila's Blog on

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