Health and Environmental Things My Parents Actually Did Right

Throughout my book, blog, and daily life I have been notorious for giving my parents a hard time for their fridge full of margarine and carrying Sweet & Low packets everywhere they go. (Yes, I have tried introducing them to organic stevia drops and real butter. It’s hopeless). While I still can’t get them to wrap their head around the fact that those aren’t real blueberries in their Nutri-System muffins, I’ve realized I should give them credit for some things they did right, back before healthy living was more than Jane Fonda workout tapes and Snackwells.

1) Growing up we always had a small salad before dinner. True, it was mostly iceberg lettuce with Wishbone dressing, but research out of Penn State shows that eating a first-course salad can reduce overall calorie intake at a meal by up to 12 percent. My husband and I often start our meals with a salad course, but for our children that usually just means a side of carrots with their mac and cheese.

2) There was a time when I, like most children, begged for the Count Chocula cereal I saw in commercials. I’m so glad that my mother put her foot down and didn’t allow us any cereal that was made predominantly of chocolate marshmallows. Sure, there were occasional Lucky Charms, but we mostly stuck to a steady diet of Cheerios and Special K.

3) I remember learning about the red and blue bins for recycling back in elementary school. Of course, back then no one took that particularly seriously, least of all me. But my mother remained steadfast in her sorting and continues to recycle to this day – even if it means picking out all the items my father still throws in the garbage.

4) I was one of the few kids who wasn’t allowed chocolate milk at snack time, and didn’t mind at all. Whole milk in elementary and skim in high school. Of course, now I don’t really drink dairy at all, but I don’t think almond milk even existed in the ’80s.

5) While the containers may have once been filled with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, at least those plastic containers always got repurposed. The stockpile of empty margarine containers at my house was legendary, and now their container of choice is an empty pill bottle. Sure, they fill it with Coffee-mate and it looks like they are transporting cocaine, but at least they are upcycling!

Whenever my parents visit they bring a ziplock bag with a small water bottle, a K-cup, Sweet&Low, and a pill bottle filled with Coffeemate non-dairy  creamer
Whenever my parents visit they bring a ziplock bag with a small water bottle, a K-cup, Sweet&Low, and a pill bottle filled with Coffeemate non-dairy creamer.

Did your parents instill any eco-values, even if they were accidental? Have you been able to get your parents on board with small green changes?


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