Growing up, my parents (and grandparents) had a dinner table rule for my brother, sister, and me: If you wanted in on the Clean Plate Club, then you had to finish everything on your plate. The rules were plain and simple. That is ... until we noticed the vegetables. My brother hates veggies. It didn't matter how hard you begged or how viciously you threatened him -- there was nothing on this earth that would ever, ever, ever make him choke down a broccoli spear without gagging. He'd sit at the table all night, too, to avoid to the icky taste. On the other hand, I love the little green monsters. I think they keep you healthy, nourished, and alert. So it's amazing to me that my brother -- 6'4" and a former three-season athlete in high school and college -- could be just as healthy (if not more) as I am.
He's living, breathing, and buff proof that eating your veggies doesn't really matter as much as we say it does.
You could throw every fact and figure at me that affirms the health benefits of eating vegetables far surpass those the benefits when you don't eat your veggies, but still, I don't care. I feel like the more I ask around, the more people I know who survived not eating their veggies at meal times.
Even my own parents say at a certain point, it became more of a hassle to try and get us to eat foods we hated. They'd rather us eat what we liked and what we enjoyed so that we actually ate what was on our plates versus listening to us moan and groan through every meal. Not to mention, I'm sick more often than my brother is. Me, the veggie eater, cooped up in bed with a high fever or a cold or the flu more times than my veggie-hating big brother. A little ironic, don't ya think?
As part of his fitness routines, he downs protein shakes like nobody's business but takes no other supplements to "make up" for the nutrients he's not getting in veggies. Go figure. Further proof that not all bodies need those nutrients to live well and live heathfully.
In our own mental catalogue of foods we love and foods we hate, there's some story or association attached. Maybe you hate beans because you once got the flu shortly after eating them, or maybe you can't stand the gross consistency of cottage cheese. Maybe you hate spinach because your childhood was tainted by long mealtimes staring down the squiggly veggie. Did avoiding these foods leave you worse off? I'm gonna go ahead and say no, they didn't.
In my opinion, the same goes for veggies. I might love them and think they're important as all hell, but if I've got 6'4" proof that they're not a life necessity, I'm not going to kill myself trying to incorporate the green stuff into every meal.
Does letting your kids skip their veggies make you a bad parent?
Image via the bridge/Flickr