Michelle Obama is one impressive lady. Not only does she effortlessly (or seemingly so) manage the duties of being the First Lady, but she really is an advocate for the everyday people. She rocks some serious fashion, which she will be the first to tell you often comes from the likes of stores such as Target, making her looks both fashionable and attainable to the everyday working girl like myself. I really like and admire that about the lady.
But, this isn’t a fashion blog, so I digress. But with that said, she is a woman of diverse facets, and among many of Michelle Obama’s talents, she has also been a champion for healthy eating throughout her years in the White House.
She immediately found her calling and her stance upon moving into the famed Pennsylvania Avenue address, building and cultivating an organic garden of her very own on the property, and working tirelessly to educate children and adults alike on the substantial importance of healthy eating and proper nourishment.
Her organization, Let’s Move, has been incredibly influential in getting the message across to parents and children about the importance of diet and exercise.
Online magazine and health management website, Everyday Health, recently had the distinct pleasure of meeting with the First Lady to discuss her progressive thoughts on the subject of health and learning to eat healthfully. Kick back for a few minutes and join us to hear what Mrs. Obama has to say about her approach to staying in peak health.
Savoring Treats and Good Habits
EH: You’ve said moderation is the key to maintaining a healthy weight. What are your biggest indulgences, and how do you limit them?
Obama: This is an easy one — it’s French fries. I love them. And I’m not afraid to talk about it because it’s important that we realize that healthy eating doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach.
Choosing a healthy diet isn’t about deprivation, it’s about balance. I
t’s about moderation. Like I tell my kids, as long as you eat fruits and vegetables at every meal, you’ll be okay if you have pizza or ice cream every once in a while. The problem is when the treats become the habits.
Getting the Kids Involved
EH: MyPlate, the new USDA food icon, suggests Americans make fruits and vegetables half of every meal. Many kids — and plenty of adults — don’t like vegetables. How do you get your kids to eat vegetables? Any family recipes you can share?
Obama: One simple way to encourage kids to try new, nutritious foods is to include them in the process. Give them some choice in the matter. Find nutritious recipes they like and build up from there. Garden with them. Take them grocery shopping. Get them involved in the kitchen.
I’ve seen this firsthand with my own girls and with local students who help us out in the White House Kitchen Garden. At first glance, they may not like spinach or broccoli, but if they plant it and watch it grow or prepare it and season it on their own, it can be a little more interesting. It becomes their discovery, their accomplishment. It’s something they made, not just something their parents told them to eat.
One Secret to a Better Diet
EH: If you could change one thing about the American diet, what would it be? Why?
Obama: Well, we’re not interested in dictating exactly what foods people have at every meal. That’s not what Let’s Move is about. But it is about sharing ideas that really work for families and promoting manageable life changes. MyPlate is a perfect example in this regard. All you need to do is fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables alongside proper portions of lean meats, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. You can fill in the plate with any type of food that you want, but the main point is that we each can be more conscious of the types of foods we’re putting into our bodies. And if we just do that, we’re well on our way to better health.
At the White House Dinner Table
EH: Tell us about a typical Obama family dinner. How often to the four of you get to sit down together? Do you think eating as a family helps encourage healthy eating habits in kids?
Obama: Most nights, we have dinner together as a family. We’re lucky. It’s a time we all really enjoy, and as parents, it’s a great way to keep tabs on what our kids our eating. But it’s also a chance to talk about the ups and downs of our days — or roses and thorns as we call it — and really connect as a family. So I don’t think it’s a reach to say that dinner time helps us all to be a little bit healthier, both with our eating and as a family.
Kick start your new year! Join Everyday Health’s e-newsletter and gain even greater insights on staying healthy and happy in 2012 and beyond!