My biggest motivating factor, for better or worse, is the fact that I have children. Up until the point that my oldest child started to eat real people food, I didn't really think about what I was eating. My oldest was also the chubbiest baby EVER and as he got older all I could think was "I don't want him to have issues before he even knows what issues are!".
One day I ended up having a conversation about this with my Mom and it brought about a lot of interesting things to think about. I was talking about how I was trying to make a conscience effort to make sure my kids ate very healthy food. Without meaning to, I think I hurt my Mom's feelings because she asked "Didn't I feed you healthy food?"
And that is really what got me thinking. If I look back.... yes she did feed me healthy food. Both my parents loved to cook and on one side of my family there are even a couple of chefs. We didn't eat a lot of processed food and we lived too far from town to eat out, except for the odd special occasion (I remember going to McDonald's once every few months and being so excited...lol). We had our own garden, we butchered our own meat. There was even a time that we had our own chickens and eggs....ewww that is a whole other story!
So where did it go wrong? Because really, that sounds like the set-up for some pretty good eating habits and a lot of the things I strive for now with my own kids.
It wasn't until University, when I was on my own, making my own decisions, that I really started to notice things changing. When you've never had Kool-Aid.... and Kool-Aid sounds cool.... what's to say you can't drink a whole pitcher of it.... everyday! I came home my first summer at least 25 lbs heavier and unable to do the farm work I had easily done the summer before.
So that gets me back to what went wrong.
I ate good food as a child, but I didn't understand what made it good. I didn't understand the reason you can eat some food in moderation and other food until you are blue in the face. I didn't understand that my Mom chose not to feed me the easier processed foods because it wasn't healthy (and it was expensive!). As a kid, in my head, it was because she was mean and not as cool as the Mom's that sent completely pre-packaged lunches. Homemade cookies.....SO BORING!
So I left childhood fairly naive about food.
That conversation changed my parenting strategy around food. At that point I was already trying to limit processed foods and feed them healthy stuff from a young age so they didn't know any different. While this is still the main point of how I feed my kids, I am now trying to educate them about what makes their bodies healthy.
They are still pretty young, so I don't over-talk it, but when we talk about what we eat or we cook together, I frame the conversations around what makes our bodies strong and why some foods are ok to eat, but less than others. I *hope* by the time they are old enough to really get it, they will already have a strong base to build on.
Don't get me wrong.... they still love hot dogs and pizza and I have one child who could live off bread alone! But when they make good food choices or give something new a try, I think I am on the right path.