Do our childhood eating habits affect the way we eat as adults?

I love broccoli and I usually make it in a stir fry, preferably with oyster sauce!  Yum!

The other day, though, I thought I’d try my hand at something different – roasted broccoli!

Pre-roasting chopped broccoli florets

Pre-roasting chopped broccoli florets

What I did was: preheat the oven to about 200 degrees; chop up a couple of small heads of broccoli into small florets; place the florets on an oven tray covered with aluminum foil, drizzle over with some olive oil and a little rock salt and cracked pepper, then pop the tray into the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes.

The finished product!

The finished product!

I served the broccoli up with beef chunks and sliced mushrooms stir-fried in a jar of pre-made teriyaki sauce.

Broccoli and teriyaki beef

A fast, simple, delicious meal!

Ever since then, I’ve been wanting more roasted broccoli – so the poor BF has had to make do with me adding the Green B to just about everything we’ve had for dinner this week. Eating broccoli remains me of my childhood dinners and that got me thinking about my eating habits and how similar they are to what I used to eat as a kid.

The first time I left home was to move to an entirely different country – onto a university campus. Living in student housing was one of the best things I’ve ever done – I relished being even closer to friends, living independently and of course the party lifestyle! And one of the things I looked forward to about finally being on my own? Being able to eat whatever I went, whenever I wanted! Candy for breakfast? You betcha!

I had probably one of the worst diets while in university – ham and cheese toasties, instant noodles, spaghetti, potato chips and alcohol were my staples. Luckily, I spent a lot of time running around on campus so I didn’t put on too much weight! However, when I graduated from uni and took up a sedentary job working in an office – and not just any office, but one which was located within spitting distance of a McDonald’s, a KFC, Chicken Treat and a Hungry Jack’s – things took a turn for the worse. I gained quite a few kilos and some major muffin top – and decided that was it. I needed to change my eating habits and the way I worked out too.

It took me a long time to figure out what was healthy and what wasn’t – especially those misguided labels about healthy packaged foods (in short, if it’s packaged, it’s not healthy!). Similarly, it took me quite a while to figure out what worked for me in terms of exercise. The first time I ever tried running, I managed less than a minute before I gave up. Now I do a 10km run every week.

But what I want to talk about are eating habits. When I was a kid, dinner was always rice served with one meat dish and one vegetable dish (Yup, rice, the quintessential Asian staple!). Once or twice a week we’d have soup to go with dinner and it was always a clear broth, nothing creamy. And after dinner, Mum always had a large plate of fruits as an evening snack/dessert – starfruit, rambutans, longans, lychees, mangoes, watermelon, jackfruit, cempedak, papaya, mangosteens, honeydew, ciku, langsat and pomegranates. I was so lucky to have grown up in an Asian country with all these amazing tropical fruits – they always hit the sweet spot and were so yummy and refreshing. My parents didn’t let me or my siblings eat too many chocolates when we were little (that changed when I got my first allowance and was allowed to hit the malls with my friends!), potato chips were a rarity and fast food was reserved only for occasional weekend treats.

Like I said, when I got older, I pretty  much spaced out on chips and chocolates, junk food and fast food all the time. But when I started cooking my own meals and trying to be healthier, I found myself craving a meat and vegetable dish once again (though not rice – but then I was never really a big fan of rice when I was a kid and used to scrap it into the bin when my mum wasn’t looking and hide the evidence under lots of crumpled tissues!)

Also, strangely enough, when I was a kid, I used to love meat. Like, I would go crazy for meat. I wasn’t a big fan of vegetables, though I did love broccoli and cauliflower (yup, strange kid). But as I grew older, I found myself craving vegetables over meat. Sometimes it got so much that someone actually asked me if I was a vegetarian because all he ever saw me ate was veggies! I still like me some meat but these days, I feel like it’s not a meal if it isn’t rounded out with some veggies. And in the evenings, I often find myself wanting a plate of fruits like what Mum used to serve up in front of the TV rather than a bar of chocolate or a piece of cake.

Obviously, I owe my parents a huge debt of gratitude because it was clear that the eating habits my parents instilled in me as a kid have suddenly asserted themselves when I became an adult (though sometimes I still feel like that gawky 16 year old that clowned around so much!). I was eating proper meat and vegetable dishes made from fresh ingredients and eschewing junk food because that was what I was used to as a kid – so thanks super heaps, mum and dad! Because if they had fed me junk food and McDonald’s when I was little, that’s probably what I’d want to eat for dinner and lunch these days too! But they didn’t – and in doing so, set the foundations for a healthier lifestyle for me – in fact, making it easier for me to want to eat healthily.

I’ve Googled this – and it seems it’s true: studies do show that as adults, we tend to revert back to our childhood eating habits, be it healthy choices or bad ones. However, for those of you who had bad habit eating habits as a child, don’t get discouraged – habits can be broken and it’s not too late to change! Trust me, this is the girl who couldn’t run for more than a minute but now runs for more than an hour – changing a habit ain’t easy, but it is doable! And it will make you feel sooo much better about yourself!

What are your eating habits like? Have they changed over the years? And do you think the way you ate as a kid has a big impact on your current eating habits?


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