I would like a kiddy cocktail, easy on the ice, a salad with blue cheese dressing on the side, and a six ounce filet, medium rare. On my baked potato, I’d like sour cream and chives," my three-year-old “foodie” knowingly ordered at the restaurant where my husband was the executive chef. “Oh yes, and may I please have some sesame bread sticks? Thank you!”

Like we had just pulled off some Vegas ventriloquist act, our bewildered server looked at me with a “HUH!?” in her eyes, to which I replied with a wink and a smile, “I’ll have the same.”

Although many of us aren’t as opinionated as my daughter, we all have distinct likes and dislikes when it comes to food. And unfortunately, if you grew up eating highly processed food, there’s a good chance that’s what you’re eating today.

Our tastes start developing while we’re still in the womb. By nine weeks of pregnancy, a baby’s mouth and tongue have formed, along with the first tiny taste buds — roughly 10,000 of them! Babies can even have taste buds on the back of their throats and tonsils. Until we reach age 50, our taste buds replace themselves every two weeks. After that, we start to lose them and replacement ceases. (Wouldn’t it be nice if we could determine which ones?)

Also, by the end of the first trimester, babies can smell the foods that Mom’s eating. Scent crosses through the amniotic fluid! Sensitivity to sweet and bitter tastes is present at birth, but reactions to salty foods don’t come until about five months of age.

This information gives an important foundation to understanding one’s relationship with food for years to come. It’s a very personal, individualized approach that, as you can see, starts before we can choose for ourselves.

From these choices our physical conditions manifest. The old, “you are what you eat” is misleading. It’s more like, “you are what your mother ate!”

Our fast-paced, high-demand world has produced a culture focused on convenience and isolation. Many would prefer to open a can, unwrap a package, or go to a drive thru than actually prepare a fresh meal. We eat alone in our cars or cubicles instead of with each other. Our kids are fed processed food lunches at school due to federal funding cuts. And they have to down their “food” in less than 15 minutes, because that’s all the time they are allotted before the next class enters the lunchroom.

To constantly eat out or buy prepared frozen foods is often a lot more expensive than making a meal from scratch. But the cost of convenience not only impacts our pocketbook, it impacts our health — both physical and emotional. With the epidemic increase of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, it’s becoming very clear that without a more holistic approach, good health will continue to elude us as a population.

With the implementation of some simple changes, you can help heal and hold on to your well-being. Knowing your body’s individual physiology is a starting point. There is no blanket approach to personalized healing, whether you want to lose weight or not.

Since so many of us worry about our growing midsection, there are a few things you can do to start losing the healthy way by healing your body from the poor eating habits inherited by your parents and reinforced by our culture.

Here are a eight tips to get you started:

  1. Get a comprehensive blood test done. You need to know your numbers before you start any program. Self-diagnosis rarely works.
  2. Don’t focus on the scale so much. Look at your body's composition. Your weight doesn’t always show your level of health.
  3. Your weight fluctuates each day. For that reason, it’s important you don’t weigh yourself every day! If you must get on the scale, limit yourself to once a week or once every two weeks.
  4. Your clothes don’t lie. If you are exercising, even if you’re simply using the stairs instead of the elevator, inches leave, muscle increases, and your skinny jeans fit again!
  5. Omit as many chemicals as possible. Your body doesn’t know what to do with them. Irritation leads to inflammation which leads to pain. Even personal products, cleaners, and perfumes can cause toxic overload.
  6. Go to your farmer’s market. Buy local produce. It’s often better to eat local, fresh produce that’s not certified organic than it is to buy certified organic food that was shipped a long distance and costs an arm and a leg. Or better yet, grow your own!
  7. Get back to the table. Sit down and eat. Take time to enjoy not only your food but the company. Embrace the company of loved ones, friends, and nature. Even if your “table” is a picnic blanket on a warm summer day, make your meal a celebration.
  8. Lighten up! Relax. Laugh. Feel the stress leave... so will the weight. Sometimes the weight we carry on our shoulders weighs the most!

And if you have the chance, dine with a three-year-old. Even if they’re not a “foodie,” I guarantee they’re good for a laugh or two.

This article was written by: Eileen Smith

Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema