Moms, we really do have the most influence

Emily Boller as newbornI was born at the tale end of the infamous Baby Boom. This picture was taken on the day that I was brought home from the hospital.  My parents were of “The Greatest Generation”; a term coined by journalist, Tom Brokaw, to describe the generation who were children during the Great Depression and teens/young adults during World War II. This generation of youth learned the value of sacrifice, hard work and commitment. I remember my mom saying how much she loved the first weeks of spring as a child to be able to go out and pick dandelion greens for supper, because fresh food sources were so scarce after the long winter months. A few years later she mourned the death of her brother, a young soldier fighting in Europe, as she herself helped with the war effort by growing a Victory Garden. Women all across America grew lush vegetable gardens; supplying over 40% of the nation’s food, on top of carefully rationing additional food supplies.1


Fast forward three decades. 

  • Teen girls traded growing and preparing food for after school activities. 
  • A magical applicance called a 'microwave' was introduced.
  • At the touch of a button food could be instantly heated.
  • Pre-packaged and processed meals flourished. 
  • These young women eventually married and started families of their own. 
  • They met friends at McDonald’s Play Land for their toddlers' play dates. 
  • Happy Meals replaced green beans and carrots. 
  • Carbonated drinks replaced glasses of cool water. 
  • Coupon clipping for artificially flavored, processed food replaced working in the garden.   


Fast forward another decade; the Happy Meal toddlers became teens. 

  • Soccer and dance practices replaced the family dinner hour. 
  • Traditional, sit down meals became a thing of the past. 
  • No longer was anyone home at the same time. 
  • Big Macs 'supersized' replaced Happy Meals.
  • Dad nuked cold spaghetti in the microwave and watched the evening news . . . alone. 
  • Thankfully, Death by Chocolate ice-cream was in the freezer.


Emily Boller as a child eating an ice cream coneWhen I was a kid, ice cream cones were rare commodities reserved only for very special occasions.  However, when I became a mother, the 99 cent cones at McDonald’s were routine lifesavers. Sure, freshly cleaned grapes would have been a better choice, but the drive thru was more convenient to a busy soccer mom. Unfortunately, I raised most of my kids in the fast lane on waffles, processed cereals, pizzas, chicken nuggets, mac n’cheese, pot roasts, “homemade" beef n’ noodles, and plenty of chips, sweets, and junk food in-between.

I recently asked my 21-year-old son, who now freely chooses high nutrient foods over the junk he was raised on, what has influenced his healthy choices the most. His reply was seeing the impact that nutrition has made on his mother’s life, and the healthy example now set at home.

Last year I wrote a post titled, “Moms, we have the most influence.”

I still believe it.  





image credits:  Emily Boller's family archives


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Comments (8) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Rick - September 19, 2010 7:26 PM

They call it "progress" ...

Darryl - September 19, 2010 8:59 PM

Great post, Emily. And what's so ironic is that so many of these changes come touted as wonderful advances. No longer does anyone have to "toil" in the kitchen. Heat and eat! New! Easy! Convenient! Fast! Saves time! And how fortunate--- we need that time for trips to the doctor and the pharmacy.

MIke Rubino - September 19, 2010 9:29 PM

I think "modern" society with its emphasis on convenience foods, giant corporations dictating our tastes and making it cheap and easy to have access to their foods has really screwed up our young. Mom is probably the most important thing to a childs well being . I just cant beleive the food todays Moms serve their kids. Its lifethreating! Yet few care, and those who do are looked on as odd.

We have a local healthfood store that has a variety of foods a juicebar and fresh produce. I frequently have lunch there and watch the people who come in and out. I would say that an overwhelming majority of the women who shop there are not overweight and have attractive figures in the sense that they look fit and are not overweight. Whats even better is that the children who are brought in with them look to be fit too and few are overweight and even less are obese.Sadly over at the super markets the reverse is true.

Nancy - September 20, 2010 7:57 AM

Oh, how I wish I could turn back the clock - I fed my children so much over-processed convenience foods and often ate at those fast food places. I guess it is the "...if I knew then what I know now."

Emily Boller - September 20, 2010 4:28 PM

My heart goes out to mothers who are trying to raise children to eat for health in the midst of a culture that is promoting just the opposite.

My young adult son has the fortunate advantage of maturity to "see the bigger picture, " but unfortunately my 11-year-old son doesn't have that maturity yet. It's a daily challenge to say the least; especially since he's been raised on SAD foods since infancy, combined with taste buds continually being re-introduced to SAD food(s) away from home.

It's also a challenge because Moms nowadays spend so much time driving kids back and forth to activities, and the activities all seem to fall at mealtimes. It's the 21st century rat-race, for sure. Fifty years ago, life was so much simpler and conducive to meal preparations. If a young child wanted to play sports, it was with the neighbor kids down the street. 'Fast food' wasn't even a household word yet.

In modern times, one can't shop, cook and prepare food while hands are on the steering wheel. [Although it would be a good invention to create mini-kitchens in vehicles and drive thru farmers' markets!]

It all boils down to anything worthwhile is worth doing. Even through the many obstacles in our way, raising children to embrace eating for health is worth doing!

Let's all persevere for the health of our children. The change of one is a transformation. The change of many is a revolution. Let's make it happen.

Cheering for all mothers (and everyone who is trying to swim upstream against the culture's fixation on disease promoting foods!)!

chris christensen - September 22, 2010 12:27 PM

My husband and I and our 5 yr old are just finishing up a 6 week road trip in our travel trailer. We chose the RV for the freedom to go where we want and be self sufficient. We've only eaten out a handful of times. We've had some challenges getting fresh foods at times in remote areas, but for the most part we have eaten lots of veggies, beans, nuts, etc. We used our Vita Mix to grind up our fresh Kale from our garden before we left and bagged it up for the freezer so it would last longer. We've logged over 7500 miles and seen the most beautiful parts of the country while hiking and eating healthfully. Including our 5 yr old who completed a 6 mile hike in Glacier NP and many 5 miles hikes in the Cascades and Tetons. What a gift health is. I will miss the freedom as we integrate back into normal life. The battles with church workers not to offer our son junk food, the disdainful looks given to us about "depriving" our son while we choose healthy food and snacks in church, school, and any public event. The trip was freeing in many ways. Many ask us if it was hard to travel that far in confined spaces. Sometimes, but its actually harder for me as a Mom to have the societal struggles and constant battle with pushing upstream against the flow of a disease promoting life style. We can teach good stewarship to our children about health even while on a long holiday if we make it a priority. Thanks, Emily, for your encouragement to Mothers. We set the tone for eating, most of the time. Its time we get it right.


Emily Boller - September 22, 2010 8:39 PM

Good for you Chris!

What a healthy five-year-old!

That is so disheartening that your biggest struggles are with those who we'd assume to be the most supportive of children's health. Yes, you are depriving your child; depriving him years of suffering with SAD food addictions, poor health, and expensive medical care.

Keep swimming upstream ~ for the sake of you and your family's health. It's so worth it as your comment so beautifully describes.

Maria Rattray - January 15, 2011 10:35 PM

Oh my goodness Emily I am in the throes of writing about this very thing! It's interesting that people just don't realise that they are feeding their children into early graves!
As a teacher I have watched the escalating incidence of type1 diabetes and juvenile arthritis and I am horrified by what passes as 'treatment'. Also, the diabetic children using pumps are allowed to continue to eat garbage as part of their portions. It's basic common sense is it not, that as a parent you'd question what is is that you are doing, or not doing?
I find it strange that if we physically abuse our children they will be taken from us, if we do not keep them clean and send them to school they will be taken into care, and yet, we can feed them into an early grave without as much as a whimper from society.

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