Veggies and Study Results :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Veggies and Study Results

Marge Fenelon

Mothers, I’m afraid we’ll never be able to get our kids to eat veggies! That is, not if the results of a recent study at the University of Oslo, England get out. The research team tracked nearly 5,000 British adults for 20 years and discovered that four bad habits combined can age us by 12 years. Those habits are smoking, drinking more than three alcoholic drinks daily for men and two daily for women, getting less than two hours of physical activity per week, and eating fewer that three servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

I’m just waiting for my kids to throw this one at me. Think about it; what do kids mostly gripe about? They can’t wait until they’re older! Well, if they get a hold of these study results, they’ll never eat their veggies. Maybe they’ll become couch potatoes and take up smoking and drinking, too.

Granted, I’m being facetious, but I did have to laugh when I saw news about the study. It brought back a host of memories my kids can’t resist teasing me about and that I’d rather just forget.

Let’s take, for example, the time we invited our next-door neighbors over for coffee and desert. I served the coffee and my neighbor asked for some sugar to put in it. I rummaged through the cabinets, found the sugar container hiding far in the back of the shelf and triumphantly brought it to the dining room table. Our neighbor gratefully removed the lid and dug his spoon in – only to have it met with concrete resistance. We hadn’t used the sugar in so long that it had hardened completely; our efforts to explain the fact that we didn’t use white sugar in the house didn’t seem to help the situation. I was mortified.

In our years before homeschooling, I could never figure out why our kids didn’t want to take birthday treats to share with their class. I thought they were being kind by trying not to make more work for me. I found out years later that the treats never made it to the classroom because they knew the other kids would never eat them. As my oldest son put it, “They were nothing but whole wheat flour, shortening, and a little salt.”

And the bean burgers? Well…even I couldn’t swallow them, literally. They ended up in the garbage can.

I finally caught on when I began getting an unusually high volume of requests to visit Grandma’s house. Now, we all love my mother-in-law, but going there several times a week seemed quite unreasonable. Then I noticed that when we did go, everyone made B-line for the kitchen. Once I got my jacket off and set down my purse, I’d follow, only to find them hovering around the pantry, stuffing themselves with baked goodies. “Mmmmm….mmmm….mmmm…” my husband would chant as he inhaled the delectables.

That was it. I knew that if I wanted my family to actually eat the foods I made, I’d have to make foods they’d be willing to eat. I tapered off on the whole wheat flour and re-introduced sugar into our diets. Don’t get me wrong; I certainly did not throw all caution to the wind. I simply gave in enough to avoid an all-out rebellion.

I still do believe in healthy eating, and insist on multiple servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Our dinner table is almost always graced by a cooked vegetable and fresh salad and the fruit bowl rests on the breakfast table every morning and stays out during the day. In fact, when my family isn’t looking, I’ll half the amount of sugar in recipes. But…a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do. I didn’t want somebody else feeding my family!

And as for the folks at Oslo University, I daresay they may have some perturbed mothers on their hands.

Topics: Motherhood

Marge Fenelon is a Catholic author, columnist, and speaker. She's the author of When's God Gonna Show Up? and When's God Gonna Call Me Back? (Liguori Publications) and a regular columnist for the Milwaukee Catholic Herald. She and her husband, Mark, have four mostly-grown children and are members of the International Schoenstatt Movement. Visit her website at

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