How dare you pick the blue cup over the red cup!

Sippy cup, that is. If you’re a parent, you’ve been there. The morning starts off like normal, you pour some milk for your child in a cup they’ve drank out of hundreds of times and hand it to said child. Except this morning, they hate that cup. Make that loathe. And it’s YOUR fault. Why didn’t you know?! You should have KNOWN they wanted to red cup! Cue tears and meltdown. It’s tough being a child.

Fast forward to our adult years. We have choices. Red cup. Blue cup. Glass cup. Plastic cup. Stainless steel cup. BPA free cup. Recycled material cup. Environmentally friendly cup. Cup that has a cute phrase or inspirational quote. Straw? No straw?

And what do we put in it? The choice is yours. All yours. You get what I’m saying here. There is a lot of personal responsibility as an adult when it comes to choices. Number 1? How you treat yourself and your body. That starts with what you put IN it. e really can’t control our genes, family history, to a certain extent, how we were raised and the type of foods we were fed. But if you are over the age of 18, you have a choice. Sure, finances and education play a role. But you can educate yourself and that includes how to eat healthy on a budget. But we have a lot of choices as adults.

The health profession has coined the western world as an “obesogenic environment.” Why? We crave fast and easy. If I asked you what do you want more of than anything RIGHT NOW? Many of us want more TIME. It’s more convenient to stop in a drive- through than to prepare something healthy or pack a lunch if you know you will be out during lunch time. Sure, there are healthy options available when out, but again, it’s a choice thing. If you stopped at a fast food restaurant, what sounds better, a side of fries or a bag of brown sliced apples? After a long, exhausting day, would you rather throw a pizza in the oven or cook a full meal complete with a side salad? What about physical activity? Why do we circle the parking lot to find the closet spot at the gym? We say we want more time, but we will wait for the elevator to avoid taking the dreaded stairs. We don’t have to get out of our car for anything these days, not even coffee or prescription drugs. And we don’t given the choice.

Everyday is a choice. We make, on average, about 221 food-related decisions daily (Wansink et al).  It’s a choice to add sugar in our coffee. A choice which cereal to eat. Sugary goodness or high fiber bran that your body will thank you for later. How much to pour in the bowl. What kind of milk to use. How much milk to pour. Which spoon to use. Whether or not to finish the bowl. Drink the milk. Have a second cup of coffee. Add more milk to it. A choice to sweeten it up. And that’s only breakfast.

Your body will thank you later. Instant gratification versus delayed rewards. That’s difficult and often why smart adult decisions are hard to make in the area of food. In my years as a dietitian, I’ve never, not once, had someone tell me that their comfort food of choice is grilled chicken, carrot sticks, or kale. But plenty of times I’ve heard chocolate, chips, cookies, french fries, candy, and other similar items as the “drug of choice” for an emotionally tough day. Think about yours. They likely contain lots of sugar, salt, and/or fat. Research has suggested these turn on the dopamine receptors in our  brains, aka “feel good center” and make the food addictive. And the food industry understands this. So it is in their best interest to add one or more of these three items into their product to sell more.

Now that you know. It’s time to choose. Stay tuned for practical ways on how to make good adult food decisions. Remember, as adults you HAVE the freedom to choose the red cup. 😉