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Dec 6, 2011 02:38 PM

can we really blame eating habits on parents?

I don't eat meat, but when I did I liked it lightly cooked.
When we went out as a family when I was a a kid I liked my steak blue. If I could have had it raw I think I would have taken the option. But none of my family ate very rare meat,
If I ate a boiled egg I wanted it hard boiled. No-one in my immediate family ate eggs hard boiled.

So - what's with the 'everyone eats steak well done cos they were raised that way' etc stuff. Do people not have an opinion of their own?

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  1. I have 3 sisters, and though we have a few family favorites, we all have very different tastes in food. Some of us will eat anything, and others are picky eaters.
    My two sons, who are in their 20's, also have very different tastes in food. One eats everything, like me, and one won't touch fish or certain vegetables, or anything pureed. Who knows where that came from?
    Of course we are ALL very opinionated people, so maybe that's just a character trait.

    I have lived in several states from one end of the country to the other, landing 10 years ago in rural Georgia. I tell you what, they do eat the way they were raised here in the South! Beans and greens, cooked forever. Best biscuits on the planet. Mac and cheese with eggs in it.
    I found out that a 'veggie plate' in the Midwest, where I spent most of my life, is a whole different animal than the veggie plate in Georgia. To me, a veggie plate was raw carrots, broccoli, celery, etc. with some kind of dip in the middle.
    Here it's a big mess o'greens, some pintos, squash casserole - and guess what! macaroni and cheese is a vegetable here. (too bad I can't convince Weight Watchers of that)

    It's all in where you were raised, as much as how you were raised.

    31 Replies
    1. re: jmcarthur8

      Your family didn't eat very rare meat ? They seem quite normal to me.

      1. re: SteveRB

        My family cooked the heck out of cheap beef, and I am a "rare," to "med-rare" guy, with only the best cuts. Thinking back to those poor burnt, cheap steaks, I cringe now. Still, my parents enjoyed them, so who am I to diss their choices? Brother (13 years my junior) followed the parents, but I separated much more.


      2. re: jmcarthur8

        "and guess what! macaroni and cheese is a vegetable here. (too bad I can't convince Weight Watchers of that) "

        I know, this really cracks me up. Mac and cheese is a vegetable. Goodness gracious. And pizza is a vegetable, too. Gah!

        Over the summer, I was eating at a small diner in the Midwest, for a meet-up with a friend. The main dish special (meatloaf) came with a choice of 2 vegetables. I love a good meatloaf, so was planning to order it. The side options were: corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, or, yes, mac and cheese. Yep, a grain, a legume, a starch, and pasta. I just sat there with my mouth open for a second then said:

        "You consider those vegetables?"
        "What do you mean?", was the reply. (Forget it, I thought. Not worth the breath to explain.)
        "Well, can I just have a mixed salad instead?"
        "Sure... for a two dollar up-charge."
        "I'll just take the vegetable soup and salad instead. That soup does include things like carrots, onions, celery, squash and all, right?"
        "I'm not sure, I'll have to look on the package."
        "Okay, let's just make it a large chef's salad. Thanks."

        When it's normal to eat this way, with even simple foods being processed instead of made from scratch and things like grains and pastas being posed as vegetables, then I think kids *do* get their taste buds programmed to eat a certain way (lots of salt and sugar). So, if parents are feeding these types of things all the time, kids get addicted to it. Parents are addicted to this type of food, too, so kids are just following their lead. If you teach a kid that corn or mac and cheese or french fries are vegetables, then they won't try actual vegetables. However, if you expose your kids to a variety of healthy foods, various cooking techniques and diverse ethnic cuisines, they will find their own taste, but it will be *their* choice, not something taught to them. So, yes, I do think it's the parents.

        1. re: gardencook

          So basically they called their side choices 'vegetables' instead of 'sides'? What kind of vegetables do you expect to be offered at a restaurant serving meatloaf? Many "vegetables" are also "starches".

          1. re: julesrules

            Yes, jules, you got it....all the side dishes down here in Georgia are called vegetables. I've seen people say they just want a vegetable plate for lunch, and it usually has mac & cheese, sweet potato casserole loaded with brown sugar, squash casserole loaded with butter and bread crumbs, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, cornbread or corn pudding...
            Most of them were born vegetables, but with all the sugar and butter and frying, I'm not thinking health here.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Points up an issue from my youth. Mother loved her okra, but it came from a package, that was bought frozen. I hated it. Some years ago, we were at an inn, with a large garden. I got to taste several heirloom okras, and could not have been more surprised. Who knew that fresh okra could taste so good? I used to feel the same way about tomatoes, until Chef John Besh introduced me to REAL heirloom tomatoes. Not even close.


            1. re: julesrules

              Of course I realize there is starch in many vegetables. I just consider potatoes, in a balanced diet, not as vegetables, but as a starch. Any added benefit of potatoes is great, but I don't consider them as a serving of vegetables in my daily nutritional needs. Nor corn. And mac and cheese is just ridiculous.

              What kind of vegetables? My favorite restaurant "that serves meatloaf" near me offers: veg medley with carrots, broccoli, and squash or an asian blend that has broccoli, peppers, water chestnuts, and lima beans, roasted broccoli by itself, roasted brussel sprouts by themselves, asparagus (in season, for an up-charge), and then mashed potatoes, baked white or sweet potato, and yes, corn. I think at a minimum, one can expect at least one actual "botanical" vegetable available, whether it is called a "side" or a "vegetable". I just think it's funny that the menu stated, "Two vegetables included".

              It's not a big deal for those of us here, but there are a lot of people out there who do not think it through, both children and adults, and they think, "Hey, I had two servings of vegetables that came with my meatloaf lunch, I had my RDA of veg," when they actually had mac and cheese and corn. Call it "truth in advertising", I don't know, but it does bother me a little bit because it conditions people's attitude about how they approach food. The only way we're going to move America out of this obesity/diabetes/heart disease crisis is through education. I think it starts by calling a spade a spade... not calling mac and cheese a "vegetable", making sure people realize that corn is a grain and that it should be considered the same as rice or bulghur wheat or quinoa, etc.

              1. re: gardencook

                My mom was in the hospital recently and was ordering dinner. I asked her to order a vegetable with her meal, and so she ordered a baked potato. Huh.

            2. re: gardencook

              I think most people consider corn and green beans "vegetables" even if they are botanically something different.

              1. re: gardencook

                The pizza = vegetable thing was totally unknown. Back in my youth, it was considered "ethnic food," and was wonderously exotic. Heck, just the fumes from the colored candles in the fiaschi Chianti bottles was exotic, and I can still recall the aroma.

                That is the stuff that growing up in Mississippi can do for one.


                1. re: Bill Hunt

                  "Roughly 1 in 3 adult Americans is now obese. And ground zero for the nation's obesity battle is Mississippi — where 44 percent of kids are either overweight or obese. And 7 of 10 adults in the state are either overweight or obese."


                  1. re: Rmis32

                    I have not lived there in 40 years, so it is not my fault. Maybe point the finger at someone else?


              2. re: jmcarthur8

                Now, I am from Mississippi, where macaroni and cheese IS a vegetable, as is rice and gravy! Now, we DID have salads, and plenty of various greens, but mac-n-cheese was the base of our food pyramid, and then the major part, above, was rice and gravy.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    I wish I had a like button for this post :-)

                    1. re: Janet from Richmond

                      LOL [Grin]

                      My poor, long-suffering wife (was going to be a nutritionist, before she decided to run hospitals), feels that I am still "warped," and after all these years.

                      I did the cooking the other night, as she was flying back from somewhere. I did a lovely beef tenderloin, a baked potato, some rice with a great beef gravy, and then mac-n-cheese. She just rolled her eyes at me. Now, I DID have a nice salad with fresh greens, with tons of Gorgonzola, and then a creamy bleu cheese dressing...


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Oh my. I thought my family was carb-centric, since we always had bread on the table in addition to potatoes/rice/noodles. You've got us beat, big-time.

                        1. re: pikawicca

                          Obviously, you were NOT raised in Mississippi!!!!

                          Let's just say that they have their own "Food Pyramid."Starch, starch and then cheese on one of the starches! [Grin]


                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            I'm curious. Do you think that this diet produced people who were less healthy /more overweight than other Americans? Or did most folks get enough exercise in their daily lives that caloric intake didn't matter? (BTW, I love rice and gravy, but don't encounter it anywhere; have to make it myself. My mom and dad lived in a boardinghouse in Mississippi after WWII, when Dad was an instructor pilot. The lady proprietor taught Mom to make : biscuits, grits, fried chicken, collards, and rice and gravy. I wish I knew her name, because she passed her knowledge on to me.)

                            1. re: pikawicca

                              When these diets originated, yes, people worked -- the hard physical labor of an agrarian society -- from kin to caint (from before you kin see the sun til you caint see it no more) -- and in the South, the days are long, so that's a LOT of work.

                              They needed a lot of fuel to get through the day.

                              Historically, as well the majority of the folks in the South didn't have a whole lot of money for meat -- so the vegetables they raised and starch was all they had to work with.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                I believe there are several things that contributed to this sort of diet, which diet I don't believe is limited to the South. A lot of this sort of cooking I consider to be a kind of country cooking, although you might not encounter it in the far North.

                                If you had any money at all in the South, you had a black lady cooking for you. I imagine the spread of cooking styles had something to do with the ladies moving around in different kitchens, cooking for families.

                                For families who were not affluent, like my direct ancestors, carbs were cheap forms of energy. And yes, the men worked in the fields, oil fields, or mills. The women kept gardens (and so did some of the men) and preserved their garden fruits. The kids worked in the garden, cotton fields, or got odd jobs as they could. Cheap energy in the form of carbs powered their lives.

                                My father was born in the hill country of Arkansas. I once asked him what his family ate during the winter when there was no garden produce, and he said dried beans and cornbread.

                                Mr. Sueatmo's family is from rural IN, and he is very familiar with the same style of cooking. I don't know how certain things spread around, but apparently they did. As my family became more educated and suburbanized, the emphasis on starches did fall away somewhat. But a good starch is still comfort food to me.

                                And, my mother's seldom made any macaroni or noodle dish. But she adored Spanish Rice.

                                1. re: sueatmo

                                  the conversation was revolving around Bill Hunt, who grew up in Mississippi, so my comment was targeted on the South.

                                  But in the north, the days weren't as long, but the winters were long and cold -- and it takes extra fuel to keep warm when you don't have central heat.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Yes, and a high starch diet seems to be pretty widespread, at least for earlier generations.

                              2. re: pikawicca

                                I do not know. Of all of my childhood friends, only one was even slightly overweight. It was not until I discovered foie gras, and Sauternes, that I began to go up in trouser size.

                                Now, I have no idea what the health situation would be, as I have only seen one of those friends, over the last 40 years.

                                I just cannot say.

                                As for the time in MS, was that Key Field, Gulfport Field, or Keesler Fiels? The latter two were on the Gulf Coast, and the former was in Meridian. All three were WWII flight-training facilities.


                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    Got you. Almost exactly 13 miles from where I grew up. Mother was at Gulfport Field, and father did flight training at Key, but then both were Civil Service at Keesler, but after WW II. Mother installed and set up one of the first UNIVAC computers in the US at Keesler.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      Had lunch today with a displaced Southerner, and we had a long conversation about rice and gravy. Very strange that the rest of the country doesn't get this at all.

                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        My wife is from New Orleans, just a few miles away, and actually much closer to a rice-producing area, and she (plus her family), is not a big fan. Now, she has eaten grits (or a variation) around the globe, so she's not all bad... [Grin]


                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          Grits are wonderful, but rice and gravy are holy.

                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                            I could not agree more - though it DOES depend on the gravy!


                  2. The exception proves the rule.

                    But seriously, it is generally (stress "generally") true that young children follow the lead of their parents or mentors.

                    While that my not be true for you, it certainly doesn't disprove the notion that parents influence how and what their children eat ("blame" is really the wrong word here).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      I must be the exception, I can recall my mother telling me that bleu cheese was something that I would never like - she was very wrong.; Same for white bread, which I still cannot stand. I used to sneak Roman Meal bread into the A&P shopping cart, as I loved it. She kept telling me that "brown bread" was what poor people ate, and "white bread" was more fitting for us. Since I did not grow up during the Great Depression, I could not relate, but knew what I liked. It was exactly the same for most other cheeses, in that I liked the "odd" ones, and turned my nose up at anything marked "American cheese." I still feel that way, and seek out imported cheeses, at my advanced age.

                      Yeah, guess that I am the exception. While my parents' food did sustain life, it left a lot to be desired, and with but a very few exceptions, I would never embrace almost any dish, that they loved.


                    2. I think kids naturally follow the lead of the parents in many aspects with respect to food and food choices. After all, they aren't doing the cooking. Then they reach a certain age where their personalities and preferences perhaps can become expressed more freely. Of course, some foods taste better to some people than it does to others and that can be expressed early on (try feeding a baby something they don't like LOL...good luck with it!) Adults can make choices, and often do, but old habits and patterns do die hard. Look at both threads on CH that involve "stuff you grew up with and miss" and "stuff my mom made that I hate". Our eating habits as youngsters/adults can be influenced by peer pressure, social group, economic group and personal choice. So while one may have been "raised on X", a person may choose "Y" either due to tastebud preference, desire to make a personal stand so to speak, or because they just want to.
                      I've never really heard anyone blame their tastes on their parents, as in "I'll only eat X because that's what I grew up with". Now the number on the scale? That is OFTEN blamed on the parents, with usually little to no recognition of the role of personal choice in lifestyle, as in "its not my fault, I was taught to clean my plate", or "its not my fault, I was raised on junk food"....just thinking out loud so to speak... :)

                      1. Yes and no. Offhand, I think general enjoyment of food (eat-to-live types vs picky eaters vs search-out-the-best types vs people who eat whatever's in front of em and love it) and some basic taste preferences are out of a parent's control. Many people have stories of siblings who have different preferences and outlooks toward food, despite being raised in the same environment.

                        But parents can control what a child is exposed to, which certainly does have some effect on preferences - you'll rarely meet an Indian person who claims to hate Indian food. Also, parents probably have an effect on the degree to which their offspring think others should go out of their way to indulge their preferences while cooking for em.

                        Your steak example was telling because though the rest of your family preferred more well done steaks, rare steak was still at least an option for you. If your family had reacted to your preference of rare steak with disgust and/or refusal, you might have a different preference now. Of course, you might still have come around to liking rare steak in your adulthood, but it would have been more of a hurdle. There are places where chicken is served rare - even adventurous American eaters would often have a hard time adjusting to that as adults who have always viewed undercooked chicken as disgusting and dangerous.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          My eating habits were not reacted to with 'disgust' - but I WAS made fun of relentlessly for eating differently. I guess my liking for food was stronger than my desire to fit in!

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            Agreed yes and no. I exposed my kids to a wide range of foods and cuisines and I have two of the most picky eaters. There's still hope. They are both in their early to mid 20s and so there is time for their taste to cultivate further.

                          2. Yes and no.

                            Of course, children are never exactly same as their parents, but that is really a moot point. My current eating habit is not exactly same as that of 1 years ago...

                            If you look at it objectively, then you will find there are more similarities than differences between parents and children. You should look at the big picture, not just the small differences. If a child is raised in an Japanese household and has been eating Japanese food for 15 years, then he may not prefer the exact Japanese foods as his parents, but he certainly has acquired a taste for Japanese cuisine. This is the same for Chinese, Indian, Mexicans...etc. This is the reason why we have Chinese supermarkets, Indian/Pakistan supermarkets...etc -- because a Chinese who ate Chinese in his/her childhood still prefer this food even though he may have been living in US for 20+ years. In fact, he/she could be a second or even a third generation Chinese-American, and still prefer Chinese style foods because the parental impact is that powerful.

                            How many Chinese you know hate Chinese foods? Almost all of my Chinese colleagues eat Chinese style foods at home. They certainly don't have to. In fact, it would be easier on them to do otherwise, but they don't. On the other hand, I know a few (very few) Chinese who were adopted and bought up in a Western household. Guess what? They don't cook Chinese food on a regular basis.

                            To answer your specific question, of course people can have their own opinions, and we don't eat exactly the same as our parents, but let's not underestimate their influence. Like you, I eat my meat more rare than my parents. I also cook my vegetables on the more crisper side, while my mom like the tender side, but these are small differences in the big picture. When I look closely what I have cooked in the last year, more than half of them are foods which I had when I was a kid.

                            At the end, parents have a great influence of their offspring.

                            So while you don't eat exactly the same as your parents, I am willing to guess that you eat a lot more like your parents than a random couples.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              good point, I DO cook other stuff but more often than not it's similar to theirs, just umm mine (and similar is a very key and vague word).

                              1. re: hill food

                                Same here, hill. I cook differently than my mom, but mostly similar to hers. It is like I try to improve upon her versions, but I am still cooking many of the same style of foods.

                                The parent-child relation is indeed a strange one indeed, isn't it? (not just about food)