Did you know that the First Family used to eat takeout every night?
They were just like us, a busy family with 48 hours worth of to-dos to accomplish in 24 hours, children that needed to be fed, and a preference for couch sitting versus taking walks at the end of a long day — oh, and no private chef.
I received this used-to-eat-a-ton-of-takeout tidbit when I went to the White House for a Let’s Move event hosted by Michelle Obama. Let’s Move is an initiative Michelle started in 2010 to end childhood obesity by introducing healthier foods into schools, incorporating exercise into lesson plans, and supporting families in continuing these healthy habits at home.
The idea was birthed when Michelle took her daughters to their family physician (before they lived in the big White House) and was told they needed to make some changes to their diet.
This was a wake-up call for Michelle, who began making one home-cooked meal a week (you gotta start small y’all!), encouraging more physical activity in their lives, and replacing the processed snack foods with fruits and vegetables. Michelle initially received resistance from her girls (specifically in the realm of the snack food switch-up) but soon realized it was all worth it when their energy and general health quickly improved (and they received a glowing health review at their next check-up).
She carried this healthy living into the White House by planting a vegetable garden and requesting the White House executive chef prepare fresh organic meals for them. (See, they’re “kind of” like us.)
During the Let’s Move event, the executive chef showed us how to make a layered kale salad in a mason jar with simple ingredients all people have access to — not just leaders of the free world. (Was this an inside scoop into what’s in Barack’s lunch box every day?!)
Many of the other influential (and busy!) women who spoke at the event shared their own struggles of getting their children outdoors, saying no to processed foods, and encouraging their kids to eventually seek out healthy food and exercise on their own. These women initially appeared super human, but after hearing their highly relatable challenges, I was reminded we’re all on the same hamster wheel of just trying to get some freakin’ leafy greens into our kids.
Because it can be so hard to convince our children (and ourselves!) to live a healthy lifestyle, and it’s so tempting to say, “Yeah, sure whatever. Let’s just find some golden arches to eat at,” these lovely ladies have devoted their time to break down a few of our barriers.
They’ve convinced some big names (like the Sesame Street Muppets) to lend their likeness and substantial influence, free of charge, to promote fruits and vegetables, thus making them more appealing to the masses of youngins perpetually being enticed by their favorite faces to “eat that sugary cereal” or “ask for the jumbo-sized soda pop.”
Now, the gorgeous mugs of Jessica Alba, Cam Newton, and Elmo are the new PR agents for goodies like beets, carrots, and broccoli. Watch out chicken nuggets, Elmo’s taking you down.
As the plans of this health revolution were being shared with us (the “us” being myself and about 150 other parent and health writers), the majority of the conversations around me shared a common vein of shock that no one had thought to do this sooner, agreement that we’re all struggling with figuring out how the heck to encourage our kids to want to eat healthy and exercise, and obviously, how great Michelle’s arms look in that strapless dress. (Is there also an executive trainer? I want her number.)
Hey mama (and dada), we’re all in this together — all frantically trying to smack down the whack-a-mole-esque barriers that keep popping up as we do our best to raise healthy kids in the age of fast food, screens, and disappearing recess time.
Let’s all tap into the ocean of connected parents (that flows all the way up to the White House), whose combined power will change the tide of health in America (and the world!), and empower our kids to claim their whole-being wellness.