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What did your family teach you about health?

What My Family Taught Me About Health

Sue Riedl

Sue Riedl

Live better:

Trained chef and food journalist

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I don’t remember any big “no-nos” in terms of food choices growing up. My mom’s apple strudel always tempted us on the counter. My parents are East European and many of our meals consisted of salami, cold cuts, good cheeses, pickles and dark rye bread. My school lunches were sometimes smelly and embarrassing: think liverwurst and pickled peppers on thin (non-fluffy) seven-grain bread.

Despite the salami and goulashes no one in my family is overweight. We ate three meals a day, dinner together and I remember my dad would always have a yogurt before bed. A salad was served with every main course. Lentils were a common side dish and hot chocolate was a morning staple. My mom would keep nuts and dried fruit in stock for car trips. As I write this I realize I am totally slacking in my menu planning. One giant (home-made!) pizza makes a three-course meal, right?

Fast food was a rare treat often reserved for lunches on the ski hill. My dad is an avid skier and we grew up on skis. I am grateful for those trips as skiing has become a passion (and who doesn’t want permanent frostbite on their toes?). My dad also took up running when he was 50 and I probably will never beat his best 10K time.

Essentially my childhood eating boiled down to a well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle. It has kept my weight healthy and my heart in good shape. It ingrained a love of food and the desire to make meals from scratch. Plus suspicions about any “diet” that completely eliminates one food group. Including gummi bears. Moderation is what works in my food world. And if I’m honest with myself I know when I’m over-indulging…or not skiing hard enough.

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