For the first time ever, Cooking Light has decided to feature a person on the cover of their publication, but of course, they didn’t select just any person. On the cover of their history-making issue appears none other than the lovely Michelle Obama. The special March 2015 issue also commemorates the 5th anniversary of the FLOTUS’ popular Let’s Move campaign.
Inside, the mom of two discusses the importance of dining together as a family on a nightly basis and also, how making simple changes in her daughters’ diets drastically improved their health. We should also mention that she was a busy working mom at the time when these changes were made. According to Lady O, it all began during a trip to the doctor’s office after she was informed by the girls’ pediatrician that something was “a little off.”
“So we made very simple changes as a result of what our pediatrician told us,” Michelle recalled. “I cooked probably one or two more meals, and it was something simple—maybe a baked chicken, couscous, steamed broccoli. I kept it simple but made sure there was always a vegetable and always a good grain on the plate.”
She also decided to slash processed foods from Sasha and Malia’s diets and while she didn’t deprive them of juice, she did water down sugary beverages in hopes of gradually weaning them off.
“More importantly, we just eliminated all the processed foods, all those packaged lunches, all of the canned juices. We started using fresh-squeezed juice and added more water into their diet. So when the kids were thirsty, we would even mix water in juice just to dilute it so it would get them out of that habit of wanting that sugary taste. And the kids adapted to the changes very quickly.”
Her efforts certainly were not in vain, by the time the girls were due back for a doctor’s visit, he noticed a drastic difference.
“By the time we went back for the next visit, our pediatrician said, ‘What have you done?’ And I was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘I haven’t seen these numbers change in such a short period of time in this way in a while.’ And that’s when we started having the conversation of just how easy—it’s about information and knowledge. I didn’t know, but once I had the information, it was fairly easy to make the changes.”
She also shared a cute story about how Obama-family-personal-chef-turned-White-House-Food-Initiative-Coordinator assisted in the elimination of processed food from the Obama family diet.
“My kids loved the macaroni and cheese in a box. And he said, if it’s not real food then we’re not going to do it. If we want macaroni and cheese, we’ll cook it with real milk and real cheese. He said, there’s nothing wrong with mac and cheese, but it’s got to be real food.
So my oldest daughter [Malia], who was probably 8 at the time, he took a block of cheese and he said, if you can cut this cheese up into the powder that is the cheese of the boxed macaroni and cheese, then we’ll use it. She sat there for 30 minutes trying to pulverize a block of cheese into dust. I mean, she was really focused on it, and it just didn’t work, so she had to give up. And from then on, we stopped eating macaroni and cheese out of a box, because cheese dust is not food, as was the moral of that story.”
As for the importance of family dining together each night, Michelle says she learned this particular lesson from her own parents.
“My dad was a shift worker, so there were some dinner times when he was at work, but whenever he was there we would sit around the table with the plastic tablecloth, and that’s when we would catch up and we’d talk about what we were eating, talk about what was going on in the day.
And it’s that tradition that Barack and I really try to incorporate in our lives, even though we’re extremely busy in the White House. We’ve found that we’ve been able to have dinner every—almost every night together, between 6:30 and 7:00. We have a bigger table and somebody else is doing the cooking, but the conversation and the mood and the tone are still the same. It’s our most important time of the day.”
Check out more from her interview here.
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