Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn from the Cleveland Clinic is one of the whole-food plant-based (WFPB) advocates we follow. We were not surprised but were quite disappointed to learn that other cardiac physicians at the clinic won’t refer their patients to him; using the excuse, “They (the patients) will never go on that strict diet.” BUT (this is huge for us) those same doctors will come to Dr. Esselstyn themselves and send their family members when they have heart disease. Because “that strict diet” will save their lives. To us that sounds like withholding treatment options and malpractice. Deciding for the patient what they will or won’t do without ever giving them the information doesn’t seem right. But we aren’t lawyers and that’s not what this post is about.

In talking to people about the benefits of the WFPB lifestyle we often hear, “My kids would never do that” or “We could never do that. We have kids.” as a reason not to eat more plants. We don’t have kids, but we do know whole families who are moving towards being WFPB and enjoying it. We even know several teens leading the charge. Is it really the kids or is that just the first thing that comes to mind for people to say to us as an excuse? We have not idea. But it got us thinking.

How is it any different for adults to decide to feed their kids the Standard American Diet (SAD) when they know plants are healthier? Or to not give their teens the opportunity to eat foods that will reduce their acne, keep their heart healthy and reduce the risk of their developing type 2 diabetes in the future? As adults we know how hard it is to get our taste buds to acclimate to enjoying foods that haven’t been processed with tons of salt, sugar and fat, why would someone put their children on the path to have to make that change later in life (or risk suffering from one of the common chronic diseases)?

Typically, a child has to be introduced to a new food 10-15 times before he or she accepts it. The exceptions are sugar and fat. Have you seen the video of the toddler trying bacon for the first time? It’s a little sad how much he loves it and the path that puts him on for life.

We certainly aren’t in the business of giving child rearing advice. And we aren’t suggesting someone could hide their child from all animal and processed products for life (let’s not even get started on what they are fed at school). Our goal is to provide something to consider and allow you to make decisions based on real information. Perhaps fat, salt or sugar treats as rewards aren’t the best option. What relationship does that create for the child with food? How does it condition their taste buds? Is that the best path for their long-term health?

We aren't saying that a piece of birthday cake or a cookie now and then is the end of the world (Robyn likes cookies!). But perhaps we could think a little more about "food" as a reward when we win, a consolation prize when we lose and a celebration whenever we have an excuse.

If you are ready to address how your food choices are negatively affecting your health, let’s set up a free get-to-know-you chat. Send me an email and let’s get you on track to taking control of your stress eating. Health@RnRJourney.com

Dr Robyn is a former competitive volleyball player turned psychologist with continuing education in nutrition. Russ is a former competitive bodybuilder and trainer on the Mr. Olympia Tour. They are the co-founders of Whole Food Muscle and the authors of How to Feed a Human The Whole Food Muscle Way. To work with them one on one to improve your health and fitness or to have them speak at your event or organization email them at Health@RnRJourney.com.