What Did Your Mom Teach You about Food and Nutrition?


For many, your mom is the first person to teach you about food and nutrition. Whether it’s eating healthfully, cooking food safely, or making a family recipe, these lessons often shape your food and nutrition habits throughout life.

While we know some food and nutrition advice is to be taken with a grain of salt, this Mother’s Day, the IFIC Foundation staff is remembering practical – and science-based – food and nutrition words of wisdom our moms shared with us that we still practice today. We at IFIC Foundation thank our mothers and grandmothers for their advice and hope readers of Food Insight find something new here that you can adopt and share with your mom or your own son or daughter.

And don’t forget to call your mom on May 10 and wish her a “Happy Mother’s Day!”

Liz Caselli-Mechael: My mom taught me that sometimes it’s okay to give yourself a break on cooking. On a busy night, there are plenty of healthful and affordable meals you can pick up outside the house. It’s not worth it to wear yourself down with stress – just let the guilt go and do what makes sense for you!

Marcia Greenblum, MS, RDN: My mother could have invented the MyPlate meal. We always ate as a family and had a protein, starch, and vegetable for dinner, preceded by a fruit appetizer. If someone worked late or had late classes, she waited and kept the meal warm for them. I didn’t really appreciate how unique this was until I left home.

Liz Sanders, MPH, RDN: My mom was a busy working woman who showed me that a meal doesn’t have to be expensive or time-intensive to be healthful (and delicious). She might not have been a 4-star chef, but she always whipped up a nutritious meal on a tight schedule!

Dave Schmidt: My mother is a wonderful example of working with the foods and ingredients already at hand to ensure every meal was balanced, as well as delicious and nutritious.  Today I enjoy making great soups inspired with what we have in the pantry, fridge, or freezer.

Laura Kubitz: My mom taught me a very important step when making chocolate chip cookies. She told me that it is crucial to “test” the chocolate chips before mixing them with the batter by eating a handful of semi-sweet morsels before the blending process. She also taught me that sometimes it’s OK to put a little extra butter in the cake or cookie recipe. Food is meant to nourish your body and your soul. Sometimes that means a bit more butter than the recipe calls for.  

 Lindsey Loving: My mom raised me as a single mom while working a full-time job, but she still managed to put comforting, nutritious, and delicious food on the table every night! Her cooking is full of flavor, enriched with our Southern and Italian family heritage. To this day, I can’t make my fried chicken and mashed potatoes taste anywhere near as good as hers! Although I was a picky eater, she never forced me to eat something I didn’t like, and now as an adult, my palate is even broader than hers!


 Matt Raymond: When I was young, I was hypoglycemic. I would often faint at the most inopportune times, such as during church, and my mom had to carry candy with her in case I passed out. She taught me to consume fewer sugars and eat more foods that were high in protein. After that, I never had another fainting episode. Her advice about striking a balance between simple carbs and protein has also helped my weight management throughout my life.


 Kimberly Reed: Although my mother, Janet Logue Reed, had an early passing when I was a small girl, she instilled in me early memories of food and tradition, such as making Christmas cookies – her cookie cutters continue to bring back that precious memory.  My grandmother Avis Reed – better known as “Mommers” – stepped in to raise me in and wisely signed me up for 4-H when I was in the 4th grade. 
A great memory was winning a blue ribbon first prize for my first public demonstration project on how to make homemade hot cocoa.  Although I will never forget how nervous I was addressing a room full of strangers, my success likely was secured when I correctly answered the judge’s question on the nutritional benefits of my tasty, warm drink!

 Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA: Growing up on a dairy farm, I had a “hands on” experience with growing food and cooking from scratch! Meals were always balanced (meat, vegetable, and dairy), with a little dessert.  My mother is almost 90 and she still tries new recipes, makes a pie crust from scratch, and it’s not Thanksgiving without her dressing! Growing up, I didn’t always appreciate the work associated with eating the food we had to produce, but I know I am lucky to understand and appreciate how our food is produced!

What #foodlessons did you learn from your parent or grandparent? Tweet them to us @FoodInsight!