The other day my 2-year-old son moved so close to the TV that I thought he was going to try to climb inside. "You'll hurt your eyes sitting so close to the TV," my husband warned him. Immediately, I was reminded of all the sayings my mother had in reserve for my own childhood antics and activities. As I marveled at the fact that my husband and I had heard the same thing from our parents as children, I started to wonder about the real worth of some of those other sayings we've all heard at some time.
"Eat your carrots so you'll be able to see in the dark." This one actually has some merit. Carrots are a source of vitamin A and vitamin C, both of which contain phytochemicals that contribute to healthy vision.
"Eating spinach will make you big and strong." It can certainly help, because spinach is a good source of dietary iron. You may not experience the same earth-shaking effects that Popeye did when he ate his spinach, but eating more spinach will help boost your body's iron stores, providing cardiovascular protection, improving bone health, and helping to prevent colon cancer.
"Eating chocolate will give you pimples." This dire prediction has probably been extremely influential on teenage diets worldwide. Although chocolate and greasy foods have been labeled as a cause of acne for decades, there is actually little conclusive evidence of a correlation between diet and acne.
"An apple a day keeps the doctor away." For a number of reasons, this is a saying to heed. The antioxidant content of apples fights cell damage and consequently helps prevent illness. We know that eating five fruits and vegetables a day is one key to a healthy diet, so eating an apple a day will start you on your way to this daily goal.
"If you don't finish your dinner you cannot have any dessert." Over the decades, parents probably said this without wondering much about its nutritional significance. However, the thought process behind it certainly makes sense. Desserts are frequently high in sugar and fat and have minimal nutritional value, whereas the main course of a meal is more likely to be rich in vitamins and minerals.
"You are what you eat." This saying has gained popularity in recent years and I suspect it's here to stay. We know that eating a nutrient-rich, low-fat diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables has many health benefits. Some of us we need keep this saying in the front of our minds as we reach for the extra donut!