– No – The Healthiest Word in the English Language


As a child, this frequent exchange with my dad while traveling in the car drove me to tears and sometimes clenched fists. It’s not fair!

Today, I wish I had never opened my big mouth. I wish I’d known then what my parents knew – that the road to good health does not lead to the “Golden Arches.”

My mom and dad, sisters and I often spent Sunday afternoons visiting with family friends. We always enjoyed a wonderful dinner. Despite that, on the way home a couple of hours later, my face was plastered against the backseat window – I had eagle eyes when it came to spotting the golden symbol of that amazing fast food.

“Dad, can we stop pleeeaaase?”


“Why not?”

“Because I said so.”

No explanation, no burger, no fries, no nothing.

I always thought it was because my parents had no money; but that really wasn’t the case. Although they did follow a tight budget, they just chose to spend their money more wisely. And to be honest, Dad did stop for fast food once in a while, maybe once or twice a year. That’s how I knew I must have it whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Our family meals were great. Dad made the best barbecued chicken that, to this day, I have ever had. That was accompanied by a baked potato and big green salad with lettuce and other veggies from our garden. We never used store-bought salad dressing –
I didn’t even know it existed. We ate our salads dressed with oil and vinegar. Today, I only eat my salads with olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

One food I did not like was steak. We had to eat it the way my dad liked it: well done. Might as well have eaten my shoe. I did not enjoy a decent steak until I was 21 years old and discovered the joy of a rare ribeye.

Years later, as we got older, our parents relaxed the rules. That’s when chips and dip, pizza and other previously taboo foods came into the house. Not to speak ill of the dead, but our fresh veggies ceased after Mom got her microwave oven. That’s when frozen vegetables became the norm. If I never see a medley of frozen broccoli, carrots and cauliflower again, it will be too soon.

Now that I am much older, I regret the years of eating fast foods and pizza, and thinking that daily exercise was stupid, even though I spent more than 40 years working at a desk all day.

Today, I’m working hard to undo all that. I eat much healthier meals and hired a wonderful personal trainer who helps me weekly with my fitness goals at the gym.

Currently in this country, one in six children is obese. One in three is overweight. Parents, do your kids a favor and keep saying “NO” to unhealthy foods and drinks – no matter how much they beg.  


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