Interview: Michelle Obama on Let's Move, Meal Planning, and Pinterest
Ms. Obama says that parents can also make choices that are both healthy and budget-friendly.
"One of the messages that we’re trying to send to parents in particular is that there is a way to make the healthy choice the affordable choice. The thing we have to sort of do as moms in this country is reeducate ourselves about how do you plan a meal from week to week. You know, how to buy a pack of wings, how to make a meal stretch, how to buy a can of beans and make it work and make it taste good. Those are skills we have to kind of relearn. My grandmother wasn’t a wealthy woman and she worked, but she cooked for her family. It was rare in my grandmother’s house that you ate out. We have to relearn that kind of stuff."
And that's why she, in a joint effort with publishers Hearst, Conde Nast, Meredith, and the Food Network, is now using Pinterest to help share healthy recipes. "No longer do you have your mom and your grandma around the corner, because we’re all so transient. But we have each other via Internet, where we can share ideas and tips for cooking, and recipes that are fast and quick and tasty. And the Internet is becoming that community for us as parents -- not just moms but as parents -- to sort of figure this stuff out. Well, how do you feed your family; this is how much we earn; what do you buy?"
Mrs. Obama then brought up a subject very near to my heart: eating your meals together at home.
"Those are some of the best times. I mean, in our household, we still make it a point that whatever the president is doing, he stops it at 6:30 p.m., because that’s the time we sit down and eat. And, it’s not just about a meal -- we say a prayer, we check in, that’s when we find out what’s going on. We hear the long story about what happened at school and where are the challenges, and you get the clues from the kids."
Family time around the table can have physical benefits, too. Mrs. Obama pointed out that talking over a meal slows down your intake of food.
"When you’re talking and sharing, you’re not eating so fast. So the focus isn’t just gobble down your food -- it’s more of a process. And so you eat a little slower, you put your knife down, you drink some water, you have a conversation. Before you know it, you’re full when you’re really full as opposed to eating because you’re in front of the TV."
She encouraged all of us to keep talking to parents about what we do to encourage healthy eating habits in our children, and to support each other in making changes at home -- because that's where habits are made. Kids may now get healthy lunches at school, but if they come home to cabinets filled with junk food and parents on the couch, they are not going to change their overall behavior.
"We also need parents talking to each other and encouraging each other, and not placing blame or pointing fingers or passing judgments, but just figuring out what are those small, incremental steps; what are those sacrifices I, as a parent, am willing to make for my kid even if I’m not ready for it. Even if I’m not ready for it for myself, but I’m ready for it for my kid."
And we can help. She told me she relies "a lot on women bloggers for support and for getting the word out. Because the truth is you guys, your audience, your platform is really the way of the future in terms of how do we get information out to people where they’re paying attention and they interact with it. It’s one of the reasons why we believe it’s so important to sit down with folks like you -- you’re the heartbeat of what’s going on in families."
"So," Mrs. Obama told me, "we need to keep sharing that information and figuring out how we make it easier for ourselves to do what we ultimately know is best for our kids."
I know I'm encouraged to keep creating healthier habits in my own home, so that my kids learn to make healthy choices on their own. And I'll definitely share what I learn. I'm beginning with Ms. Obama's suggestion that I start them out young with vegetables and other healthy food, so that they’re accustomed early on and there’s no transition. How about you? Let's share our wisdom.
Thank you, Ms. Obama, for spending time with me to talk about your passion for our children’s health and wellness!
Kelly Ripa will host Ms. Obama's first Google hangout today, March 4, at 11:10 ET. Highlights of the cafeteria cookoff air on the Rachael Ray Show on March 11, 2013.