03/26/2013 05:22 pm ET Updated May 26, 2013

What I Teach My Daughters When They Watch Me Eat

The other day my daughter Imani asked me what I was eating. It was a simple enough question, but after I answered her she continued to watch me. She followed with a couple more questions, but the conversation that followed was what really made me smile. Kids can teach us some amazing things.

"Mommy, what are those green things?"

"Asparagus," I replied.

"And what is the pink stuff?"

"It's smoked salmon, with olive oil, and capers."

"Why do you eat so slow?"

At this point, I was beginning to laugh because she had her entire face in my plate, and her nose was glistening from the olive oil that rolled off of the my asparagus and landed on her face. She smiled, and wiped it with her finger and ate it.

"Ummmmmm, that looks good!! May I have some?"

"Sure," I said.

Then we sat together and ate smoked salmon; grilled asparagus with cracked black pepper, Himalayan pink salt, lemon zest, and parsley; and two chunks of crusty gluten-free baguettes. As I watched my 5-year-old take in the sights and smells of our Mediterranean feast, I noticed that she started watching everything I did. The way I dredged my bread through the oil. The number of capers I added to a bite of salmon. The size bite I took. (She even took some food off of her fork with her fingers to match mine, so cute!) Then I saw her get it! Her little "aha!" moment, as Ms. Oprah Winfrey calls it. The lightbulb went off in her head and she slowed down. She began to take deep breaths in between each bite, and developed her own rhythm. She started to do something I just learned to do in my early 30s, she found pleasure in her meal.

We sat together, talking, laughing, eating, and sharing something pretty special. So then I wanted to see if she felt any different. I asked her how her food was? What she tasted, and what it tasted like? If she liked capers by themselves, or only with the smoked salmon? How she liked the lemon zest on the asparagus? Whether she like the bread crusty and hot, or softened with the olive oil? What her favorite colors were on the plate? She discovered her own tastes, and things she liked. It was also empowering for her to see how easily I made a yummy lunch, in no time, that tasted so good. She saw that eating and spending time with me was just as much fun as sitting down and watching a 30-minute TV show.

But just to be clear, she wasn't the only one that learned a lot that day. I learned that every time I think about grabbing something -- even though it's made at home, but I rush it down to get to that next call, or meeting -- I'm doing my body a disservice. When I think I don't have 30 to 40 minutes to spend with my munchkins "right now" because the day has gotten away from me, I need to reassess the day! I learned that pleasure isn't a bad word! I learned that developing a healthy relationship with food isn't just important for me to maintain a healthy weight and fight disease, but because my baby girls need to see better habits in order to develop their own. It was almost like sitting in front of my 5-year-old self. An "aha!" moment for me!

Sure, we know our children learn things by watching us, but they are also developing a perspective on life. They are starting to develop mental constructs about what is OK and what's not, and that is a really great thing. So the next time you have some time to spend with your family, friends, and loved ones, really try to give them you! For however long that is, commit yourself, enjoy yourself, and take in all the pleasures the moment has to offer.


Smoked Salmon with Asparagus and Capers on a Toasted Baguette

3-4 slices of smoked salmon
2 tablespoons of capers
1 bundle of asparagus, washed, dried
1 baking sheet
1 gluten free baguette
2 tablespoons EVOO (Thanks, Rachael Ray, typing that all the time is a bit annoying!)
The zest of half a lemon


  • Preheat oven to 375*
  • Place cleaned and dried asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and top with lemon zest, parsley, salt and cracked black pepper
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until fork tender
  • Toast baguette slices until crispy and golden brown
  • Place smoked salmon, asparagus, and toasted baguette slices on your favorite plate, drizzle with a little more EVOO, and enjoy!


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