I have a confession to make: our family hasn't been eating very healthy recently. There are lots of reasons. Summer vacation, mom's broken shoulder, back to school, demanding schedules, and limited down-time are the biggest culprits. Jonas has been eating like a king, except when he lost his appetite recently while adjusting to his ADHD meds. I, on the other hand, have been eating at off-hours, Steve's been skipping breakfast and very often lunch, and Tasha is a take-out counter junkie.
It seems like when life gets crazy, family dinner is the first casualty. Very often, one or two of us hasn't been hungry when dinner time rolls around, and those of us that can cook have rarely felt like it. Oh we made sure that the seven year-old had well-timed, well-balanced meals, but not always the rest of us. We'd very often end up eating a quickly thrown together meal of convenience foods, sitting in front of the tv, some of us eating and some not, and none of us talking. To quote the wise young man (Jonas) it's been "just terrible".
The family meal is so important. It's the one meal of the day that we are all together. That means it's the one time of the day we can be sure that we're all eating healthy. It's also a time the we can all sit down together and catch up on what's going on in our lives. Sure, we've been in the same room but we have't really been together.
No more! We've made a family resolution to fix family dinner. Breakfast and lunch are on the radar too, but the biggest mountain we have to tackle is dinner. Once a day we are going to sit at the table, eat a healthy meal and talk about what happened during the day - and the TV will be off, as will be all the laptops, phones, doorbells, etc. We know we won't do it if it's too complicated but we also know that we won't do it if we don't have a few guidelines. So, we have a simple three-part plan.
Every good Scout knows that you have to be prepared. That's the first part of our plan: planning ahead with basic menu plans, recipes and shopping lists. I'm the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer so it's my job to make sure the food is in the house. First we decide what we'd like to eat - and everyone gets a say. Then we pick a recipe, figure out what we need to make it AND write it all down in a daily calendar. Then mom and a helper hit the grocery store. This is the most critcal part of the plan. If the food isn't there, we'll fall back into our old bad habits. Take-out and delivery are just too easy.
The second part of the plan is that everyone does something to help with the meal. We all have demanding days and it's easy to get overwhelmed when you feel like you have to do it all yourself. Three of us are capable cooks, and even Jonas can make a wicked salad and sandwich. Prepping, cooking, setting and clearing the table, and doing the dishes is so much easy when we tackle it as a team.
Next comes the tricky part: the actual food. We all like stuff that isn't good for us. Steve is addicted to pop, we're both addicted to coffee, and Tasha has a sweet tooth. Rather than preach at each other, we've decided to concentrate on one meal where we elimiate the crap and add the good stuff we need. We're going to have a tradtional roast dinner on the weekends, fish at least once a week, and ordering in or getting take out is now reserved for once a month. Fruits and veggies are our biggest challenge. Our new rule is that every dinner has to include at least two coloured vegetables, and a fruit for dessert. Potatoes are yummy but don't count as a vegetable unless they are sweet potatoes, for example.
It sounds pretty simple to me, and I'm kind of embarassed that we have to make such a concious effect to make it happen. Every January I am reminded that I'm not as heathy as I want or need to be. This year feels different. Maybe it's because I'm about to turn 40, or because managing my lupus is getting harder, but I'm determined to make it happen this time. Go Team Blanchard!