A Slice of Guilt with a Side of Shame.

The secret ingredient to good food.

The secret ingredient to good food.

It can seem hard enough to put a decent meal on the table for your family, concerned about whether they are getting enough nutrients and keeping processed, chemical-laden foods to a minimum. You read labels, you buy local or organic, you keep up on the latest information on diet and nutrition. Have you considered what your family ingests along with their well-prepared meals? Something that is entirely within your household’s control.

Have you considered the emotions they consume at mealtime?

The day can get away on us, leaving us feeling stressed, over-worked and resentful as we feel pressured to prepare a nutritious meal on top of it all. The atmosphere in the kitchen becomes less than appetizing. Work problems may follow us home, to be hashed out over chopping the dinner veggies. Frustration and exhaustion spice the meat while guilt of not spending quality time with the kids- let alone taking time for ourselves -seasons the rice.

How about the atmosphere around the table? Does your family joke, share interesting stories from their day and make eye contact with one-another, connecting over a good meal? Or do your kids get a heapin’ helping of disappointment over their performance at school, mixed with a serving of agitation because their singing at the table is making your over-stressed head hurt?

Carve out a time for serious family discussions outside of meals. Don’t make your family choke them down with dessert.

Do you even eat at the table, or does everyone gravitate to their respective places in the house and electronic distractions?

Healthy eating isn’t only about the food choices we make, but about the tone we set around mealtime. If you seem to have more calories on your plate than you’d like, here are a few ways to create a healthier meal:

  • Leave your work at the office and traffic on the road. Take a few minutes to leave your day before entering the house. Take a quick walk around the block, a few deep, cleansing breaths in the front yard or even in the car. Consider biking, walking, taking the train, or alternate modes of transportation that allow you to relax, read a book, or enjoy nature between work and home.
  • Grab a shower or bath. If you struggle to shake off your day before dinner time, enjoy a little hydrotherapy. Take a quick shower with a few drops of invigorating mint or eucalyptus oils or a restorative bath with citrus or vanilla. Toss the kids in too if they need a boost. 10 minutes is all you need.
  • Treat your kitchen like a spa, and food- the therapies. Breathe, relax, light a candle, put on great music, sing, or dance. Enjoy preparing food and lead by example. You’ll be having such a good time, the rest of the family will want to join in. Put love into the food and gratitude for good meals and great family.
  • Keep the tone light. If light-hearted conversation doesn’t come easy at dinner, initiate a discussion about the up-coming family holiday and what everyone is excited to do, or ask how everyone is and how you can help them. Don’t feel pressured to talk about anything at all, enjoy the meal in contented silence or listening to your 5-year-old explain the nuances of his latest Lego creation. Simply savour good food and a break in your day to connect as a family.
  • Don’t rush the meal. Remember, this is your time at the spa. Nourish yourself and your family: body, mind and spirit.

One of the best things I do in my day is bring both kids home from school for lunch. I am fortunate to be able to do it and we all enjoy it. They like a hot meal on often-cold days and I get my head out of work and connect with them and their worlds through good food. As I drop the kids at school in the morning my son will often ask, “Mom, what’s on the menu for lunch today?” He looks forward to our midday mealtime together.

Strive for quality, fresh, nutritious food but don’t stress about what you have planned for dinner.┬áSometimes it’s less important what you serve than how you serve it. The most beautiful, nutritious meal can leave a sour taste in my mouth and a brick in my gut if I have to eat it with a side of someone’s hostility. While laughing and sharing great conversation and funny stories with family can find me content eating a hot dog (and a nice green salad on the side, of course!)

Set your intention for an easy, happy, healthy meal as you set your table for your family.

 

 

 

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