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Food For Thought

By Gillian Johnston, RNC

What do most people think of when they here the word nutrition?

Eating the recommended services of fruits and vegetables?
Eating a health, balanced diet?
Getting enough protein in my diet?
Take a daily supplement?

While these recommendations are important there is so much more.

Jay and I were having a conversation the other night and Jay raised such a terrific point.
He said, “food made with love tastes different.” I couldn’t agree more. Remember going to Grandma’s house and walking in to a smell of delicious food cooking…or cookies in the oven? How did that make you feel? I know how it made me feel.

I believe there are things lacking in our busy lives that are responsible for the fact that we may be the first generation to outlive our children. We have very young boys showing signs of heart disease and diabetes. We have young girls, some as young as 10, showing signs of osteoporosis.

These dis-eases in the young are poor diet and exercise related. A heavy fat and carbohydrate diet accompanied by lack of exercise is a recipe for disaster and a shorter life. Some of the girls being diagnosed with early signs of osteoporosis are taking the opposite extreme, being overly concerned with body image and therefore not eating enough of the right foods so they can to be thin.

So how do we address these issues in the young and turn this around?

Our children are grown up now and have children of their own and I have seen a lot of changes around food and family in the home in general. People’s lives are busy, sometimes to the point of hectic. Parents rushing off to work, children grabbing a quick breakfast, sometimes no breakfast before school and often too many after-school activities going on and again another quick snack grab. In many homes it is just the way it is. Cooking is just one more chore and not necessarily filled with the love and caring for the family.

So how do we put the love back into our food and daily life?

It takes focus, intent and planning.

If you don’t do anything else, please have dinner together, sitting together around the dinner table without distraction.

Do you remember giving birth and the joy and intense love you felt holding that new baby? We had all the time in the world for that baby. We would do anything for the baby. What happened? When did so many other things become more important?

Prepare dinner for your family with the love you have for them and the need of love they want from you. Generally, not always, it is one person’s responsibility to prepare the meal, which creates yet another “job” for Mom or Dad. If the children are old enough draw up a weekly menu plan and have a cook night for everyone. We did this with our family when the children where growing up. We had a weekly chart on the fridge so everyone knew when it was their turn.  Tuesday was always our daughter Val’s cook night. It is still known, 30 years later as “Taco Tuesday”. The meal had to be healthy and enjoyed at the table together. The bonus…. whoever cooks doesn’t clean up after dinner. Who doesn’t like that?

When families sit down together at the table, not only is it a time to enjoy their dinner, but it is such a great time to share the day. Take time to listen to your children; enjoy them, laugh with them they want and need to feel heard. Turn off the T.V. and any other distractions. Set a table, it only takes a few minutes.

Dinner time is probably the only meal of the day a busy family can sit down together but please make time for this; it creates bonds and connections and memories for everyone.

Breakfast and lunch are a different matter. It just doesn’t realistically work for most families to sit together for these meals. But…this is no excuse for not putting love into a healthy protein and fruit shake for breakfast and a nice little love note in their nutrition packed lunch kit. Send the children off to school with a hug and don’t forget to hug your wife or husband as they go about their day.

At the beginning or end of the day take quiet time for yourself. Allow the stress and worries of the day to dissipate and let your mind be clear. For some of us we are so busy we have forgotten how to take time for ourselves. Take a walk and breathe.

Home should be a safe and sacred place with love for all members of the family….does this describe your home? If not there are easy solutions if you have the intent and desire to make some small changes each day.

Healthy living!

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