What are you doing to eat your best? Are you tackling a new years resolution or possibly trying to make sense of the new dietary guidelines? I’ve been monitoring the chatter and it seems like many people, like each new year before this one, are putting their best foot forward in an attempt to change the way they eat. Unfortunately, a lot of what I’ve seen isn’t going to result in positive, long-lasting change. In fact, at this point, you may already be struggling with the goals you have set or may have given up entirely.
So I’m going to keep things super simple and help guide you with one simple tip. Make meals at home and eat them together.
Earth-shattering right!?! No, it doesn’t really get any more basic than that. But if you aren’t doing this one essential step, it’s probably going to be difficult to eat well for an extended period of time.
You see, none of the other food rules matter if you aren’t actively living out wellness. To do this, you have to make time for those nourishing foods that will equip your body to do amazing things. You also have to get familiar with their flavors and their uses, and the only way to truly do that is to start figuring out how to utilize them in the kitchen.
But I get it… this seems pretty vague. Not to mention, it’s hard to make the time or know where to start. Luckily, you have me here to help you. And guess what? This is a principle I live by. BUT please don’t read this as “Kati eats every meal at home. I do work full-time, commute an hour and 10 minutes one-way to my office, have two boys in school, a husband who is often off on trips for work, and we just recently became foster parents. I don’t want to give you a false representation of my life after all! Yet for us, we are able to get meals on the table most nights because it’s a priority for us. We’re also okay with the occasional failed meal and the exploratory nature learning to cook requires.
So here are my real-life, practical tips for eating meals at home together.
First, commit to it. Make the decision that this matters. By doing so, you will already be more intentional about making time for meals.
Make a plan. Take an honest look at your week ahead. What days can you make a meal at home? Even if its just one day this week, that’s a step in the right direction.
Kick those excuses to the curb. If you aren’t making meals at home, there are probably obstacles, both big and small, preventing you from doing so. Don’t let those obstacles make your decisions for you. Do what you can to make time for meals at home. For my family, we took ownership of our dinners and are intentional about keeping that space open. Between 6-7 pm we eat. We make this known to our friends and family so that no one is offended if we say no to something occurring during that time frame.
Start with the basics. Once you’ve committed yourself and found the time for making a meal at home, you’ll probably want a few recipes to start out with. Although you can easily search online for a variety of recipes, another great way to get started is to identify a few of your families favorite meals. Can you recreate them at home if they are meals you typically order out? Or perhaps they are at-home family favorites that you can modify by adding in fresh ingredients. To truly discover how foods work together, simple is typically best. Whole fruits and vegetables, grains, dairy, beans, legumes, seafood, meat, herbs, spices, and oils – and if you ever thought eating “healthy” was limiting, well, you might just be surprised with just how many basic foods are out there.
Have fun. Enjoy your time trying new food combinations and spending time together. Keep in mind that eating well isn’t just about eating the “right” foods. Its about what foods rich in nutrients equip you to do. Hopefully, its more than counting calories – hopefully its about living a very full and active life.
Never stop learning. You’d think with as long as I’ve been a dietitian I would have learned all there is to learn about food and nutrition. Nope. Not. even. close. And that’s part of what I love about this field. It’s important to always be learning and to always have an open mind. It’s a journey and it’s definitely one worth having.
As you begin enjoying more meals at home, I hope you’ll share your successes (and failures!) with me. I’ll be sure to do the same as I continue to learn and grow along with you.