Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Emotional Dividends of Dining Together

I heard something interesting yesterday ~ that the risk of children drifting in adolescence into drug and alcohol abuse is significantly lower in those families that dine together.

That's profound, because it gives testimony to the importance of connection. The family dinner table can not only offer physical nurturing with good food ~ it can also provide the opportunity to listen, and be listened to, and that's a huge investment in our emotional health.


Not all of the exchanges at the dinner table promote self esteem, and some family gatherings regularly set the stage for what can be labeled as nothing other than abuse. Whether subtle or blatant, abuse is abuse ~ and that can create a whole new type of hunger that can become a life-long craving, making food, alcohol or drugs appear as comforting solutions.

But in a climate of mutual respect, both body and soul can receive the nourishment that allows us to thrive on all levels.

In those situations, sitting down together can be a very powerful anti drug! It's an opportunity we all have. See that you make the most of it!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Eating Well is a Life Long Journey

I've talked a lot to folks about their struggle with diets. It's perpetual for so many people, because they gain and loose the same 20 or 30 pounds over aand over again, often picking up a few more pounds each time around.

It's crazy ~ you know, that repeated cycle of doing the same thing over and over again and yet hoping for different results. It takes a huge amount of energy ~ because when you're on a diet you thnk about it all the time. It's not fun because it's a time dedicated to discipline and depravation somehow with the misplaced belief that we deserve to be on this spartan course, all the while knowing we probably won't succeed anyway. We believe we won't win ~ which we equate with reaching a goal.

But eating for health is a larger picture than just losing weight. Losing weight is closely tied to how we look, and, yes, that's important.  But if we're eating to invest in our health, that's a bigger story because it continues long after we lose some pounds.

The goal here is to create an internal, physical climate that provides us with energy and balance. Eating the right foods (and you know what they are!) can do that, along with regular exercise. If that becomes your lifestyle, the pounds will go anyway!

Feeding Children

People say it costs a lot to feed kids. Very true, if they're teenagers. At that stage, they need a lot of fuel because their bodies are changing so much.

But keeping young children fed and nourished is probably a lot more complicated and costly than it needs to be. I've noticed when I make a sandwich for my young granddaughters (ages three and six) that a half sandwich is plenty if I add a sliced apple and some baby carrots. Of course, usually just an hour or two later they're asking for something else, so I make it a practice to keep a sliced apple available on the counter, and popcicles in the fridge (made from unsweetened fruit juice).

Another option is to put some fresh fruit in a blender with some yogurt, milk and honey ~ along with a few ice cubes ~ to make a smoothie.

What I figured out is that grazing works better for kids ~ and for all of us, really.

Traveling around town is the car is a critical time when the food decisions often aren't the best.  A couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches wrapped and placed in an insulated lunch bag, and some small cartons of raisins can make a big difference in time, money and nutrition, when the other choice would be to pull into a drive through window at a fast food shop!

They key, of course, is to plan ahead. Even just a few bites of a food rich in fiber ~ like vegetables or fruit ~ along with a bit of protein from, say, a couple of peanut butter crackers can stop those mid-morning or mid-afternoon cravings and keep everyone in stride with eating healthier!