Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In Search of Better Eating

Last night, I stumbled on an article about the benefits of eating at home.  Over the last few months, I have been pondering how much I hate dieting, how there must be another way to be a healthy weight.  After all, the huge numbers of diet books published every year have failed to make a dint in obesity rates.  Calorie counting started around the turn of the 20th century; there is some evidence to suggest that obesity rates started to rise around the same time.  So is counting every bite of food you eat really doing any good, anyway?  (I am NOT saying that counting calories has caused obesity, but this is certainly interesting to think about.)

I believe there is something wrong with the way we eat.  There is something going on besides laziness or lack of willpower.  This paragraph, from Dr. Hyman's article (linked above), sums up my feelings of late: "That we need nutritionists and doctors to teach us how to eat is a sad reflection of the state of society. These are things our grandparents knew without thinking twice about them. What foods to eat, how to prepare them, and an understanding of why you should share them in family and community have been embedded in cultural traditions since the dawn of human society."

I feel like I'm stuck in a processed-food wasteland.  My body is addicted to crap, and I'm starting to realize that I hardly know how to make food that doesn't come out of a box.  I have no clue how to pick good produce, and I can only guess at how to wash and cut it.  I buy pre-made sauces because I wouldn't know how to begin to make them.  I want to eat better, but I have no idea how. 

Likewise, I would love for my family to eat dinner at the table, but I'm almost lost on how to make it happen.  I grew up eating in front of the television except for Sunday dinners at Granny's house or on holidays.  I've watched my mom and aunt put together a meal and somehow manage to get the food on the table on time.  How is this mystery done?  It seems like a sad sort of failure not to know such an essential thing.

So tell me, have you managed to escape processed-food land and to make your table more than a decoration?  Any advice would be appreciated.  :-)


  1. Sadly, all my efforts of eating at the table were thwarted when you were growing up. Eventually, much to my shame, I gave up trying. However, you didn't seem to be that interested in being in the kitchen when you were growing up. That is very common in your youth. I would be glad to show you how to coordinate at any given time you would like me to. Maybe this old dog could teach you a few new tricks!

  2. I had no idea why we never ate at the table, just that we didn't. That wasn't intended to be critical, just a statement of what was. I wasn't interested in being in the kitchen because I hate to cook. But I'm coming to realize that I need to suck it up and get to cooking anyway. :) I think my weight has less to do with how much I eat than what I eat.

    I could certainly use coordination help. I can't even get hamburgers and french fries done at the same time. LOL

  3. A few years ago, I started feeling much the same way. My advice? Watch a lot of Food Network, especially Alton Brown, because he explains the science of food, which makes it much more interesting. :)
    My mom also tried (and failed) to enforce a dinner table dining experience -- probably mostly because I didn't want to -- ha! But encouraging respect for ingredients and healthy, tasty food certainly needs to be a priority for our generation as we bring in the next. :)

  4. Food Network is a wonderful suggestion--I watch it a lot. Semi-home made with Sara somebody has really good ideas! Just remember--confidence--it's just food you are making--so it shouldn't be scary or unnerving. I agree with you. We weren't overweight growing up--going out to eat was a treat and maybe MAYBE happened once a month. Once in a while my brother or sisters ordered a pizza. Everything was made at home. Dinner at kitchen table every night, breakfast at kitchen table every morning, and a packed lunch for school--sometimes of dinner leftovers--like sliced meat on bread. I'll admit, Dane and I don't eat at the dining room table--we eat at the coffee table. But I have been trying to make an effort to make dinner every night--sometimes it's hard if he works til 10PM--but nights he's home by 8-9PM, I'm trying to make dinner. "Moms" set the tone of a home. If you want Kira to appreciate table eating--make it literally a ritual in your home. Because that is what the preparation of food really is--a sacred act. Maybe if we all viewed it as we are creating tradition, health, connection, and wellness for our families it might help with the motivation. We do a big dinner feast with friends about every 6 weeks or so and the foods are based on the time of year and what's in season--and what came out of that is that people who never cooked before are creating dishes and experimenting--which is a wonderful thing. What I found from cooking at home more frequently is we are saving money--and that is a big motivator. We even found these cute little microwave breakfast sandwiches which we've been doing instead of our weekly breakfast at McDonald's. And the calories are less than McD's as well! An easy way to cook is crockpotting. They are inexpensive--maybe $25 and you don't have to hawk over it like a pot on the stove nor worry about burning food.

  5. The ingredients in processed foods just scare me. I always read the labels when shopping and try to buy fresh. I don't own a microwave. No microwave – no microwavable food from a box :-) I also don't buy chips or chocolate (but my husband does, so I do eat these things but rarely). I like cooking when I have time, it turned out to be not that difficult.