We’re a little beyond two weeks into the new year, and already a large number of those who made health related New Year’s Resolutions have begun to backslide. While a number of studies show large numbers of people sticking to their “new year – new me” mentality for the first week, the decline is sharp. By the six month mark, less than 50% of people will have stuck to those resolutions and in the long run only about 8% will achieve those goals.
With those numbers in mind, maybe a paradigm shift is in order. Maybe some answers can be found in a new approach to food and health. Instead of approaching mealtime as a warrior marching into battle, ever to fall before the barrage of burgers, fries, pizza, and steak – maybe we can begin to approach food with respect and admiration – and just maybe that paradigm shift can help shift our relationship with food.
1. Resolve to Enjoy More Meals with Loved Ones
As parents, my wife and I were be no means perfect. Indeed, our list of parental mistakes would likely be a lengthy one. However there exists one family value we remain proud of to this day; a value our adult children (each in their 20’s) remain thankful for. Almost without exception, our kids were expected to be at the family dinner table Monday through Thursday evening. We gathered, we ate, we talked, we made memories.
In a society where the majority of American families report “eating a single meal together less than five days a week,” mealtime is primed and ready to bring families together. As mealtime passed on those weeknights, we played a “high – low” game. Ask the average kid how their day went, and one is likely to get the standard “fine.” Ask what they learned at school and the answer is likely to be “nothing.” Our high – low game was designed to get past those surface answers. Around the table each person had to list their “high” for the day, and their “low” for the day. It got us talking in depth… all around the dinner table.
Beyond the immediate family, there are extended family members, friends, and friends waiting to be made. Find opportunities to “break bread” with others this year and enjoy mealtime a bit more.
2. Resolve to Eat Better Food.
I’m self employed and my workday is often spent driving from one customer to the next in a mad rush against the clock. Many days I pack a lunch or my wife packs it for me. At the moment my wife is out of town for a few weeks. This morning I left the house without packing a lunch. My midday “meal” today was a large pepperoni stick from a gas station (in the past there have been gas station corn dogs, gas station burritos, etc.) Two hours later while battling a bad case of heartburn, I was cursing my decisions. The misery was directly linked to a lack of planning and preparation.
With 175 billion pins and 291 million active monthly users, Pinterest is a veritable treasure trove of meal prep ideas. The number of recipes which are not only healthy, but downright scrumptious seem virtually endless. Spend a bit of time each week looking for new recipes and new ways of fixing old favorites. Like a prospector digging for gold, treasures are waiting to be found.
For that meal out – instead of gas station grub – my time, money, and general well being would be better served with a bit of “restaurant research.” Find restaurants which pride themselves in healthier options – options which are just as tasty as the less healthy menu options. With a bit of research, the meal out doesn’t have to be an either-or; it doesn’t have to be healthy OR tasty, the meal out can be healthy AND tasty.
3. Resolve to be Thankful for your Food and for Those You’re Able to Enjoy it With.
When we think of food and thankfulness, the Thanksgiving holiday will likely jump to mind. However for the person who chooses to live a life of gratitude year around, the benefits are proven and numerous. Living a life of thankfulness and appreciation leads to benefits such as improved health, better sleep, and mental strength among other things.
Be intentional this year. When enjoying a great meal, don’t just scarf it down in a rush. Savor the flavors, savor those sharing the meal, and be thankful for both. These are three food resolutions which have to power to leave one truly satisfied at the end of a meal and in a better frame of mind for the long-term.