In this high anxiety time of the COVID-19 pandemic it seems odd to sit hear and write a blog for MBFOM about 4 tips on how to relax around food, yet here we are. Hoping you all enjoy this blog on a more comforting and pleasant topic.
It has been one year since the release of the new Canada’s Food Guide. One of the key components to the new food guide is that healthy eating is more than food. For many of us, food is closely tied to our own emotions and experiences. It can be difficult to make room within your own food relationship to let our kids find space to discover their own. This can lead to anxiety about whether we are doing the “right” thing.
We have so many messages being thrown at us many times a day, encouraging us to be fitter, skinnier, make meal times fun, let your kids eat candy, have family meals, let them eat what they want to but also provide the “right” foods. It is exhausting trying to make sure we are doing the right things for us, never mind our kids. Well your friendly MBFOM dietitian is here to ask you let go of all the extra pressure and relax around food with these 4 tips.
- Enjoy Eating Time
Currently, so many of us are preparing for kids being home from school and other activities. This is a fantastic opportunity to really take the time to eat with our loved ones and enjoy the conversation with your family. Really slow down and allow yourself time to enjoy your food, because well, where else are you going right now?
Put away your cell phones and other distractions (click bait is so tempting!) and make mealtimes “electronic free”.
A perk to enjoying your eating time is that you are more likely to notice when you are hungry and when you are full. If this is something you feel like you struggle with and would like to reconnect, let me know.
2. Plan Your Meals
We all feel better and more relaxed when we have a plan. You can make healthy eating easier by planning what you eat. Planning your meals and snacks helps you make healthier choices, save time grocery shopping, get meals on the table faster and with less stress, and reduces food waste because you only buy what you need and will use. So again, plan your meals. I feel like this is as simple and effective as telling people to wash their hands, it’s not eye-catching or new information but IT WORKS.
There’s no right or wrong way to plan meals. You can plan for the whole week ahead, or you can plan for a couple of days at a time. Do what works for you.
Try these ideas to make planning what you eat part of your routine:
- Set aside some time to make your plan.
- Set yourself up to have all the information you need. Write down your meal ideas or new recipes.
- Store your old meal plans and favourite recipes in a binder, on your phone or on your computer/tablet. You can reuse the plans and recipes that you liked.
While planning meals may seem daunting, you will find that the more you plan what you eat, the easier it gets.
3. Involve Other Healthy Individuals in the Meal Prep and Planning
I feel like a bit of a broken record with this one, but getting kids involved in age appropriate meal prep and planning has huge benefits, including nurturing healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. I added the healthy qualifier because if anyone is exhibiting flu like symptoms, they ideally shouldn’t be preparing food for others.
Involving others in planning and preparing meals lets you:
- share food and cooking
traditions while exploring healthy new foods
- spend quality time with loved ones and connect to those around you
- learn and share important food skills
- make preparing meals and snacks more fun and less work
Usually there are so many ideas for how to involve others in planning and preparing meals but when we are trying not to socialize due to COVID-19 we can get a bit creative in our use of technology:
- Video call a friend while making a recipe together.
- Invite your relatives to share by phone, video or email the history of a favourite family food or recipe and plan a future date for them to teach you how to prepare it.
- Host a cooking event for your kids. Let them look through your pantry, fridge, freezer and plan a menu with what’s available. Tell them to be creative!
- Participate in an electronic recipe exchange with your friends. Share your easy weekday meal ideas or your special holiday favourites.
4. Share Food Traditions and Culture
One technique to help us use the emotions we associate with food from our childhood is to share them with our kids in a no pressure environment. We all have foods we grew up with that became part of a tradition or are part of our culture. In many cultures, food and food traditions are central in celebrations and play a big part in connecting us to others. Part of the enjoyment of eating is choosing healthy foods that reflect your preferences. Your preferences and eating habits can be shaped by many things, including cultures and food traditions. Believe it or not healthy eating does not come in a one size fits all. It can be adaptable and reflect various cultures and food traditions.
If you become bored or in need of something to entertain both you and your kids in the next few weeks, take a cultural adventure and try these ideas to include cultures and food traditions:
- Learn about different foods
around the world and try one of them on their own or in a new recipe. You could
expand this to learning about the country that food was from and having a whole
week dedicated to your country of choice.
- Research how food was grown, harvested, fished, hunted and prepared in traditional ways and try a new technique. If you have never made bannock with your kids, try it out!
- Preserve and share family recipes. Recipes and food traditions are a part of family history. Dust off your family recipes and make one that brings you joy when you think about eating it. Discuss with your family, your memories and feelings linked to that meal.
Remember that raising healthy eaters does not have to be a point of stress or anxiety. In fact, many techniques encourage parents to take a more relaxed approach and simply guide or assist their kids through their journey with food by providing a variety of foods, at frequent but specific times throughout the day and teaching them how to prepare their own healthy foods by getting them involved in age appropriate tasks. In today’s day and age, where fear grows on trees, isn’t it nice to know not everything has to be hard?
This post was inspired by Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month campaign. You can learn more at www.nutritionmonth2020.ca.
Be kind to each other,
Lindsay Martens, RD