Reclaim Mealtime

Family preparing a meal

The busy life of a parent is a shock to a lot of us. It was to me. But, this was the life I signed up for. It’s up to me to figure out where busy-ness pushes too hard, where stress reaches in to squeeze me and ruin my health, and where I just need to gently but firmly push back and reclaim the parent I intend to be.

If you are ready to reclaim your natural parenting, start one place where you can model for your children, and, really, for yourself, that ideal you want. Start with time that matters for health, for calm, and for culture. Start by reclaiming mealtime from preparation through clean up. Make the whole meal family time.

Someone whose embrace of healthy, whole foods is really inspirational to me is Tamara, our own Nature Mom. She didn’t do it because she’s has some extraordinary will power that the rest of us lack. She experienced a problem as a parent (allergies), and she kept working on the fix. She developed habits of even healthier eating as the solution to allergies, and it didn’t happen all at once.

Question: How did you come to reclaim mealtimes and whole foods for your family?

We didn’t really have a choice but to get to this point with our eating, but it was a long process. My two girls (ages 3.5 and almost 7) and I have very long lists of allergies that had been causing health problems for years. It took 3 years to get to where I don’t have to constantly think about food because it’s our lifestyle now, not just a burden or challenge. It hasn’t been easy, but you do what you have to do for your kids. We were never big junk food eaters (I grew up with no pop, no fast food, no junk food) but learning to cook without processed foods (no cans, jars or boxed food) was the tough for me.

3 Steps to Reclaim Mealtime

  • Take it slow. Understand that food is more than fuel. Create a family habit of slow cooking and slow eating. If you want support from a community of people who also recognize the importance of the meal, look for convivia (chapters) in your area through Slow Food Canada or Slow Food USA.
  • Sit down together, face to face, when you eat. Reclaim that time with your children—and with yourself! Clear off the table so you won’t be tempted to eat elsewhere.
  • Embrace wholefoods. If it’s overwhelming to think of making all meals from scratch right now, just start by replacing one processed food a week as you shop. You can work on banning all boxed, canned, and other processed foods as you go.

This morning, as my husband was writing a shopping list and asking about food for the coming week, I saw him write canned tomatoes on the list.

“We talked about this. No canned tomatoes.”
“But, they don’t have whole tomatoes in glass jars.”
“I’ll tell you where they do have them.”
“In the vegetable aisle. Just buy tomatoes. It’s not that hard to blanch a tomato.”

I thought we were already past that decision. We’ve had the conversation before, and we might have it again. It is not easy to get to the point where everyone in your family is moving in the same direction. Cooking from scratch is a project in process in my house. Don’t stress it. Just move forward gently but firmly.

Just reclaim one meal at a time, and slow down.

Image © Zurijeta |

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