family dinner dynamics

We’ve had a recent change of routines with me returning to work.

I had taken {a very blessed} 5 months off since we moved from NOLA to St. Louis.

This happens a lot in life – things change – and we need to allow ourselves some time to adjust. But instead we are self-critical, impatient, perfectionists and just want things to settle soon so we can get used to the new process. When I say “we” I’m really meaning ME.

I feel like we have been pretty successful about keeping the house picked up, staying on top of the dishes & laundry, even working in cleaning the house. Apparently, you can see that for me to function well I need to have an organized and cleanly home. Truth.

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But one area I feel the pressure to get better at is dinner time.

As a dietitian I know what the recommendations are. I know why MY recommendations are- if they happen to be any different than the standards. And when I don’t meet these, while I may have gotten over the momentary hyper-criticalness, I still have this goal in the back of my mind of where I still think we need to be.

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For example, there have been some dinners over the last couple weeks that have consisted of just pizza; once a homemade pizza and last night a frozen pizza. I have one girl that is in a phase of food selectivity and is “learning to try and like ‘new’ things.  So she gets a fruit & veggie combo that she will take a few bites of.  My little one eats anything- for the most part – so I can heat up some frozen veggies and she is good. Sometimes she doesn’t eat them, but that’s ok with me. {As long as she is offered it, she can choose how much to eat. But it is our job to offer a variety of nutrient-rich foods, and that is a big, heavy, burdensome load to carry. And sometimes I drop that ball. But I’m trying to practice grace for myself there.}

But when it comes to something for my husband and myself in terms of a veggie side, we had stuff for a salad in the fridge actually, but I never made it. And neither did he. So we skipped it. And that really bothers me because I know the value and importance of veggies, but for some reason we can’t get it together.

How do we fix it?

I don’t know. Everyone gets pizza and a salad, and that’s it?!?

Easier said than done.

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That’s the ultimate goal. Maybe one day. Maybe my girls are too little for that right now and I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and work towards contentment and satisfaction with the work in progress rather than the perfect goal in my head.

I share this because as a dietitian and a mom doesn’t mean I have it all worked out when it come to balanced family dinners. We all have phases of life where we have a nice routine going and then life happens and we have to reassess and make changes. The adjustment period can throw us off for longer than we wish. I think it’s an important reminder that we all need to evaluate our nutrition and see where we need some variety or make some amendments. Sometimes it happens naturally without our need to intervene, other times we have to make the push to challenge ourselves.

To get me back on track, I’m pulling up an “old” meal plan template. I’m going to see if it can work with our current life or if I can at least start with it and modify it.

What are your goal and strategies when life happens? Any family-friendly meals you go to for weeknight survival?

I think for any of us it’s important to highlight the positive points that arise from a situation. No matter what we feel that we ‘failed’ at, there’s likely some pros to the situation even though all we may be focusing on are the cons. So while we only had pizza for dinner and I’m feeling down about not having a vegetable in this scenario, the homemade pizza that Lillian is making in these photos, was eaten by everyone. That’s an accomplishment- everyone eating the exact same thing! And that’s not it, Lillian practically made this entire pizza herself! You can see her rolling out the dough, sprinkling on the corn meal, spreading the sauce, and she topped it off with cheese. What an accomplishment for a 4 year old, not only helping make dinner to nourish the whole family, but doing it almost fully by herself and loving every minute of it! I hope this is what I remember most and not that it wasn’t completely nutritionally sound all the time.



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