Family Size

I have the privilege of living with one of my closest friends and her family. It’s mom, dad, big sister, not so little anymore brother and uncle Don. And because I live with a family I am afforded a rare look inside the life of a typical American family as they answer the age old question-What’s for dinner?

I’m guilty of having a lot ignorance around this issue because I’m a bachelor, but how families feed themselves is an issue that hits close to home for me. As a teacher an uncle, four times over, and an aspiring father I am inundated by adults working to balance  what the kids like to eat with what the parents want them to eat with what they can afford to eat. All of these factors converge upon each other to create a series of decisions that affect the social, emotional and physical health of our kids. So how is it done? How do you make dinner work in a world where everyone works 8 hour days?

To answer this question I turned to some of the most hard working mommas I know: Nancy and Janet. Both Nancy and Janet manage full time jobs, multiple kids, play dates, sporting events, extended family and their husbands. That’s not to say dad isn’t helping out. I have personally sampled Ignacio’s, Nancy’s husband,  famous chicken tacos, So it’s an all hands on deck situation.

Both Nancy and Janet says it helps having their parents or their partner’s parents near by.

“Yeah it’s nice to have our parents there to help out but sometimes they do give the kids things we rather they wouldn’t” Nancy tells me.

Janet echoed the same sentiments.

“I’m fortunate to have my mom and dad there because both me and my husband work. The only drawback is that I don’t cook because my parents have already done it.” Not a bad problem to have if you ask me.

Nonetheless these moms still have their tricks to making sure they retain control over the other aspects of their families eating habits

“We try to make sure that we have fresh food and veggies with every meal which does mean that we spend a lot of time going to the store.” Says Nancy. She goes on to explain the role of sugar in a home.

“We try to save candy as a reward for doing things like potty training but we rarely give the kids candy. We rarely eat fast food. We always try to make enough for dinner and leftovers instead of buying things like Lunchables.

So, sometimes when it comes to feeding a family the answer to what’s for dinner isn’t answered by us. Sometimes our most important nutritional choices are made not by us, but by the people closest to us. And it doesn’t have to be the gentle yet unyielding hand of Nana ushering yet another helping of Stroganoff onto our plates. The people we eat with influence not only what we eat but how much and how often. So what’s the solution? You can’t choose your family the age-old adage reminds us. However, we can choose what we do with them.  We can choose to bring them into our healthy eating habits. Who are we to assume grandma and grandpa are beyond substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream? Our families were there for us before quinoa was a thing. It’s time for us to be there for them now. After all,  if the price of a single avocado can hold at almost $3 for for an entire summer then we can hold the ones closest to us accountable for the things we eat. Remember, you are only one bite from the person you want to be.

To your continued success,

Don Gilbert


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