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From our newest contributor, Amy Caputa.  Welcome, Amy!

Eating on the Run is so 2009…

I had every intention of writing an informative article on what to eat on the run, knowing that every parent lives an unbelievably busy life that doesn’t always allow time for sit-down meals. However…I just finished reading “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual,” by Michael Pollan (author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”), and, first of all, I’m annoyed that he wrote the book that I was planning to write(!), but more importantly, I’m glad that it has been written.  The book contains 64 straight-forward rules about what and how to eat.  The rule that threw a wrench in my original article idea is Rule #58: “Do all your eating at a table.”  Now, since I wholeheartedly support the majority of the rules in the book, including #58, I wouldn’t be true to myself–and I’d be doing a disservice to you—if I wrote an article about what to eat on the run. One certainly cannot be on the run while sitting at a table, right?  Frankly, I’m a little tired of this wired, super-connected, 24/7 race to nowhere that we’re all in and I don’t want to propagate suggestions for staying in a race that seems to put family life in second place.  Life is too short. Balance is critical.

Changing our eating habits isn’t easy and won’t happen overnight, especially when fast and convenient foods (or, “edible foodlike substances,” as Pollan calls processed food) can be found on every corner.  But, if we put in a little extra time and effort our families will be happier and healthier in the long run.  Here are a few ideas for preparing dinners (that could also be eaten as leftovers for lunch the next day):

  • Spend a few hours on Sunday cooking and freezing meals for the rest of the week.
  • If your kids are old enough to help in the kitchen, recruit them as sous chefs. Dinner will be prepared in half the time and you’ll have a blast together in the kitchen.
  • Start a casserole club and exchange meals with a few other families on a weekly basis.
  • Make the small investment in a crock pot and toss the ingredients for a hearty stew in the pot in the morning and come home to a hot, wholesome dinner in the evening.

These are just four of a multitude of ways to provide home-cooked meals for your family and then still have the time to sit down at your dining room table and eat the meal together.  The meals will take some planning for sure, but your family is worth it! Research shows that eating meals as a family is beneficial for children and parents alike.  When else between school, work, soccer, yoga, etc., can you talk one-on-one with each other?  Your kids really do want to talk with you about things–important things like homework, bullies, or boyfriends/girlfriends, or trivial things like American Idol, the Jonas Brothers, or their latest Wii victory–and I’m sure you want to hear what they have to say, regardless of what subject they’re talking about.

A frightening side-effect of our desire to eat on the run is childhood obesity. By now you’ve heard that childhood obesity is on the rise and with that diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the risk of early stroke and heart disease.  First Lady Michelle Obama has recently stated that childhood obesity “truly is a crisis” and she’s launching an initiative to fight it. Help take part in that fight in your own home by preparing your family healthy meals and then eating them together.  Show your children what healthy food is, how to prepare it, and how to enjoy eating it. None of us want to outlive our children.

Let’s take a cue from the Europeans and those in the slow food movement who make a point of enjoying leisurely meals: eat well, eat slowly, have a glass of red wine, enjoy the food and, above all, your company.

If you want to learn more about the slow food movement check out these websites:

http://www.slowfoodboston.com/

http://www.oldwayspt.org/

And if you want to check out some amazing vegetarian recipes, visit one of my favorite sites:

http://www.101cookbooks.com

Amy Caputa

Amy was born and raised on the shoreline in Branford, Connecticut. She relocated to Massachusetts in February 2004 to be with her fiancé, Peter Caputa IV.  After working for many years as a project manager at a scholarly publishing company, Amy had a desire to change careers and began looking for a way to turn her passion for health and wellness into her life’s work. Fortunately, she found the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, affiliated with Columbia University, in New York City, and graduated from the Institute in June 2007 as a Holistic Heath Counselor. In September 2007, Peter Caputa V (yes, the fifth) was born–in the good old-fashioned drugless way–thanks to Jeanette and her Natural Childbirth class at MoCo! Amy left her position at the publishing company in August 2009 to become a stay-at-home mom and build her health counseling practice.  She is excited to share with people how to be healthier and happier by nourishing their bodies and minds with wholesome food and plenty of self care. She is currently accepting clients and can be reached at amy.caputa@gmail.com. She can also be found posting wellness tweets on Twitter as “purewellnessamy.”

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