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THE POWER OF FAMILY DINNER WHETHER IT’S GRILLING SEASON OR NOT
“I don’t think there’s one thing more important you can do for your kids than have family dinner.”
–Ruth Reichl, author and former New York Times food critic
Memorial Day officially kicks off grilling season, but there’s not a month that goes by when we don’t fire up the grill at our house. Even in the depths of the Michigan winter, when we have to shovel a path from the house to the grill, you can find me out there flipping steaks, pork chops, and the like. I’m not a world-class chef by any means, but I like to think I’ve become pretty good with a pair of tongs in my hand. Part of the reason you can find me firing up the grill no matter the weather is because I’ve eaten a pretty strict paleo diet for the past decade. For those of you who don’t know, a paleo diet attempts to replicate the meal plan of our prehistoric ancestors. It’s heavy on meat, nuts, fruits, and vegetables while shunning processed foods, dairy, and grains. Originally, I was drawn to the diet because it still allowed me to enjoy a juicy steak. Once I adopted the diet, however, I realized it worked for me. Adhering
to a 100-percent paleo diet, I lost 50 pounds in a year. These days, I eat paleo about 80 percent of the time, sneaking in some bread and cheese on rare occasions. While I adopted the diet before Rochelle and I had kids, I enjoy sharing a healthy lifestyle with my family. A lot of people find it difficult to forgo the convenience of modern fast food for the pleasures of a home-cooked meal, but I’ll tell you it’s even harder to switch back. Rochelle and I shop around the perimeter of the grocery store, steering clear of the items in the middle with ingredient lists longer than a legal brief. She’s a better chef than I am, but we trade cooking duties. When one of us is busy working out, the other is preparing dinner. Delicious, healthy food is just one benefit of eating at home. Our dinner table is a place of conversation where we can simply get together as a family and talk. We like to start our meals off with each family member sharing their “positive focus” for the day. This doesn’t have to be anything huge, just something that
made them smile or feel good. Beginning our meal with a positive focus raises everyone’s spirits and is often the starting point of a lively discussion. Having these daily conversations over a warm meal has created an environment where open communication is encouraged. When I speak with clients, I often discover that they’ve never brought up elder-care or estate concerns with their families. These aren’t subjects that come up regularly at the dinner table, but I firmly believe that having a regular dialogue with your loved ones makes it easier to address these sensitive topics. Making the effort to begin these conversations early will make a big difference. Clearly expressed wishes allow your loved ones to ensure you get the care you want and leave a legacy on your own terms. Who knows? Maybe a freshly grilled (and well-rested) steak is just the thing to begin the discussion. – Christopher J. Berry
Delicious, healthy food is just one benefit of eating at home. Our dinner table is a place of conversation where we can simply get together as a family and talk.
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