Can Fun be Part of Responsible Eating?

The short answer is…yes.  Food and nutrition are fun to talk about. We have cooking channels, infomercials spewing nutrition nuggets to entice us to buy gadgets and make our workouts better, we swap recipes with friends, and rave over favorite dishes at a friend’s house or restaurant.

It’s fun to talk about food and nutrition when we want to…but what happens when we HAVE to talk about it? Many of us have a loved one with a health condition or perhaps have one ourselves. And many of these health conditions require a new look at the choices we are making in food and activity.  As a dietitian, I’m here to tell you that it can still be fun, and we can accommodate your personal taste and unique needs. How? Through learning more about the food we thought we already knew. Here are three inspirational and actionable things you can start doing right now that can help make your meals better (and fun) again.

  1. Knowledge is power, so get more of it. From a reputable source, of course! I’ll never forget the store tour I did for diabetes education years ago. It was a smaller class, and two of the attendees were sisters, one newly diagnosed with diabetes and new to relearning about her food and how it impacted her body and blood sugar. After the two hour in store class, they were filling out their evaluation and whispering like crazy. We had a great class and conversation, so I said, ok, what are you two up to over there? Their answer? They told me they couldn’t believe how much fun they had in class.  My reaction: diabetes (and overall health) is a serious condition and we need to manage it and take care of ourselves. But we need to eat every day and grocery shop, so learn more because the more you know, the more fun (and less fear) you will have making confident, delicious food choices no matter your medical history or health goals. They came to class because  it was the responsible thing to do, taking a class taught by a certified diabetes educator/dietitian (me). They left feeling great because they knew more and yes, they had fun.
  1. Spend your time planning, not waiting or reacting. Think there’s no time to eat well or even think about better choices? Ever sat in the car in a drive through waiting for coffee or food, or in line or at a table ordering? Next time you do, time yourself. Then time yourself making a salad or sandwich, or putting together a casserole or stir fry. Spend your time in a way that supports what you say is important to you.
  1. Want something different? Do something different. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve already got. The saying goes something like that. The point is, if you keep eating the way you are and doing the activity (or lack thereof) you do, your body and choices will pretty much continue to be what they are. If you want a different health outcome, shake things up.

What are you going to do differently today? Start small. Because small steps can add up to big changes.