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Exploring ‘Meals that Heal’ for Enhanced Physical, Mental, & Social Well-being
‘Meals that heal’ are a way to reduce isolation and bring an increased focus to physical, mental, and social health. We all have a relationship with the many elements within our food systems: the foods themselves, restaurants (fast food, special occasion), grocery stores, farmers markets, community gardens, etc. Each of these elements have their opportunities and limitations to what it can provide. There can also be a layer of suffering and/or internal critique – “I should have eaten better,” “I gained weight,” “I feel not well physically.” Let’s explore ways to bridge our eating and food systems to help maintain healthful, happy mealtimes.
Mindless eating – or unintentional eating – is common in our fast-paced society. If eating time could include more intention and planning, it has the potential to be even more nourishing. This isn’t just about the foods and drinks themselves, it’s our relationship to the food/drink as well as our surroundings and environment. Eating to ‘get it over with’ (mindless eating, eating in the car) is the opposite of a meal that heals.
Meals that Heal – In Practice
A meal that heals is to have quality time with people during meal time. This is an opportunity for quality connections, communication, reflection, and compliments…but don’t expect this level of togetherness and connectivity to happen at every meal. Some ideas for starting small could include: changing a meal structure once per week; bringing fast food you’d normally eat in the car inside to eat and share with others; eat delivered food together instead of in separate rooms or in front of the TV or screen.
Again, it’s not reasonable or realistic to expect to shop, cook, and prepare every meal together or in a group. We all need recipes like chicken salsa verde – something that is super easy, 4 ingredients, one pound of chicken, 2 cans black beans, red bell pepper, one jar of salsa verde and is a meal on its own. Bonus – these leftovers become the equivalent to picking fast food up on the way home because all you have to do is heat it up. Need to use paper plates tonight? All good – no shame here!
Sharing a meal is an opportunity for conversation about your needs for healthy meals. If you find out your host is making a heavy or celebratory main dish, offer to bring a healthier side like roasted vegetables or a salad. This may feel uncomfortable at first but it gets easier with time and repetition.
There’s a difference between regular, everyday food and celebratory food. Say you’d like to bring lasagna to a potluck – a celebratory lasagna could have multiple meats, multiple cheeses, and 3 layers of fresh noodles, whereas an everyday lasagna could have layers of vegetables, 1 layer of cheese (and/or soft tofu seasoned with pesto as a ricotta replacement), and 1-2 layers of noodles or zoodles. These shifts make a big difference in price and calories! Bring what you need to feel your best about the meal!
Reflecting & Takeaways
We all need to eat – if we opted back into eating together and in community, this could be impactful for many. Togetherness at meal time increases connection and could make eating time more nourishing and pleasurable.
To learn about creating your own simple, healthy meal planning system and getting support to meet your health goals, schedule a free one-on-one Nutrition for Wellness Strategy Session with me!
To receive meal planning tips, recipe ideas, and to learn about meal planning events, join my email list.
With a Barrel of Love, Alicia
By Alicia Connor, MA / Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Chef
Links to Alicia Connor’s Socials
- Quick & Delish on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/QuickDelishbyAliciaConnor
- Quick & Delish on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quick_delish/?hl=en
- Quick & Delish on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aliciaconnorrd/
- Join Alicia Connor’s email list: quickanddelish.ck.page/cheers-to-your-health
- Sign up for Alicia Connor’s Virtual Meal Planning Series: https://www.quickanddelish.net/workshop
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Alicia Connor is a registered dietitian nutritionist and chef who is passionate about encouraging lifestyle shifts with a focus on meal planning and simplifying healthy eating. Alicia built a career as a chef, including working at a top San Francisco restaurant. As a young adult facing hereditary vision loss, she took control and pivoted to another career as a dietitian to grow roots deeper than ‘just cooking.’ She has seen the impact of meal planning and nutrition in her clients over the years, often through their increased energy, empowered weight loss journeys, and freedom to pursue more of their passions due to increased confidence.
Moving away from the mindset of dieting, Alicia helps clients build a toolkit of strategies to reduce stress and increase peace of mind. She supports her clients through one-on-one sessions and a virtual meal planning program to build helpful habits and create actionable plans to meet their goals.
‘Quick & Delish by Alicia Connor’ is a video cooking series on YouTube where Alicia presents easy recipes with minimal steps for flavorful, balanced meals.
- Header: Two multicultural families enjoying a meal at home together.
- Closeup of healthy meals enjoyed by friends.
- Family having a meal together.
- Closeup of people serving themselves with canapes in a buffet of a restaurant.
- A group of mature friends are sitting around an outdoor dining table eathing a Mediterranean meal.
- Author photo: Alicia Connor a pretty brunette with dark wavy shoulder-length hair wearing a denim jacket as she leans on a kitchen counter with assorted veggies in front of her.