Guest Blog – Avoid the Trap of Isolated Eating

In this the second guest blog post from the lovely guys at New You – Nutrition, Exercise and Weight Management, they look at a common issue that is evident at many dinner tables, isolated eating. If you missed their first guest blog post about family fitness, you can check it out here.


The idea of sitting round the dinner table with one family member eating a different meal as the others is one that baffles me, many of us will have visions of our mothers lamenting that they’re ‘on a diet’ whilst tucking into three leaves of lettuce, two cherry tomatoes and half a slice of ham. I can also recollect the same person then becoming frustrated and wolfing down four chocolate digestives for desert. I sensed those feelings of isolation and envy being stirred first hand when dieting for boxing; comparing my bland plate to the rest of my families would nearly push me over the edge!

Going back to the Middle Ages dinner was placed of high importance; an extravagant exhibit of cuisine where people helped themselves to any amount of animal products (don’t think there was a vegan option in those times). In similar fashion nowadays, the dinner table should be a social hotspot in the house where families can debate, discuss and bond during the largest meal of the day.  In the fast and furious society we now live in the dinner table is that one peaceful sanctuary where we can unwind and welcome the anecdotes of tiresome tots or agitated adolescents.

However part of the social connection is lost if two, three or even four different meals are being prepared with people finishing at various times, and why bother? We should always be able to have the same meals as our loved ones, especially at dinner time!

Our evening din-dins is usually the meal that we have the most time to prepare; therefore gives us a fantastic opportunity to make a wholesome, healthy and dare I say TASTY meal for all the family to enjoy. If you were to prepare a great meal such as baked potatoes, green veg and Bolognese using lean mince, spices and canned tomatoes, there is absolutely no reason you can’t tuck into that, granted you don’t give yourself a serving fit for a king. Similarly a colourful (which is important in itself) chicken stir fry full of peppers and green veg is a fantastic way of increasing your fibre and protein content for the day with the added benefit of being effortless to make and delicious. Yet another benefit of everyone consuming the same meal is that if you are conscious of the nutrient content of the meal then your family will also be eating ‘healthily’, I can remember as a child my mother eating a salad while the rest of us had burgers and oven chips which simply didn’t make sense.

What about the mum or dad tearing their hair at home having to prepare for vegans and vegetarians? Three quarters of the family rip and tear through carnivorous feasts while your son or daughter looks on helplessly. But what if you were to support their endeavour? The by gone days of vegetarian meals turning knots in meat eater’s stomachs has long since passed with the emergence of chickpea salads, vegetable stir fry, and five bean chilli, going one or two days a week ‘meat free’ will not kill your family and may actually improve upon their health. Why not jump on the new bandwagon of ‘Meat Free Monday?’ the vegetarian in your house will be eternally grateful for the understanding you are showing for their noble journey.

The idea that children pick up traits from their parents rings true for the dinner table, many of the bad habits and behaviours towards food we have as adults have in fact stemmed from our childhood without us ever realising it. Setting the example of eating separate meals and demonizing certain foods is a recipe for disaster for your children in the future; try to instil the idea of moderation and developing tastes for a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. The next generation must have a better understanding of food than we do; both from a nutritional and taste standpoint, so practicing what you preach works best.

The goals of family members may be different, some may be looking to lose weight, some to maintain and for kids getting the right amount of nutrients is the ultimate goal, however most meals can be tweaked and tailored slightly using different serving sizes and ingredients etc. to hit most goals, therefore don’t be that person left out in the cold eating that extreme reduced carb salad! Enjoy your food and the opportunity it gives to get close to your loved ones, just keep in mind your end goal and how this meal fits into that.

New You - James McDowell Fitness Series

For more info on this or any other questions on nutrition, fitness or overall well-being send us an email on or visit our Facebook page; ‘New You – Nutrition, Exercise and Weight Management’.

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