On Saturday night we celebrated my mother in laws birthday at our aunts house. It was a small dinner-just the family- coupled with some nice jazz music in the background, wine, and good laughs. It was a nice night. But there was something different about that night than similar dinners we’ve had in the past…what we ate. A few years ago we would have had exactly the same celebration and the menu would have likely been “arroz imperial” (chicken with yellow rice, ham, and cheese) or some other meal that included rice, bread, fried foods but not likely to have any good vegetables. Last night we had a perfectly cooked rib eye steak, salmon, baked pieces of sweet potatoes and asparagus. The meal was absolutely delicious. What I found wonderful was that at the end of the night, everyone was satisfied. No one was overly full or unbuttoning their jeans. Those who wanted Dessert weren’t trying to make space in their bellies. It was a light, pleasant, and tasty meal.
It got me thinking about why the menu changed. It’s been happening subtly over the years. It used to be that my cousin was always eating on a somewhat strict regimen and she would come to our parties but would bring her own food or eat only certain things. Then I started to eat healthy so I would eat the ground turkey but skip on the rice and bread. Orlando joined in a few months later and would offer suggestions like, hey could we make a side salad for Caro and I? It was mostly the younger generation of our family that was becoming more aware and more involved in the food choices. Just like anything the atmosphere started becoming contagious. Our aunt and uncle who are the most gracious hosts started making sure that we had salads and vegetables available to eat… And they began enjoying them also. The gradual change led us to this Saturday night dinner. What was wonderful was that there was no sacrifice involved. No one was turning away the white rice because it wasn’t offered. The sweet potato was not coated with brown sugar just light salt and pepper. The salmon and steak were cooked to perfection, not to mention the roasted asparagus. And at the end of the meal those who wished to have dessert (apple pie with vanilla ice cream) did so knowing it was Saturday night and the only cheat of the evening. 😉 I chose my piece of dark chocolate not because I had to but because it was what I was in the mood for. It felt good to be in an environment where I wasn’t being looked at as if I were on a diet, or as my way of eating was “special”.
Actually it was quite the contrary.
This made me think… Why shouldn’t eating healthy be the norm? Why is it such a big deal in the first place?
Isn’t it wonderful to eat in good company… Well wouldn’t it be even more wonderful to eat healthy, delicious, food in good company??
The next time you host a dinner party or are invited to bring a dish to a dinner party, maybe you can start that subtle trend. Maybe you can introduce a healthy option that blows people away. Little by little we can spread the word and create a community of nice music, good laughs and healthy food- what a wonderful world it will be. 🙂