The Missing Ingredient in Healthy Eating

Many things inspire posts on The Chameleon’s Backbone.  This post was inspired by a bowl of fish stew…

There are many websites and blogs about food and healthy eating.  Most of them cover similar topics… 

  • Recipes
  • Healthy ingredient substitutions 
  • Portion sizes
  • Proper fueling after exercise 
  • Emotional relationships with food
  • Individual food idiosyncrasies, like vegetarianism.

Promoting healthy eating is a very honorable and important mission.  Diet-related disease affects many people in this country, especially youth.  I see many blog posts about what to eat, but few posts about how to eat.  

When I see a blog-posted photo of a fabulous plate of food, I often wonder where the meal was eaten, if it was slowly savored or wolfed down, and who shared in the meal.  I rarely see this information posted.  So I ask, why not? 

Take my dinner last night.  It was soooo good that my first inclination was to post a photo of my plate on this blog.  I hesitated because 1) this isn’t a food blog; and 2) the reason my dinner was super good wasn’t because it looked delicious. 

Cut to yesterday evening…

Eating alone is no fun,” Grandma said, as she sat at the kitchen table and chopped vegetables for the family dinner.  I love cooking with her, partly because Grandma is the best chopper in the whole wide world.  I’ve never seen anyone else chop celery by hand in perfectly even, tiny pieces.  With all of the fancy kitchen gadgets available, how many of us chop the old-fashioned way – with an actual knife

For a perfect chop, Grandma’s secret is to slice one end of the celery stalk into thin vertical strips… 

It should look like this…

Then, slice the vertically sliced end of the stalk horizontally, like this…



Ta-da!  Perfectly sized tiny little pieces…

She does the same hand-chopping magic with other veggies too.

When the cooking was done, my family shared a wonderful pot of stew.  As we ate, we sat around the family table catching up on each others’ lives.  We didn’t fill our bowls and sit in silence in front of the TV.  We didn’t divide out portions into plastic containers and head our separate ways.  We didn’t measure out servings based on calorie counts.  We didn’t stuff ourselves while others at the table went hungry.  And we certainly didn’t skip the meal and eat grapefruits instead. 


I think that one of the essential missing ingredients in healthy eating today is good old-fashioned togetherness and the traditional family dinner.  When meals are shared from a common plate, there is a thankfulness and joy that surrounds the table.  Food is passed with gratitude.  It is consumed more slowly.  Portion size becomes a natural tendency of sharing.  Unhealthy habits are harder to disguise.

I agree with Grandma.  Eating alone is no fun.  I challenge you to think more seriously about the value of sharing the table – with family, with friends, with people you care about and who care about you.  Then, look around that table.  Notice how the meal is nourishing health, happiness, and strength.  Food is something to celebrate and share.  Not to fear and control. 

Grandma, have you ever gone on a diet?”  “Nahhh,” she said “your grandfather always liked me just the way I was.”  And with that, she finished her last bite of stew and reminded me about the home-made apple pie she baked for dessert.


Do you think that sharing meals with family and friends can improve the concept of Healthy Eating?


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Renee on October 25, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Amen! Family togetherness for meals is a MUST!!!


  2. That is a really good point that I should think about more when posting photos of food. I suspect that how we eat has a heck of a lot more bearing on our health than we ever imagined. Great post!


  3. ABSOLUTELY! Being attached to your food, where it comes from, how to prepare it, what it can do for our bodies, and sharing it with those we love most is essential to healthy eating. If we see food and having a meal as something that must be gotten out of the way, a nuisance, or a perfunctory act in any way it is natural to not care what we consume. But if preparing food and eating is an event shared with others it becomes more than fuel.
    Love this post!


  4. Gramma’s got skills! And I think she’s onto something with that comment. Love the wisdom of Grammas. Love this post.


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