The Doctor Visit
My son had been having headaches for weeks. When we finally got a diagnosis, we were all caught by surprise. Could he really have high blood pressure at such a young age? Fortunately, the medicines prescribed helped his blood pressure return to an acceptable range. Despite the quick relief from symptoms, we were concerned about him taking daily medication with no end in sight. After a few discussions and some brief research, we felt motivated to try to make positive gains through lifestyle changes if possible. The doctor gave us information about diet changes that have been shown to help improve blood pressure. As motivating as this information was, cutting back on fat, salt and meat consumption added another level of complexity to our already busy family life. We decided to set goals to help us make the changes the doctor described. We’d cut back meat consumption to two dinners per week. Lunches would be prepared and stored in advance to decrease the temptation of grabbing fast food in the middle of the day. Processed snacks would be replaced with fresh fruits, vegetables or nuts kept in snack sized containers. As a mother, the responsibility of buying food and preparing meals and snacks to meet these goals fell mainly on me.
The First Week
I made it through the first week by tweaking my go to recipes and googling a few others. By the second week I was running out of ideas and feeling a bit frazzled. I had previously reached a point where meal planning and prep was almost automatic. I knew what to buy from the store, how long it would take to prepare and what everyone would eat without thinking about it. New diet goals changed this. How could I quickly learn a new repertoire of tasty meals that met these new guidelines and also passed the taste test of two picky kids and my husband? By the end of the first week, I was exhausted.
Moving Toward Vegetarian Meal Planning
I confided with a friend about my frustrations. She told me about a meal planning service she had been using. The service gave her a monthly menu of healthy meal plans to choose from. She selected the choices that seemed to fit her family’s needs. Information about what to buy, how to prepare it and basic nutritional information was then ready at her finger tips. She told me it saved her tons of time and she felt good about having new healthy options to add to her daily favorites. I had been thinking for some time about moving to a vegetarian diet for myself for a combination of health and environmental reasons. Increased vegetable intake for my family seemed to fit my personal interests as well as the health goals for my son so I selected a plan with vegetarian options. Although we still eat meat a couple times a week, having a variety of vegetarian meal plans has helped us to cut back meat consumption while still having healthy, tasty and interesting options on our plates.