A Balanced Diet: An Essay on Creating a Healthy Family Menu

I remember fondly the days when lifestyle changes were simple. You decided to change and that was that.
Now that we have families, there are conscientious objectors.

Every spring, I go on a little health kick. Around April, my family eats a lot of tofu and beans. Then, to my dismay, we go right back to our burgers and fries, but at least I feel like I’ve done my part in preparation for swimsuit season.

This year, I have been researching Macrobiotics, mostly because that’s what Christiane Northrup, author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom is into, and I agree with some of her other ideas.
I knew I was in for a battle as soon as I hit the library’s check-out counter.

The librarian shook her head. “You won’t ever be able to get your husband to eat that stuff,” she said, motioning to the macrobiotic health food on the book’s cover.

She doesn’t know my husband, but she might as well, because she’s right. My husband butters his frosted Pop Tarts. When we go to dinner at my in-laws, we each choose our own T-bones from the line of thick, red slabs displayed on the counter.

I, on the other hand, was a vegetarian when I met my dearly beloved. The first time I ate a hamburger in his presence was almost ceremonial. He had won me over to the meat-eating world. That’s when I knew he was the one: I would eat meat for no other man.

So, duly warned by the librarian’s skepticism, I set off to plan my approach. I would introduce him, first, only to ideas I knew he would agree with.

That night, over broiled chicken and green beans, I broached the subject. “The idea is that our bodies have evolved to digest and utilize the nutrients in foods when they are in their natural state,” I told him.

“Our bodies have not evolved in the presence of preservatives.”

He nodded. Now to ease into some of the more exotic (or, as he would say, “fruity”) aspects of the diet.

I explained the difference between yin and yang foods, citing a few examples. The idea, I said, is to create and maintain a healthy yin and yang balance.

“So meat is yang?” he asked


“And ice cream is yin.”


“So if I eat a big steak, I need two bowls of ice cream.”

“Not quite. The idea is to stay away from the extremes altogether."

“Forget it then.”

And that was that.
Like an ever increasing number of women, I believe in the holistic health approach—that true wellness is a synergy among the mind, body, and spirit. The therapies arising from such an approach range from acupressure to Yoga and are now used for relaxation, pain relief, stress management, and even the treatment of such diseases as cancer, AIDS, and heart disease.

So what’s a girl on a health kick to do?

The best approach, I’ve been told, is to keep the changes in the family’s diet gradual and slight. Take good care of yourself so that these objectors will witness your own positive health effects and want to
learn more about how they can experience it themselves.

Perhaps then they might start letting me experiment with new approaches that will affect them as well. Perhaps they will allow me to replace Tater Tots with couscous a few nights a week. Perhaps, if I spice it just right, they won’t object to the tempeh in our spaghetti sauce. 

But that doesn’t answer the question of what I’m going to do with all those tofu hot dogs in my fridge. All the ketchup, mustard, and relish in the world won’t make them taste like meat.