Sunday Night dinner was a big deal in my house growing up.

Every Sunday afternoon Mother made either a roast beef or a roast chicken. If beef we’d have mashed potatoes and Yorkshire Puddings….lots of gravy. And if chicken there would be potatoes or rice or even sometimes a pasta dish. We always had dessert after every meal but on Sunday’s it would be a pie or even a cake from Tim Horton’s (that cream filling…).

Growing up, I always thought it was about the food. I didn’t think too much beyond it being just another meal. Now that I am an adult and have a family what I remember most about those Sunday dinners are not the fluffy potatoes and river of gravy. I think about shopping for the meal with my Mom and Sister on Friday nights when we shopped for groceries for the week. I remember her carefully considering the roasts or chickens. Picking one that fit the budget and would yield at least one night’s worth of leftovers if not more. I remember the warmth of the house while the oven was slowly roasting our dinner all afternoon. The smell of the roast drifting upstairs as my sister and I did whatever it is that kids did on Sunday afternoons in the 80’s (we didn’t even have cable how did we survive?) . In my minds eye I can see my Dad peeling the potatoes at the counter and I hear my mother pulling the roast pans from the cabinet.

That’s what I crave. I literally crave that and would love to travel back in time and just be a kid waiting for dinner again. It’s time I’m after. I want those moments back. The one where my Dad would carefully size up all the rolls to get the one he wanted first. The giggles my sister and I shared as we watched the bubbles in our drinks rise up and push the straws out. Those are the memories I have about those dinners. It’s not the food I miss. I miss my family.

Now I have a family of my own. We are small and my husband is often serving our country or working his civilian job, so many Sunday’s it’s just my daughter and I. A couple months ago I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I’d made a “nice” Sunday dinner. I cook most nights, eat the leftovers the others, but they are simple meals. Quickly grilled fish, steamed veggies. Sheet pan meals. Things I can start and finish within 30 min. Sure we eat at the table, but there’s no ceremony to it. It’s just another night. So I started making a bigger effort.

I went out to the dollar store and bought new placemats and a proper napkin holder and started letting my daughter pick out a five dollar bouquet of flowers at the grocery store when we shop on Saturday afternoons. Then I made a commitment that no matter what was on the menu, Sunday Night dinner was going to be a big deal. We’d all help make it, set the table and then eat it together. No TV. No phones. Just a family eating together.

In short…I want to feed my family memories, not just food.

When I was obese I twisted EVERYTHING to be about the food, from picking one gas station over another based on what kind of pop they sold to asking if a meeting would have lunch catered before I accepted the invite. Special occasions weren’t about celebrating Easter or having a girl’s night out with my friends, it was about what kind of dip to make and how many bags of chips we’d need. I spent more time thinking about kind of restaurant we would start the night with than thinking about the laughs we’d be sure to share.

So one of my latest goals is to create a new reality for myself. One where I celebrate getting together with my friends. One where I sit and eat chicken but listen to my daughter telling me about the game her and her best friend made up at recess. I would like to challenge all of you to do the same.

We talk a lot in our Facebook support groups about shifting our thinking about food. It’s more than just picking zucchini that’s been cut like spaghetti instead of angel hair pasta. It’s more than making sure you drink 8 cups of water. We have to change the way we view the act of eating. We have to change the reason we spend time with family. We have to pick memories over recipes.

I’m adding a photo of my table, because I want to stress that you don’t have to have fancy things to do this. You just need a spot to gather and eat. I got this stuff at the dollar store. Placemats I can wipe off instead of adding to my laundry and paper napkins because I really don’t need the extra laundry. You can see that my table is small. It’s scratched and well worn. There’s a chair missing. I don’t care that it’s not fancy as I suspect that when I am 90 and reflecting about my family I’ll remember the way my daughter smiled at me from across the table. I hope that she will have memories of helping me by setting that table.

Family Dinner Table

And if you are curious here’s what will later be served on our table. It was my five year old’s turn to choose supper, that’s also part of my Sunday Dinners, we take turns picking out the menu: Grilled Hamburgers, on a plate without buns, with lettuce, pickles and cheese. I’ll likely add a tomato slice to mine and have cucumber slices and carrots as a salad with “orange” dressing (I think she means French, lol) and bacon bits.

Sugar Free Chocolate Pie (forgot the cool whip, oh well)

Take some time today to come up with ideas for shifting your focus from food….and towards making some memories.

~~Suzi Shaw, Lead Admin for Facebook Support Groups:  Bariatric Eating 101, Bariatric Eating Support & No More Bariatric Regain

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