Happiness and Health with the “Spirited Table Eat 60 Plan”

by Christina Meyer-Jax, Tastemaker in Residence

Is there a secret sauce to happiness and health that can be achieved in 60 minutes a week? What if the research outcomes proved that by doing this one thing 60 minutes a week you could enjoy: a boost in family bonding, increased conversation and academic performance, families eating more veggies and fruits, decreased risk of child obesity that lasts into adulthood, money savings, decreased risk of mental health issues, higher childhood self-esteem and resilience…just to name a few.

What is the secret sauce? It’s committing to sharing a meal/eating experience at least 60 minutes per week as a family! Yup it’s that simple with so much reward! BOOST the brain, the spirit and nourish your body!

My colleague Dana (Pierce) Ketter (personal trainer pursuing a Masters in Nutrition) worked with me to develop a straight forward plan that supports families in eating together at least 60 minutes per week. This is similar to the “Fuel Up to Play 60 program” that encourages at least 60 minutes of activity and healthy eating.

Plan ahead, plan together and plan on it!
Time is of the essence and the biggest “can’t-do” factor when it comes to making this commitment. But as a working mother of 2 student athletes, I know a little planning can make it happen!

Christina’s Family Commitment: Plan at least 2 dinners per week together and at least 2 other meals/snacks together. Scout the calendar on Sunday and schedule in the family meal times for the week ahead based on work, sports, or other activities. Don’t get hung up that it always has to be dinner that you eat together. That can make it seem impossible to achieve. It’s just about committing to a time to share in food together. This can be as simple as sharing a healthy after-sports bedtime snack.

Dana grew up in a house where they were able to commit to dinners together 4 nights per week, even with working parents and active kid’s schedules. Evaluate how you can realistically achieve 60 minutes a week and go from there.

“The Spirited Table Eat 60” Basic Game Plan Ideas: Pick 3+  that can work for your family to help you achieve the goal of sharing food together

In Dana’s family growing up they worked on the following system:

  • Saturday was its own meal; leftovers usually a lunch-extra.
  • Sunday meal repeated on Wednesday (usually a roast or special meal)
  • Monday & Thursday had the same meal 
  • Tuesday and Friday had the same meal
  1. Extra veggies often prepared day-of (easy to sauté, steam or even microwave)
  2. Salad almost every night (buy pre-cut lettuce and fixings…hold the dressing!)
  3. Alternate between pre-prepared meals during the week so you don’t get bored and increase diversity of nourishment AND satisfy a variety of pallets!

The ideas to make family food times meaningful and nourishing are endless. It’s really just a matter of planning the week ahead and focusing on what you can make work. I am always on the hunt for new ideas.  What are some of your favorite strategies? And what are the benefits you have seen in your family?

Acknowledgement: A big thanks to Dana Ketter for her contributions to this piece! Dana is a passionate Personal Trainer, former Architect, Professional National Anthem singer and pursuing a masters in Nutrition and Dietetics. Dana’s personal training exploits have been featured in the Minneapolis – St. Paul Magazine and has given nutrition related talks on WCCO radio. She has sung the National Anthem on 50 plus occasions for various NBA, MLB, MLS teams.