Empowered Nutrition Coaching ends with the habit “pay it forward” and the final lessons offer suggestions on how to do so. The lesson I liked most talked about planning a “Meal of Meaning.” A Meal of Meaning is a potluck where everyone brings a dish or beverage that is meaningful to them to share with the greater group. I have always loved hosting events and one of the things I learned this past year working with Kaitlyn is that I prefer an indulgence if there is something special about it. Excited to try this idea on my own, I hosted a Meal of Meaning last Friday night.
I knew that I wanted to host a Meal of Meaning, but it took me a while to determine what I would make as a main course if I did so. There are lots of great dishes from my family, but I don’t really know how to make them and a lot of the dishes I make regularly are good and healthy, but not particularly meaningful.
One night my mom and I were talking about our trip to Hawaii last year and I once again spoke about how being there and doing so much goal setting and reflection reset my soul. Then it hit me - my meal of meaning could be Hawaiian theme with fun decorations and a build your own poke bowl bar.
Poke itself happens to be a balanced meal. I purchased raw sushi-grade fish from Whole Foods and made Hawaiian BBQ chicken and beef for the protein options. I made a large batch of rice for the carbohydrate. I also cut up a variety of fruits and vegetables to use as toppings, which played the role of my favorite nutrition habit, eating colorful produce.
One of the most special meals for me is Shabbat dinner, the Jewish celebration of ending the week and resting, which takes place on a Friday night. Growing up I spent every Shabbat dinner with my extended family, in college I spent it with the local Jewish community on campus and now as an adult I fluctuate between Shabbats with my family, friends and community groups. With the amount of significance Shabbat holds for me I knew this would be when my Meal of Meaning took place.
There is a great nonprofit organization, OneTable, that provides Millenials with funds to host Shabbat dinners with their community and friends. With their help, I was able to host 12 of my friends for dinner last Friday night.
I was not the only person who found Shabbat meaningful. One of my friends, E, made a challah, which is a special egg bread Jews say a prayer over on Shabbat with their family. Her husband, A, also asked if he could do the honor of cutting the challah after we said the prayer.
A few of my guests brought bottles of wine and this is where one of the sweetest stories of the night came in. About six months ago at a community Shabbat a few friends and I met a guy, R, who had recently moved back to Denver after living in Chicago for a few years. It didn’t take long for R to become part of our friend group. R brought a bottle of wine from a winery he visited in Israel. As R explained the story behind his wine, he said it was not only special because of his trip, but also that a friend from Chicago gave the bottle to him as he was preparing to move and he wanted to share it with his new friends.
A few years ago my friends The Bs and I bought season tickets for CU Football games and often enjoyed a meal of appetizers before or after the game. I was pretty thrilled when they brought homemade spinach artichoke dip cups to the dinner because they love appetizers.
There were many tasty desserts that night. M brought a cookie cake to Meal of Meaning and for as long as I can remember she has brought cookie cakes to celebratory meals, so this was only fitting for our Meal of Meaning. My friend S has many happy memories going to Dairy Queen with his family as a kid, so he brought a Dairy Queen ice cream cake.
My year of Empowered Nutrition Coaching taught me that while food’s main purpose is fuel, it can be so much more than that. It can be a way of communication, affection, celebration and more. While all the different ways food is used can cause overeating, it can also be physically and spiritually satisfying and the Meal of Meaning showed how to enjoy food in a positive way.
I was a bit worried my friends would roll their eyes when I sent them the invite to my Meal of Meaning Shabbat, but was pleasantly surprised by everyone’s enthuisaism and participation. Last Friday ended up being a very special Shabbat I will remember for a long time. My friends and I not only enjoyed tasty food, but got to learn a little bit more about some of the people we are closest to.