A bit of balance

The other night, I looked down at my dinner plate and was a little startled.

I had some nicely seasoned baked fish, couscous and snow peas. There may have been a roll on the side. And I was washing it down with a tall glass of water.

I know. That's a pretty healthy dinner. And the most shocking thing about it? It was just one in a string of decent, homemade dinners recently.

It occurred to me that having a kid around -- especially now that she's well into the "eat what the grownups eat" stage -- has made me a healthier eater. I don't want to feed her junk, and I sure as heck don't want to make more than one dinner, so I plan her meals with good nutrition and balance in mind, and, by default, that's what I end up with, too.

It's not that my previous habits were so bad. But before Nora came along, I worked an evening shift, so I often skipped lunch altogether (just too soon after breakfast), and dinner was frequently a microwave dinner at my desk. Ew.

Lunch is certainly not skippable anymore -- if I have to sit there and watch a toddler eat, I might as well be eating, too. And cooking dinner after my husband gets home from work gives me a nice break from kid duties and some time to let them bond while I cook and listen to NPR (while actually being able to hear a story through from beginning to end!) or some music. I'm no gourmet chef, but I've built up a repertoire of solid dishes I can make without setting off the smoke alarm. And I'm even getting brave enough to try new recipes, though never without a frozen pizza on hand, just in case.

Don't get me wrong: we still hit the drive-through every now and then, and I've shoved [amount redacted] Oreos into my face while writing this. So we shouldn't be mistaken for health nuts. Not ever.

But it's nice to feel like we're doing something right, for all of us. All it took was a tiny little dining companion to trick us into it.