Is a healthy birthday meal too much to ask for? 

Published 10:36 am Monday, July 11, 2022

Dear Aunty Pam


My birthday is coming up and every year I do a family dinner with my parents, husband, siblings and their kids. It’s a nice family get-together and my mom insists on cooking a homemade meal.

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The problem is that my mother’s version of a homemade meal is ‘instant mashed potatoes,’ boxed mac n cheese, and microwaved Salisbury steak. She has never been a cook, and has always bought food that can be heated or nuked.


When I was a kid, I didn’t mind eating that way and I suspect it’s what led to me being overweight with a few health issues. I tried to hint that I’m trying to eat healthier and lose weight but she just laughs and says, ‘Come on, you can treat yourself one day a year,’ and ‘This has always been your favorite meal!’


Can you help? I’m seriously considering saying I’ve got Covid, or flu, to get out of it!


Depressed Daughter


Dear DD,


How did I live this long without realizing microwaved Salisbury steak is a festive treat?! You have my deepest sympathies, and it could be worse— remember TV dinners? The steaks that could be used to re-heel your shoe and the cherry crumble that was as hot as lava, sticking to the roof of your mouth? Weeeee doggies!


The issue here, of course, is that Mom isn’t listening. Willfully not hearing you. As this has been going on for—decades?—I’m going to guess she’s not going to change. Normally, Aunty Pam would say for the sake of familial peace, to show up and give your steak to the dog under the table, but the fact is we’re talking about your health and so I’m going to advise that you give your mother a call and press your case. Don’t cave. In fact, maybe suggest a potluck—that way you can bring what you want to eat, and perhaps the others will bring edible offerings as well.


Just don’t be surprised if your mom presents you with a birthday cake made of stacked Krispy Kremes.


Cheers, dear!

Aunty Pam