When I first arrived at Suppers it was fear that drove me. There is way too much breast cancer in my family, and I’m at an age where I’d be foolish not to pay attention to my diet and lifestyle.

I am no newcomer to eating healthy whole foods: I’ve known what to eat for years. My problem was not lack of good information but lack of the wherewithal to do what I know is best for me. Even fear hasn’t been enough to make me stay on the right path consistently.

When I got to Suppers, I wasn’t so much looking for information as for support. The Suppers form of sponsorship is called therapeutic friendship. It means we step in and help each other with whatever kind of support is needed: phone calls, walking partners, cooking dates, etc. I needed help staying on track to buy only good food and keep it on hand and ready to grab. To reinforce how important it is not to let ourselves get too hungry, we often cook extra food at meetings and bring jars so we can take some home.

Stress is a familiar companion for me. I have a busy practice. I’m also on the run keeping up with the schedule of an active teenage son. And I have problems with blood sugar and am already pre-diabetic. So I can rely on crashes happening if I’m not right on top of eating regularly and making good choices. But good choices are hard to make when inconvenience, time pressures, and carbohydrate cravings combine to sabotage my best intentions. One day, sensing a crash would come over me if I didn’t eat, I yanked open the fridge door looking for a fast solution. And there, facing me, was Dor in my fridge.

Dor is the leader of my Suppers group – the Suppers founder, in fact – and she offered her therapeutic friendship to help me establish new habits. She’d sent me home with a few jars of chili and soup from the last meeting. Well, wouldn’t you know, sometimes things work exactly as they’re supposed to work. When I opened the fridge, there was a delicious, protein-rich chili in a jar from Dor’s kitchen. My “fast food” was healthy food. There would be no automatic choices today. I was sticking to the plan. I said a five-second prayer of gratitude and downed the chili before dashing off to the next appointment.

There are far too many social pressures, too many soccer games to race to, too many clients in need of my services, a husband who deserves my time, and too many internal impulses for me to get this right without lots of support. Obviously, slowing down has to be part of the long-term plan. But for now I need regular meetings, likeminded friends, and the right food in the fridge to manage this busy life without crashing.

When I reported to my Suppers friends how their support was helping me lead a healthier life, they asked me to make a list of “must haves.” Here is my list of things I must always have on hand because Dor won’t always be in my fridge.

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