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Distracted Dining: Distracted by a kitchen renovation

In this DD, Nancy sets out some creative ideas and useful tips for that big kitchen renovation

If you want to gain weight quick and eat a variety of who knows what’s in it - do a kitchen renovation. The family’s normally well-balanced diet will be thrown out the window. It’s a struggle to put meals together without a stove, oven, kitchen sink or the convenience of a kitchen as the central hub of the home.

Reheated microwave food eaten in front of the TV gets old in a hurry. Convenience foods, ordering in and takeout makes one excruciatingly grateful for the charity of friends and family who send out dinner invitations during a kitchen reno.

Once the myriad of miscellaneous paper plates, napkins, styrofoam cups and plastics utensils found around the house are exhausted, dishes dirtied are washed in the laundry tub in the basement, a perfect strenuous back bend.

Those who have survived a kitchen renovation are nodding their heads. The dust, noise and general commotion are certainly an inconvenience, but nothing compared to the havoc wreaked on one’s diet. The chances of eating out are greatly increased, not to mention expensive. A kitchen renovation may be one of the biggest investments inside a home, without the added surprise expense of the variety of ways food is purchased, prepared and consumed.

BBQing outdoors is great unless the weather is nasty. Cool, rainy weather does not a happy BBQer make.

It’s almost a guaranteed fact each member of the kitchen remodelling home will gain a few pounds while their kitchen is in shambles. Six to eight weeks may not sound like a long time, but in reality this is more than enough time to significantly increase the intake of high-sodium fast food and greasy take-away.

While a kitchen remodel can be one of the most exciting, rewarding home improvement projects, it nears the top of the list as one of the most frustrating and stressful to endure.

Where does family life tend to center? The kitchen. Functioning without one disrupts so many aspects of day to day life. A kitchen remodel is definitely something you want to plan for. You need a survival plan for the weeks and possibly months of construction ahead. A basic tear-out will be at least four to six weeks with pretty much no access to the kitchen. A significant renovation can take at least three months of chaos without a kitchen.

Don’t be distracted by the excitement. It fades fast. The decision-making and budget-making that go with a kitchen reno are enormous. There are an overwhelming number of decisions required. By the time you’ve picked the right door handles from the never-ending plethora of choices, it’s almost impossible to think of what the heck you’re going to eat.

Kitchen renos are high stress. The hub of the home is upended for weeks and it’s really difficult to anticipate the emotional upheaval that comes with it. Your eating habits and body suffer for it.

You start with a dream; decide to make it a reality and embark on the kitchen makeover journey. So much research, time and effort is made in picking out the contractors, countertops, cabinets, lighting, backsplash, faucet, sink - the list goes on and on. Somewhere in the mire of decision making the details of life like actual eating are left unplanned for.

Here are some of my favourite suggestions to help survive a kitchen reno.

Set up a temporary kitchen. This needs to be far away from the kitchen and include either your current refrigerator or your downstairs beer fridge may have to be converted to hold food items for the duration of the reno.

Invest in paper plates and disposable utensils. Better yet, look around your house in all those perfect storage places. You may find a stockpile of disposable plates and utensils. Now is the time to use them all up - and you will.

When budgeting - add the cost of eating out. This will be a bigger item than you might think. Figure out how much you typically spend on a restaurant meal. Multiply this by the number of meals in a day and weeks or months your reno is expected to last. This method will give you an idea of how quickly this expense adds up. Start putting out the feelers for invites to family and friends. Even plan to make a meal or two in someone else’s kitchen.

Consider your pets. Pets used to having the run of the house will be affected when sections are off limits to them. Suddenly their wide open space will be subdivided by loud, plastic partitions that annoy dogs and scare cats. Do what you can to appease the beast.

It’s easy to be distracted by the excitement and pre-planning of a new kitchen. The devil is in the details - those are what you really have to plan for.

Renos are always longer than you think they will be. You need to prepare for and expect day-to-day interruptions. Have a plan and know there will be days when you don’t see any progress. Stop watching the DIY and home reno shows that completely transform a house inside of an hour. Two weeks and $10,000 isn’t going to cut it. There will be delays and cost overruns.

Once you’ve got your contractor of choice - trust them. Ask their opinions and don’t second-guess yourself. Try to keep a sense of perspective and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Finally - keep a sense of humour. If you didn’t have one to begin with, this may not be the project for you. When you get to that low point where the mess and stress get to you, stop and breathe. Take a few moments to make a mental list of things for which you are grateful. An anticipated new kitchen should be one of them.

While a kitchen renovation can be a huge distraction and test your limits, remember - you’re blessed to have a kitchen to renovate. Being inconvenienced by it all is definitely a first-world problem. Don’t be discouragingly distracted - make the most of it; enjoy the journey and look forward to the day when you’ll be back on the healthy eating track, cooking scrumptious home-made meals in your dream kitchen.

Nancy Revie is a Guelph author, motivational speaker, fitness instructor and entertainer. Visit Nancy at Her column appears every other week.