Friday, August 6, 2010

Eating Together

Here is a guest post from my daughter, Helen. She lives in England with her husband and their two beautiful, bright little girls aged two and a half and four and a half. She knows all the ins and outs of raising a healthy, happy family in this fast-paced modern world. I hope she will guest again soon. Thanks, Helen.

We all have images that we can remember about the kind of food we ate as children, where we used to sit and who sat with us.

I am very lucky to have memories of eating together as a family, around a dining table with freshly prepared, home-cooked food – and not just on special occasions, but everyday. When I talk to other people about their childhood memories of food and mealtimes, there is a mixed bag – some are as fortunate as I was and have the same recollections, while others, whom I would consider less fortunate, remember eating on their own, or in front of the TV with a TV-dinner or a take-away.

Without exception, it is the children who ate pre-prepared meals without the social aspect of dining together, who have grown up into adults who can’t cook, who eat on the run and are generally less concerned about what they put into their bodies.

Families these days live very separate lives – parents are working and children have very busy lives of their own – often involving the fetching and carrying services of one or both parents – so preparing a meal and eating together can seem a difficult thing to fit in. But here is a challenge to change just one thing:
  • If you rarely eat together, plan one day a week where you can all sit down together – and do it
  • If you rarely cook a meal, plan one meal that you prepare from scratch, choose a simple recipe and give it a go
  • If you find yourself preparing several different meals because of fussy children (or spouses), prepare one meal that everyone will eat (like spaghetti bolognaise, macaroni cheese), get the kids involved too  – making a salad to go along side or garlic bread, and then eat it together
  • Keep the television off and encourage your children to talk about their day

 By setting the scene and getting your children involved in the preparation and cooking of meals, as well as the social aspect of dining together, you are not only giving them a healthy start, you are giving them a life skill that they will appreciate for years to come – even if they don’t like to be told to keep their elbows off the table now!

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