Good Meals start with a family who eats together

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Last night I went to bed excited about writing my first real blog entry. I had so many ideas swimming in my head that I found it hard to sleep. I figured I would start with my most basic philosophy on meals. What a person puts in his or her body should be real and natural. I spent a long time living in France and that is where I learned how to cook, and how to eat. That is where I formed my belief system about food, thanks to my French mother Pauline. I believe that one should care about the food that he or she is eating, and that one should eat food made from quality ingredients and that includes things that come from nature, not from a lab. I will touch on this a little more in a later post. This post is about the importance of families eating together. I believe that meals should be eaten at the table, not in front of a television, not in the car (the one exception to this rule in our house is pizza and movie night). I must also say I was greatly influenced by my mother who made sure that we always ate as a family.
Pauline once said something that really stuck in my mind, "the table is not only a place to eat, but to meet." It is true, the dinner table is a place to nourish the body and the soul. Think about it, when you sit down to eat with your family, you have the chance to find out about everyone's day and catch up. You are eating slowly and savoring your food. I recently found this excellent article on entitled "Why Families Should Eat Dinner Together." The article basically backs up what I have believed all along. Families that sit down to dinner together enjoy a multitude of benefits. Studies have shown that families who eat together build stronger relationships through communication, children do better in school, and the family actually eats healthier! In addition, children grow into more well adjusted teens and adults.
There are a multitude of studies that support the argument that family dinners are essential to a healthy, happy family. These studies have proven that children whose families eat together four or more times a week, have higher test scores. Preschoolers have more advanced language skills given that dinner together provides an opportunity to hear more spoken language. Teenagers who eat dinner with their families an average of five days per week are less likely to do drugs or be depressed than other teenagers. In addition, children whose families eat together on a regular basis consume less sugary beverages such as juice and pop, and more water and milk. They also consume less processed and fatty foods and more vegetables and foods rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Unfortunately our culture now is that families that eat together has become the exception and not the norm. I know many people who will feed their kids dinner and then eat dinner as a couple later instead of eating together at the earlier time. Oftentimes, the children in these situations get something believed to be "kid friendly" (i.e. pre-made processed, frozen garbage or processed pre-made garbage from a box, as I call it). We also have a tendency in this country to over-schedule our kids in activities that oftentimes happen at or around dinner. So the question is, what are we going to do to change this? Here is what works in my family, and we eat together every night.

1. We schedule a time for dinner. 5:30, because that is when our son is hungry. When David and I did not yet have a child, we still ALWAYS ate together, our dinner time was later, but we had a scheduled time. Dinner time is sacred. We do not schedule other activities at or around dinner time. Everyone is expected to be present at dinner.

2. I prepare a weekly menu and I cook dinner every night. Everyone eats the same thing. I am not a short order cook. If someone does not like what I have made, too bad (although in my house we really don't have this problem). Children are not going to starve themselves, eventually they will eat what is put in front of them. However, like I said, I am lucky in that we really don't have this problem in my house. My son is a good eater and always has been.

3. The TV is always turned off during dinner. We do not have dinner in front of the TV, the only exception is our weekly pizza and movie night. We do not even have a TV anywhere near the kitchen or dining room. It defeats the purpose of having dinner together if you and your family are distracted by the TV. Also, it has been proven that people who eat in front of the TV typically eat MORE than people who do not eat in front of the TV. The premise is that you are not paying attention to how much you are putting into your body when you are distracted by the television.

So these are just a few of my thoughts on this subject. I have lots more ideas floating around in my head. My next entry will be on prepping my weekly meals and saving money by prepping ahead.
Until next time Foodie Mommies and Daddies, happy cooking!


jessicaliliane said...

I agree with you...families should eat together!! I loved it when I was growing up. And now we try to do the same thing, but the TV is a hard habit to kick. That's a good idea to remove the distraction all together..I'll have to think abou t that one. :)

Amy said...

It's so nice to hear other people talking about eating from natural food sources. I think I tried that a little anyway but then I saw Food Inc. and it reaffirmed the idea for me. I'm still working at it but feel like I'm making improvements. I haven't even eaten Raisin Bran for a long time because it's got HFCS :(. I've recently made the goal to cook 4 nights a week, leaving room for leftovers, easy-fix meals and going out. I hope to eventually get to 5 nights a week. Hopefully you'll provide the inspiration I need!

p.s. Have you read Food Rules by Michael Pollen? Also, do you buy free range chicken? That's something new I've been doing but it's pricey.

frenchieliza said...

I have not read Food Rules but have it on hold at the library. We are not perfect either, it can be VERY pricey to by 100% organic products. I do buy free range chicken when I can, but it is expensive and my family has a tight budget, so I usually only buy it when it goes on sale. I think as a nation we need to stand up and write letters, get our voices heard. Change will not happen until the people make a big stink about things. My biggest thing is making sure that my family gets healthy, balanced meals that are free of (or as free as they can be) chemically altered foods made in a lab.

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