For many, eating as a family is slipping through their fingers, like time. Have we somehow become products our own modern conditioning and reversed our priorities? Why are we rushing past one of the most sacred moments we have with our families? There are so many reasons why we need it now more than ever. With so many competing factors like convenient fast foods, activities, and technology, are we sadly tossing the baby out with the bath water in a time when a gray-water system is really what we need.
Passing the blame would be the easiest thing to do. Fast food options certainly play their part by offering us a wide variety of low cost, tasty foods that we can enjoy on the fly. But we are compromising much more than our physical health. We are sacrificing the ritual of eating together that nurtures more than our bodies. Eating together has so many benefits. It is an ideal time for bonding, communicating, developing good habits, and yes, even, emotional stability that feeds into our other aspects of living. What we eat, how much, where, and in what context all play a role in health and wellness of our families.
Here are a few reasons why eating as family works:
Eating together is less expensive and healthier.
Eating together teaches us about sustainability: children learn the cycle of farm to table.
Eating together saves time. Yes, really!
Eating together fosters good communication and models positive behavior.
Eating together is emotionally stabilizing and builds healthy relationships.
Eating together encourages mindfulness and gratitude.
Here are a few tips on how to maximize and prioritize family meal times:
Meal preparation should be approached as anything else; a plan of action and a little organization is a good starting point. Then design a meal plan for the week and a shopping list based on the plan. Stock the pantry with non-perishables, such as spices, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts etc…. If you need help with this, Earth’s Elements is glad to come to the rescue.
Plan meals and shop with your kids. It’s not as hectic as it may seem with a plan and list to follow. This is a ripe time to teach kids about discipline and staying on the list path and a good time to putting reading and math skills to the test.
Prepare meals with your kids; allow them the freedom to explore creating their own edible masterpieces. This is a process of trial and error, but they will learn. Studies have shown that when kids participate in the meal preparation process, they are more likely to eat and enjoy what they have made.
Prepare meals ahead of time (weekends are an ideal time) to counteract busy work and activity nights. Cook more, freeze more, Stress less.
Assign tasks and be cooperative in the process (i.e.: table set-up and clean up).
Share positive stories about your day and laugh often!
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Northwest Philly Parents is a partnership between Newsworks and Germantown Avenue Parents