Gathering around the table at mealtime was a given when I was a child. Whether we ate or not, we were expected to sit with the family until the meal was done. I suppose life was less hectic then, or so it seemed in my young mind.
We were a typical family. Mom. Dad. A couple of siblings. Dad was the main bread winner. Mom contributed part time, and she maintained the household for the most part. We went to church on Sundays, school through the week and visited relatives on Saturdays. Typical.
Often there was conversation during meals. Stories about our day at school, or mom’s and dad’s encounters at work. Plans to visit relatives and other events were made around the table. Discussions over television programs or news stories were shared. Meal time was at the heart of regular conversation. And centre stage for mom’s exceptional meals.
Every meal was unlike any other. Mom’s talent with food was like a new colour on the artist’s palette. New foods were introduced on the table regularly. We learned at a young age to try new tastes and textures. Any shyness to food was obliterated through the insistence of our parents to ‘eat’.
This ritual became a norm; an expected behaviour among families. I was shocked the first time I heard some families didn’t eat together regularly. I felt sad when my friends shared about their family “norm” consisting of a TV tray and a microwaveable dinner while mom and dad were busy doing other things. Some friends only had mom and she was always working.
These days, it’s common to hear about Sunday dinner as the only day all family members join together for a meal. The rest of the week meals are on an individual basis only. Eaten quickly while standing at the kitchen counter or sitting at the computer desk. Or picked up and consumed on the way to work. We now have a “drive-thru” society and eating is merely for sustenance.
The joy of eating lost its worth over the years. Both psycho-social enjoyment and nutritional value lost. Today, food is more accessible than ever. A quick stroll to the corner store guarantees a quick snack. Fast food is available within a kilometre of your front door. Food vendors line their carts along the main streets at lunch hour and exhaust dogs are served up within a blink.
V8 and Fruitopia make up our daily dose of fruit and vegetables. We’ve become desensitized to preservatives and added sugars, simply because there’s no time to cook or prepare quality food. Snack packs are found in most school children’s lunch bags. And a bag of Doritos is considered lunch for some.
The impact food devaluation has had on our physical health and emotional wellness is a subject of its own. I will even go as far to surmise the breakdown of the family unit is positively correlated to making mealtime less a priority.
How do we get everyone back to the table?
I mean .. wouldn’t it be nice to slow society down just a little? Wouldn’t it be cool if we valued good food and relationships more?
Picture this ..
We begin to cherish our family relationships more. We begin sharing meals together at least once a day. The best quality food is chosen for those meals. This doesn’t have to be Lobster Colorado or Fillet Mignon. Simply put, quality food means fresh! That is lots of fresh produce, good quality meats, fresh baked bread and home-made treats.
Imagine the difference this would make. Your physical and emotional wellness would thrive. Waste from poorly made fast food would decrease. And society as a whole may be more respectful.
Valuing our health and relationships should be a priority. When centred around food and sharing a meal together, the pressure to put a lot of effort into it, slips away comfortably. Challenge yourself this week to eat with others in your household at least once every day. This can simply be a cup of tea and a biscuit or scone shared over conversation at some point in the day.
Small changes make big impacts. Impact your health today and get back to the table.
To your health and relationships.
Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.