Cultural Poisoning - Emotionally Empty Meals

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Not only is the current food culture poisoning our bodies, but it has poisoned our lives as well. People have lost the ability to enjoy dinnertime rituals that strengthen families. That 20 minutes you took getting fast food could have been spent- 

  • Making a dinner with your family.

  • Teaching your kids how to cook.

  • Teaching your kids about healthy eating.

  • How to make a radish rose, just because.

  • What spices go on what foods. Experimenting with different flavors.

  • Just talking and hanging around in the kitchen. With everyone pitching in and talking amidst the sounds of clanging of pots and dishes.

  • Smelling the food that almost ready in anticipation of how good it will be.

  • Lingering around the table.

  • Building strong family bonds.

Cooking with your kids not only shows them how to cook and helps them develop a healthy eating lifestyle that will help keep them healthy for life, but also gives you the opportunity to teach them math, history, cultures, and family tradition.

I often hosted many of my daughter’s friends at dinner. We always had to have extra food on hand because there was always going to be someone extra at the table. Those kids would sit around that table talking and laughing and eating as long as you would let them. It’s a luxury many of them did not get at home. I think that’s a sad statement.

If you have teens, the dinner ritual is really - really important. It’s a time to relax and connect. Families who do this are stronger. So many problems could be avoided if we just take some time to connect with our kids. A recent study from Columbia University’s Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that teens who eat dinner with their families 6 or 7 nights a week are about half as likely to abuse drugs or alcohol or smoke.

I always complained that my father was the slowest eater on the planet. He’s never been heavy. Ahhh, but he has now lost his title to my daughter. We often sit at the table for an hour, eating and talking. When we have people over for dinner, it’s not unusual to sit around the table for hours. I even bought upholstered dining chairs because we spend so much time at the table.

You would think we would weight a ton, right? I’m a size 2 (by today’s sizing – used to be a 6). She’s a size 5. It’s about the relationship you have with food. And, that is what you pass on to your kids. What kind of legacy are you leaving?

Family mealtimes have been an important part of history and culture. Studies show that the simple act of having family mealtimes – at the dinner table, help literacy, nutrition, obesity, help reduce behavioral problems, and gives you the chance to “model, coach, monitor and influence children’s behavior.” If you would like to read more on this important subject, go to the library and check out “Family Mealtime as a Context of Development and Socialization.”

Some cultures still practice the old style of eating. Eating a large lunch and taking your time – eating slowly and enjoying conversation, followed by a siesta. What’s dinner time for us would be a snack time to them. Then they eat a light supper later at night. This style of living has never fit into the American schedule. They eat 5 times a day, and sleep 2 times a day.

While we can’t do that – we can make sure to eat 5 times a day (2 times are snacks). We can take our time and enjoy a good tasting and healthy dinner – and get in some physical activity after dinner. And we can make sure to get a reasonable amount of sleep every night. It’s a lifestyle choice.

Besides, do you really enjoy bad food? Wouldn't it have been much more enjoyable, and relaxing to have delicious smells and tastes? How about marinated chicken and grilled vegetables? Juicy fresh tomatoes? It only takes 20 minutes to cook. 

Followed by some cool sweet watermelon? Or tart cherries?  

Imagine the smells drifting through the air while you sit and relax for a few minutes. Your mouth watering in anticipation. Your family actually wanting to sit down and eat dinner together. Isn't that a lot more fun?  

Who knows, after a little relaxing and some good food, you all might decide to go bowling or something!

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