Eat together eat better
According to the latest figures from Gem 106 families eat together as few as 7 times a month. Does that surprise you, are you one of those families, do you eat every main meal at the table, or do you prepare meals at different times of the day for your household?
Do you remember when you were young and meals were always noisy family affairs with squabbles, chatter and laughter around the table. Well just over third of us do that now and nearly a quarter of us sit in front of the TV to have our meals.
I was asked by Gem106 radio if I was surprised that just under half of people aren’t eating at the table each night. Here’s a 2 minute clip
There are many reasons why eating at the table can benefit the whole family.
It’s a great time to bond as a group; to talk over what each has done during the day, what’s troubling someone, to share happy stories and to seek reassurance and security.
Children can get involved in the planning, cooking and serving of meals (even if you eat different things) and appreciate the time and effort involved in that process. Fun dishes like pitta pizza’s, spiralised veggies, fruit kebabs and tomato spaghetti could encourage then to get involved. Home cooked simple meals are generally lower in sugar, fat and salt than ready meals and takeaways. And the parent can moderate the amount of food that is consumed so that healthy portions are served, including the children’s five-a-day.
Some studies have suggested that family meals may reduce the risk of childhood obesity and may help the whole family to develop healthier eating patterns. Parents can lead by example choosing healthier meals like grilled chicken with sweet potato wedges and vegetables, oily fish (sardines on toast or tuna pasta bake) or a vegetable and cheesed filled omlette with baked beans.
It has also been suggested that a child’s development in particular their vocabulary can be improved by listen to and taking part in family conversations.
When eating in front of the TV or being distracted by other gadgets, the brain often fails to register when you’ve had enough to eat, until its too late and you’ve overeaten, feel bloated or sick. Family meals can have the opposite effect; time is taken to eat, chewing and digesting can be done at a slower pace and the bodies “I’m full’ signals can be recognised. This can lead to a reduction in calories consumed.
Maybe what’s stopping families is a lack of cooking confidence or maybe someone in the family has special dietary requirements like gluten free, vegan or vegetarian. If that’s the case then maybe coming to my vegan and vegetarian cookery classes could give you the confidence and support you need
This is a short 2 minute clip of Nicky, who came to one of my classes and what her experience was like
Has any of this made you think and appreciate that family meals can be so much more than just a chance to refuel?!