This month I have been thinking about these busy days and what changes I need to make to slow down the pace of my family. Certain seasons or events in our lives cause us to pause and and prioritize. After a busy day winds down, I reflect on the time and attention I actually gave my family and friends, and I am sometimes disappointed. Intentionally setting aside time to enjoy food with others is a way to create some space to listen and be present with the people in your life.
While finding time to sit down to a meal as a family can be challenging, it is worth the effort. Sharing a meal together is good for our health and spirit. Research studies have confirmed the many benefits of family meal time: lower rates of depression, substance abuse and pregnancy in teens, higher academic performance, and increased self-esteem. Regular family meals also reduce the risk of eating disorders and obesity. Wow, that is a powerful meal!
So how do we add one more thing to our over-scheduled lives? Keep it simple. Family meal time does not have to revolve around a meal involving a lot of preparation.
-Turn off the TV and devices during meals and snacks. Talk and eat instead of engaging in ‘distracted eating’.
-Seize every opportunity to pause and enjoy food with family and friends. Instead of checking off more ‘to-do’s’ on your list, take a minute to sit down and enjoy breakfast or a snack with your children and family.
-Some evenings your family may eat in shifts. Set aside some time to sit down with the person who is eating and talk.
-Set up lunch time with friends.
-Use technology to truly connect ... I have used face-time at lunch so my husband and I can eat together!
-Check out thefamilydinnerproject.org for meal ideas, conversation starters, and inspiration.
Food is a wonderful gift that gives us energy, nourishes our bodies, and tastes delicious. Taking time to sit down and enjoy it with others is a source of joy and connectedness in our lives.
So instead of solely focusing on the quality of our foods, let’s be conscious of our opportunities
to slow things down. Let’s enjoy our food and share our invaluable time with others.
Jill Trotman, MPH, RD, LDN, CDE