What do healthy family meals mean to you? It always reminds me of the delicious meals prepared by mom and or grandma and enjoyed by everyone when the whole family sat around the dining table in the evening, chatted and laughed together.
Family meals are always “healthy” in the sense that they are almost always enjoyed with a delightful, enthusiastic heart. Therefore, their healthiness does not come merely from the nutrition of the food served but also the family atmosphere, identity, and relationships that are fostered. The meals constitute the family values, tradition, and culture that shape us and make us who we are.
Unfortunately, things are not quite the same nowadays. When was the last time you had eaten at home? It is sad to note that the life of the postmodern era is so very busy that eating together have been disappearing from the dining table of a large majority of families in our days. So are the chats and laughter, family ties and values.
Even if they are served, our eating time together is usually fast food prepared in restaurant kitchens. In addition, the family members don’t partake the food together. Not a few have their meals in front of a television or computer. Even when there is a stay home mom to prepare dinner every day, members of the family usually have their meals separately at different times. Some husbands and wives rarely eat together on a regular basis.
Nowadays, family members gather together only on annual festive seasons such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, or special occasions such as birthday, graduation day, wedding day, anniversary etc. Some families especially extended families meet even more infrequently. They may share their meal together only once a year or once in a few years.
If you haven’t dined together with your family members for quite some time, do take the time to ponder on ways to improve it. It is worth your time and efforts considering the long term relational and health benefits that you and your family will reap.
If you and your family do not have the habit of having to dine together, start with having it once a month, invite family members to make time for it. If getting together is a great challenge, keep working on it.
As for the meal, do not expend too much energy on it at this initial stage. Focus on getting everyone together; get into the habit of enjoying a meal together at least once every month. Get the food that all of you enjoy, do not be too particular about the healthiness of the food if it is not the concern of the family members.
Taking into account the unique situation of your family, slowly move toward having a family meal once every two weeks and then to once a week. Some families may find it difficult to meet once a week, work out the best solution that suits the need of your family. Having a family meal once every day is an ideal for our time. However, it may not be possible for some families.
As for the healthiness of the family meals, work gradually from dining out to a semi-home cooked meal which means you cook some of the dishes while ordering some from a restaurant to ease your preparation. When you become good at organizing your family meals, aim for a fully home cooked meal. Take time to improve the healthiness of the food you serve.