Eating together, thinking together

April 03, 2012 By: Ed Category: Uncategorized

by Sahar Majid

People these days are much busier than they ever were. Adults have the pressure of work. Between school and after-school activities, children too are always on the go. Family members take meals together less often than they did until three or four decades ago. Eating separately is on the rise. When a family gathers around the table to eat together, the relation between parents and children, brothers and sisters, husband and wife grows stronger. When family members eat separately, these bonds weaken gradually and the mutual understanding reduces. Breakfasts are generally not taken together because of different timings for family members to leave for their workplace and educational institution, except on Sundays and weekly holidays, when quite often a more elaborated breakfast is either cooked or brought from an eatery. Halwa-puri being one of the most in demand form of breakfast on holidays. In the days when the entire family gathered at the breakfast table plans for the day were often discussed at some length, depending on the time and inclination. Likewise on Sundays lunches are taken together, quite often the extended families of sons and daughters, living separately, assemble at the parents’ home, giving the grandparents the chance to be with their grandchildren. Dinner time is the one when all family members can sit together around dining table, they find out what everyone did that day. Children also learn table manners and pick up family values. It’s the time when families can enjoy each others’ company.With the pressure of work and stressful lifestyle, not to speak of the continuous race against time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to have meals together. More often than not television programmes have disrupted dinners on the dining table. Every one picks up the plate and goes to the TV lounge. Needless to say, TV viewing has created a communication gap in the families. Research studies tell us two things, the first is that children actually enjoy sitting down for a meal with their parents, and secondly they are more likely to eat balanced meals when eating with the adults. Dining together is a wonderful source of learning. Children get to learn table manners, which is lacking in even adults in some families.

By eating varied, tasty and healthy meals together a parent acts as a role model for children to follow and teaching them eating habits that will keep them healthy.Conversations during the meal provide opportunities for the family to bond, plan, connect, and learn from one another. It’s a chance to share information and news of the day, as well as give extra attention to one’s children. Family meals foster warmth, security and love, as well as feelings of belonging. It can be a unifying experience for all. Research has shown that teenagers who belong to a family that eats together are not addicted to drugs or smoking as compared to families, which don’t assemble at the dining table at least once a day. This means that eating together helps the younger generation to respect family values and live a healthier life.Children who eat meals with their parents and family have higher academic performance as compared to those who find lesser chances to assemble with their family members, at meal times, says a sociologist. Eating with family helps to save money because meals purchased from food outlets costs two to four times more than meals prepared at home. If scheduling is making organised meals an impossibility, a little planning can work wonders. Use a weekend day to make a few meals in advance. Then, whoever gets home first on a weeknight can start the salad or begin heating the main dish. As I sit here and write this, I realise that it is becoming more important for us to eat together as a family. Family mealtime can become a highlight of the day and a way to build some pleasant family memories. Therefore, now is the time to bring the family back to the dining table. Sharing dinner together gives everyone a sensof identity. It can help ease day-to-day conflicts, as well as establish traditions that can last a lifetime.

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