I remember coming home one night to a demoralized father and a hysterical daughter.
My daughter loves pancakes, so for supper that night, my husband thought he would make crepes for a special treat (a big deal coming from a man who does not love to cook). He had even made a spinach and cheese filling and béchamel sauce on the side. My daughter took one look, burst into tears and refused to take a single bite.
Eating together as a family is not always a joyful experience. However, from a very young age, meals and emotions are linked together in an inseparable process. For children, they can help provide a sense of safety and nurturing within the family environment.
The importance of eating together has many other documented benefits including: better nutrition, better performance at school and reduced high-risk behaviours (such as drugs and eating disorders).
While most of us would agree that family meals are important, with busy work and extracurricular schedules, it can be hard to find this time together.
Luckily, a family meal does not have to include every member of the family and does not have to happen around the kitchen table. In most of the research done, the “family meal” was defined as two or more people eating together, not in front of the television.
Here are some ideas to make meals together easier:
• Prepare for meals in advance. If you are rushed for time, do not plan a fancy meal.
• Try to involve children in food preparation and clean up; the aim is to create positive associations with preparing food, rather than displaying it as a “chore.”
• If suppertime is too busy, try eating breakfast together instead. If weekdays are too hectic, focus first of weekend meals.
• During meals, turn off the TV and the ringer on your phone. Try speak to family members about their day instead.
• If you are picking up fast food, either eat at the restaurant or bring it home, don’t eat in the car.
• Realize that mealtime chaos is very normal in our culture. All you can do is try your best!