The Nourishing Home
It is not just about the food on the table!
When we think of nourishment, we think of the food we eat or serve but dwell less on how we eat it! Recent studies globally amazingly point to a similar trend - families who had “meals together”, had children and teens who ate more fruits and vegetables, chose more nutrient rich foods, and drank fewer soft drinks. Of course, this is no magic bullet but with so many studies confirming this trend it will be good to pay attention to these findings.
Wondering about the relevance in India? – well the situation in urban households is no different, with both parents working, long work hours, juggling work and children’s schedule.
Let’s look at what eating together as a family can do for all of us, especially children
Easier to inculcate healthier eating habits.
Children learn by observing and by experience and not by being told. If parents have healthy eating habits, children will get inspired.
Lower incidence of obesity
A meal together serves as an anchor for the family, nurtures the sense of belonging. It is a time for everyone to share and reflect about their day
Conversations around mealtime can help increase vocabulary leading to better readers.
Better performance in school/academics.
Creates awareness of current events and encourages better social and communication skills.
Teens who eat dinners at home regularly are less likely to indulge in substance abuse!
So how to make it work?
It may seem difficult at first, but the pandemic has ushered in the era of work from home that gives us ample opportunities to spend more time at home and try and match meal timings with family members.
Say No to meals in front of the television
Make it a priority – make your family understand, once they start doing it, and experience the benefits, there is no going back.
Start small - if dinner every day is not possible, aim for breakfast – to start, target a minimum of three meals during the week.
Make meals interesting - get the family involved in menu planning and if possible, even cooking. There is definitely an increased interest in cooking with many ‘DIY videos, thanks to the pandemic and the numerous cooking contests on television like Master Chef India
No screens - Turn off all screens like mobiles, television during meals, and make mealtimes, a priority.
Break the ice – Ask simple questions like “what was the best part of your day”, “what went well for you today or what did not?” – and before you realize everyone starts talking and telling things which may be difficult to talk about, otherwise!
The secret sauce of the family meal is not just what food is on the table but how the food is eaten together, by unwinding and building connections.
Meera is a food technologist and nutritionist with 25 years of experience in the food industry. She has been involved in food product development for a decade at both M&M Mars Inc. in the United States and Hindustan Unilever (HUL), India. She headed the Nutrition function for south Asia, in her last corporate role at HUL. She is also a featured contributor for a parenting magazine (ParentEdge) anchoring articles in the health and nutrition space. She has anchored content generation for apps focusing on diabetes and nutrition education for children.
She is passionate about nutrition communication, simplifying nutrition messages for the lay person. She is also a feature contributor for a parenting magazine (ParentEdge) anchoring articles in the health and nutrition space. She has anchored content generation for apps focusing on diabetes and nutrition education for children.
Ms Meera Srinivasan
Nutrition & Health Expert