Have you ever noticed that food tastes better when you eat it with your loved ones? It isn’t only about filling your tummies but also about filling your heart with good memories and happy times. Eating a meal together is one of the best ways to bond over, plant a new relationship or rekindle lost friendship. Above all, it is the act of planning and preparing a meal which creates joy and cheer among everyone involved.
‘Togetherness’ is something that’s lacking in abundance today. Each member of the family has a different set of interests and none is ready to give up his/her interest for the sake of others. There are three televisions in almost every household where each member (living with grandparents has become a rarity nowadays) gets to watch his/her favorite channels and episodes. Food is one of the rare things that brings together such different people and help them bond over it. Apart from sharing quality time as a family eating together sparks greater benefits as discussed by reputed dietitians, nutritionists and others:
Maintain Simplicity: Just because the whole bunch of your family is assembling for dinner this doesn’t make it a party or something. Keep things simple, choose recipes that are quick and easy to prepare and if possible, do some prep work over the weekend.
Stick with ‘One’ Meal: Choose a meal that everyone will eat. You can plan for a few sides to enable picky eaters too to enjoy the meal. Once you start thinking about each member’s favorite dish and start executing it you are going to repent later. After all, the motto behind this family meal was to enjoy each one’s company and eat together and not, enjoy each one’s favorite food.
Involve kids in planning and preparing meals: Kids feel important when their suggestion is asked for. Let them choose recipes or sides. You can even assign age-appropriate tasks such as washing produce, setting the table or mixing the ingredients allowing them to be a part of your cooking chore. In fact, if they are grown-up enough, they can prepare a complete kid-cooked meal and stun the adults during dinner time. When kids are involved in cooking, they are less likely to waste food and likelier to try new foods and different produce.
Lead the conversation: Initiate a conversation with others by cracking a simple joke or asking about their day at office/school/home. Kids can catch up with the flow and take over the conversation thereon.
It can be anything-breakfast, lunch or dinner: Don’t make it mandatory to have a meal together for dinner only. Choose a meal that’s best-suited for your family. It’s also better to choose weekends as they are easier for everyone.
Plan the numbers and inform others: It is suggested to eat at least two meals together every week. Decide on the schedule, make a commitment and stick to it. Be flexible if situation demands but ensure to mark it on your calendar and take it as an appointment!
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.