Sadly, many of us rarely share meals anymore. We have all just got too busy to make time and sit down to eat together. Husbands work late, wives are driving their kids to after-school activities at dinnertime and colleagues just grab a sandwich and eat it in front of their PCs – after all, most homes have fantastic internet from places like windstream internet that means that devices are constantly connected and ready to go almost instantly as soon as they’re switched on. What was once a central daily activity is in danger of being extinct.
Are we missing out? Psychologists reckon we are all suffering the consequences, especially kids.
The Benefits of Sharing a Meal
Perhaps our incredible advances in technology have made us forget about the important stuff, the simple things and the value thereof. Perhaps we are too busy on our smartphones to talk to each other. Perhaps it’s time to look at the value of spending time together at the dinner table:
- Sharing Quality Time: Research indicates that children who enjoy regular family meals do better socially and academically than those who don’t. That hardly comes as a surprise. Dinner time is probably the only time when the whole family gathers and sits down together for more than just a few minutes. It’s a time to connect, to check and see how everyone is doing. In some cultures, meals can take hours. People talk, discuss, laugh, cry and enjoy the occasion. That’s real quality time. Kids benefit greatly. They learn from adult conversation and get the opportunity to tell their story to a willing audience. Times such as these are precious and most definitely good for everyone.
- Better Food and Health Benefits: If you go out for a meal and stay away from junk food establishments, you are likely to eat fresh, healthy food. It will be a step up from grabbing a sandwich at the corner store and eating in the car or at work. Shared home cooked meals are also likely to be much healthier than your “grab-a-bite-on-the-road” type food.
When we don’t eat together, on some level, we disconnect and our relationships suffer. It’s not about cooking fancy family meals or spending hours preparing them. It’s about interacting in a meaningful way and growing closer.
Make Sharing a Meal at Home a Ritual
When we were kids, we used to divide up all the various jobs. Someone would wash and peel the potatoes, someone else would set the table and my little brother would usually stand on a chair and stir the soup for my mom. It was a ritual, we didn’t even think about it. Looking back, my heart melts. It was lovely.
The next time you are having dinner together, do the same. Collaborate in the preparation, enjoy the meal together and don’t forget to help with the clean up too.
The value of this experience cannot be overestimated. Cooking together, eating together, having a laugh, discussing issues and enjoying food together is one of the most valuable and enriching experiences we can share.
Enjoy Meals Out Together – Without Your Smartphones
I see people coming into the restaurant. They’ve worked hard all week and are treating themselves and their loved-ones to a nice dinner out. Great. Except then, they all take out their phones and the conversation never really gets into a proper flow.
What a waste of a potentially great evening!
Eating out together can make for a real occasion. No one has to cook or wash up, the food is nice, you might have a nice glass of wine and you are likely to spend much longer at the dinner table together. Everyone is dressed up and in good form and most of all, everyone is making time.
That’s perhaps one of the greatest things about being a chef. Apart from preparing great food, creating the most delicious dishes, a chef provides the fuel for time spent together. It’s always been a privilege to see people enjoy a meal together, to feel the vibrancy of the exchange and to provide the platform and energy for people to spend quality time together.
I try to savour every meal I share, I try to gather people for food occasions. I like to eat with my family, my friends and neighbors. It’s always an occasion.