Whether it’s a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast or a fancy dinner, the family meal serves as a metaphorical pause in the chaos and commotion of everyday life. A big bowl of pasta smothered in tomato sauce and covered in cheese can be a belly-warming hug when you’re distressed. And sharing a platter of prawns with a bottle of wine on a summer’s day to celebrate a special occasion can lift one’s spirits and remind us to celebrate our blessings.
This break from busyness, the simple act of gathering around a table, not only refuels our bodies but also resets our minds and nurtures our hearts. Movies do a great job of demonstrating this in many scenes – whether it’s a deeply poignant coming-of-age scenario or a colourful, noisy Thanksgiving feast. If we’re to sustain a life packed with demands, deadlines and commitments, we need to be our best selves for the job. And a nourishing family mealtime is the key part to it all.
Just cast your mind to the smell of a chicken roasting in the oven at your family home; or taking that first bite of your dad’s famous macaroni and cheese, your wife’s breyani or your grandmother’s umfino. Time spent with loved ones is always special, but sharing food adds meaning.
A research study undertaken in 2003 at the Department of Psychology at Emory University found that children engaging in regular family meals begin to learn more about their family heritage and history; this knowledge resulting in closer family relationships, higher self-esteem and a greater sense of control over their own lives.
This is why family mealtimes matter – now more than ever.
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