Are we Raising Mindful Eaters or Mindless Eaters? April 10, 2017 11:50
Let's face it meal time can be a tough go for many of us. Between the tried and true "labelled" picky eater. The child that is set in their texture ways or the child that only wants rice or bread for every meal on a daily. We know them, maybe we've been them and perhaps we're raising them.
On the other end of the spectrum I want to ask you: are we raising a mindful eater or a mindless eater? You may be saying well, what do you mean by that? I'm talking about the child that can only eat if distracted by a device. Be it, a computer screen, phone, tv or ipad whatever it is, is your child distracted while eating; rather mindlessly eating?
Or is your child a mindful eater? Is there zero distraction all electronics off and away and engaging in a conversation while sitting with family and friends for meal time?
Before we go further I'm no perfect peach over here! I'll admit I have often been caught on my phone while eating my breakfast when the house is totally quiet and the kids are sleeping. I call it a minor mommy moment before the morning chaos stirs. It's a quick moment to catch up on the days news, instagram and facebook posts, however it's totally mindless and before I know it I have scarfed down my breakfast without realizing my bites, chews and gulps. Is it healthy? no! Is it okay to do once in a while, it happens but NO it's not healthy; it's mindless.
So lets talk about the wee people we're raising. I don't know about you but everyone's face, no matter where you are is engrossed in their technology and more often than not it's not just adults but children and young children too. When you're out at a restaurant you see small kids on mom and dad's cell phone or watching a movie on their ipad propped up in the center of the dinner table slowly feeding themselves.... or not eating at all and watching their device. This is mindless eating.
What about the child that can only eat or ingest anything if distracted not just by technology but by playing. You know, the child that is forever running around while mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandparents chase them with a fork full of food to take a bite. This is crazy!
Recently, while talking with girlfriends and parents alike it seems as though it's the norm to not sit down for a family meal at all in the week and if lucky maybe once. People are okay with this? What happened to the good ol' basic family mealtime?
Of course I had to pry further to find out if they aren't sitting down to a family meal what is happening? I got comments like: "well I eat standing up while the kids eat at the table because I just have so much to do!"
"Oh the kids watch the movies on their ipad while I do the dishes or laundry and they eat their dinner."
I even heard: "I eat whatever I can in the car or I eat what I can when I can. My kids aren't hungry for dinner" Say What?!?!
Okay people let's rewind for a second, family meal time is good quality time. It's time to reconnect, engage and learn about each other and reflect on the day. So I pose this question: Where did we lose all the values? When did little picky eater Scott become a picky eater? Is it when he was consumed by tv watching and snacking all at the same time? Was it when mom, dad, brother, sister didn't sit down to a family meal? Was it when he was actually eating broccoli but too engulfed in his netflix movie that he didn't realize he was eating broccoli.
"Where did we lose our values"
We have lost sight of what's important. We need to put down the electronics, engage in conversation, connect with our food, family and friends and we need to start a conversation about being mindful eaters. Better yet, we need to become mindful eaters!
With Staggering rates of childhood obesity, childhood diabetes, ADD, ADHD, anxiety and everything else that comes from such busy mindless behaviour there needs to be a point where we say: "enough is enough!" Let's get back to basics.
With out further ado, listed below are my tips to bringing mindful eating back to the table.
- shut off all distractions and devices. Make the dinner table a device free zone #devicefreezone
- set dinner time for the family at a time that works for your household. In our house it's 5-5:30pm. This allows time for digestion before any littles go to sleep for the night
- Set the table, kids love to help; get them to do this task. If your kids are toddlers don't think they aren't capable. Our 2 year old loves placing the plates and cups on the table.
- Serve your meal family style. Have your main, sides and a pitcher of water handy this allows for less interruption and a more engaged meal time
- Use a gratitude box to talk about what each family member is grateful for or key jar as a conversation starter. My fam loves doing the round table discussion and you learn so much about each others day and thoughts.
- Make a conscious effort to change- this is the ultimate game changer if you stay on a path of zero family meals, eating on the go, feeding yourself or your child in front of the tv progress will not happen. Aim for one to two family meals a week to start.
Studies suggest that family meal time lowers rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy and depression. Higher grade point averages, boosted self esteem, lower obesity rates and lower eating disorders are also some of the positive side effects to meal time together.
Get back to basics. Enjoy a device free meal together and become engaged mindful eaters.
Yours in good health
Nadia Mirza, CNE
Images obtained from google image search