It is so important and fun to eat together as a family.

Murf relaxing after International Friday.

My favourite room in the house is the kitchen, it’s where we as a family can be imaginative, creative and share our experiences of the day or plan tomorrow. It’s the room where I have most of my memories. Some of my funniest ones are “International Friday” this is where each week one of us gets to choose the family meal. A lot of research goes into this and it does become competitive as we all try to out do each others meal. However you have to be mindful as we all have very different tastes so the dish must suit all. Tuesday is the day you have to present what you have chosen and detail the ingredients that must be purchased. When possible we will all go out to buy the ingredients, however this happens rarely! We all are involved in the cooking, including the dog who manages to lie in the middle of my very small kitchen and supervise whilst hoovering up anything that may end up on the floor.

There never seems to be arguments and we all pull together as a team each of us contributing and working in unity. I hope this creates lots of memories for my girls and maybe in years to come they may try it with their family. My big confession is I let them relax and do whatever they want after the meal thus let them off the clean up.

Family dinner is important. In todays world it would be so much easier to forget about this meal, we are juggling jobs, children and after-school activities to name a few. We are constantly on the move, thus feeling the need to eat on the run. At the turn of the last century dinner time was 90 minutes, now it is just over 10! Meal time is the only time when all family members are in one place together. Let’s face it some family members view dinner time as a burden and a chore at the end of the day.

In the last couple of decades the frequency of family dinners has dramatically declined by a whopping 33 percent. An American poll found that 62 percent of parents with children under 18 wish they had family dinners more often! The European Unions mission has set out to achieve universal access to affordable, balanced, healthy food to all through intersectoral policies of Health 2020.

Just because things have changed, does not mean the value of meals has weakened. Interestingly enough, according to research at Columbia University, children and teenagers who at least have a family meal three or more times a week are less likely to be overweight, more likely to eat healthy food, do better in school, less likely to engage in risk taking ie drugs, alcohol and sexual activity. They also tend to form better relationships with their parents.

“More frequent family dinners are related to fewer emotional and behavioural problems, greater emotional well-being, more trusting and helpful behaviours towards others and higher life satisfaction.” Journal of Adolescent Health, April 2012.

We are what we eat and it is imperative we start to take responsibility as parents. But it must be more than just in the home where we educate, schools must get on board, our governments, we need cultural change. As a rehabilitated smoker and one that enjoyed a packet a day to not smoking it is proof that when we all come together and promote the dangers of something we can create change. I am not advocating removing peoples freedom of choice but encouraging that we have the information to make the right choices for our family without bias marketing used by modern day food companies. Case in point Activia yogurt said it had “special bacterial ingredients.”

In 2050 we will need to feed two billion more people. Our choice of food we decide to eat is already becoming very important and these choices will have consequences for our planet. In short a diet based around meat and dairy will take a grater toll on the worlds resources then one that is centred on unrefined grains, nuts, fruit, and vegetables.

As today is Friday and my youngest chose the meal which is chilli con carne, which also happens to be one of her favourites! I always enjoy the girls handling onions as inevitably swimming goggles appear on my little ones face to avoid onion tears. Every time it makes me laugh but she does have the last laugh as the rest of us are suffering with tears streaming from our eyes, even the dog vacates the kitchen till it is safe to return!

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