Mark Hyman, MD, wrote an article for The Huffington Post called “How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life.” While its focus is on how the industrialized food system in America has made the family dinner obsolete, he makes some interesting points about how to make home-cooked meals a priority. If you have a family, you might find this piece interesting. If you’re single, or a couple like Bill and me, there are still relevant points to consider, not to mention the research he cites.
For example, did you know that in 1900, 2 percent of meals were eaten outside the home, while in 2010, 50 percent were eaten away from home and one in five breakfasts is from McDonald’s? Or that regular family dinners protect girls from bulimia, anorexia, and diet pills?
If you don’t read the article, at least check out his seven tips that can help you take back the family dinner. Even if you are a family of one, these tips have value.
- Reclaim Your Kitchen: Throw away any foods with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats or sugar or fat as the first or second ingredient on the label. Fill your shelves with real fresh, whole, local foods when possible. And join a community support agriculture network to get a cheaper supply of fresh vegetables weekly or frequent farmers markets.
- Reinstate the Family Dinner: Read Laurie David’s “The Family Dinner”. She suggests the following guidelines: Make a set dinnertime, no phones or texting during dinner, everyone eats the same meal, no television, only filtered or tap water, invite friends and family, everyone clean up together.
- Eat Together: No matter how modest the meal, create a special place to sit down together, and set the table with care and respect. Savor the ritual of the table. Mealtime is a time for empathy and generosity, a time to nourish and communicate.
- Learn How to Cook and Shop: You can make this a family activity, and it does not need to take a ton of time. Keep meals quick and simple.
- Plant a Garden: This is the most nutritious, tastiest, environmentally friendly food you will ever eat.
- Conserve, Compost, and Recycle: Bring your own shopping bags to the market, recycle your paper, cans, bottles and plastic and start a compost bucket (and find where in your community you can share you goodies).
- Invest in Food: As Alice Waters says, food is precious. We should treat it that way. Americans currently spend less than 10 percent of their income on food, while most European’s spend about 20 percent of their income on food. We will be more nourished by good food than by more stuff. And we will save ourselves much money and costs over our lifetime.