Remember when you were a child and families sat down together at the table every night at the same time for dinner? You probably weren’t allowed to inform your parents you weren’t going to eat at that time or tell them you’d just skip because it wasn’t your favorite dish. Back then, everyone in the family was expected to clear the calendar for dinner, regardless of what important thing you had to do.
I can. I remember telling my friends I had to go, dinner was on and Momma expected me for supper. I couldn’t call home with an excuse from a cell phone (no one had them back then) and even if I had, I would have been in trouble the second I walked through the door.
Supper or dinner, depending on where you lived in the country, was an important activity and one not to be missed. Families used the time to connect, relax, communicate, catch up, and enjoy each other.
Then we grew up, got jobs, went to college, had families, and got busy. Unlike our parents, we didn’t insist on eating together once the kids started school and began to have schedules of their own. We stopped sitting down at the table and instead clamored for the best seats in front of the television to eat. We stopped talking to each other, learning about each other’s days, and enjoying the comfort that comes with being with family.
And we paid a price.
As we stopped having the family dinner and opted for the eat on the run alternative, we began to experience change. Fast food became preferred over a meal that took hours to prepare. Calories and balance were tossed and replaced with convenience and speed.
In our quest to keep up pace with everything we wanted to do, we stopped exercising and grabbed the car keys, even for those errands less than two blocks away! There was no stopping us-we wanted to do more, be more places, experience more simultaneously. And, we found a way to do it.
At first it was just a few pounds. We disregarded these as a part of getting older. Then, when our tempers shortened and demands on our grew taller, we said it was a part of aging, to be expected, nothing to worry about.
By the time we reached our 40s, many of us began to really feel the price we’d paid. Unlike our parents, who didn’t see as many heart attacks, strokes, incidences of diabetes, ect, until closer to the golden years of 60’s and 70’s, we began to need our medical providers earlier and more often.
That’s when it finally hit home. The family dinner was much more than just a time of day we ate. It was the release, the stepping back from our lives, we needed to stay healthy. Our parents understood this and made sure we had it.
Studies back this up. Recent studies show evidence that teens have less stress, adults less depression, anger, and heart disease when a family dinner is part of a daily routine. Part of the reason this may be true is that we tend to cook healthier at home than we eat out in restaurants. Therefore, the family dinner helped control obesity, alleviating a vast number of problems we experience today.
Perhaps as concerns raise for saving the planet and living green, we should also consider that we are a part of the animal kingdom and therefore part of the planet that needs saving as well. It would only take a few adjustments to fit in an hour each night to eat dinner with the family. It might be a hard adjustment at first, and we’d probably feel as if we weren’t being as productive as possible, but that misplaced guilt would fade with time. And, we, too, would reap the benefits in health that our parents did.
Living green doesn’t just mean living in a way our environment thrives. We can’t fix the environment if we aren’t here. And, with current health habits suffering for a vast majority of the population, that is a real possibility.
Learn to live green by first taking care of you, then transferring that knowledge to the rest of the world.