Why Table Manners Matter More Than You Think!
One of the most disturbing trends in America is the dying of the family meal. The family meal is not just about feeding our physical hunger; it’s a place to satisfy our emotional hunger and for the teaching and passing on of values. The dinner table is a place to feed and nourish the body, mind and soul. How you eat and what you choose to eat, teach your children values that go beyond the dinner table. Children are like sponges: Much of what they take in has to do with moral values and character. Good parents consciously plan and devote time to parenting. They make developing their children’s character their top priority: The family meal is about civilizing the children and teaching them how to be a member of their culture.
The Ritual of the Family Meal
Family meals and its rituals are a rich source of meaning on behavioral, cognitive, and emotional levels. Family mealtime should communicate ideals that children will draw on throughout their lives. It’s in the teenage years that this daily investment pays some of its biggest dividends. Studies show that the more often families eat together, the less likely kids are to develop addictions, eating and mood disorders, and the more likely they are to do well in school, delay having sex, eat their five a day, and know which fork to use. On a side note, although food and structure is important, I always recommend 3 key supplements for all children, as these are part of healthy brain functioning and have shown to improve cognitive functioning (all below supplements are available here):
If family meal patterns are associated with disordered eating behaviors, this will transcend into other areas as well. There is a reason why America struggles with obesity: The joy de vivre that is supposed to be associated with eating has become a thing of the past. On one hand we have families obsessed with dieting and restrictive eating; encouraging children to develop messed up body images, eating disorders and scars for life. On the other hand, we have families living off Domino’s and Fruit Loops munched down in front of the The Biggest Loser on TV. What both extremes lack, however, is a mindfulness approach to eating. When we disconnect from our bodies, override our basic hunger/fullness signals, we are setting ourselves up for disaster: Messing up our biochemistry as well as starving our emotional hunger.
What Your Put on the Dinner Table Today, Will Affect Your Children’s Behavior Tomorrow!
In many European countries eating is a meditative experience, where they actually take several hours off work in the middle of the day to savor a meal. They take time to eat, taste, smell… really savoring the flavors! Something that is almost considered a sin here in the States: Lunch is often scuffed down in the midst of taking phone calls. Most people will opt for an often quite “undelicious”, nutritious disaster of a high-calorie energy bar, instead of sitting down to a proper meal that nurtures their body and mind, and takes the edge off the midday stress, and inevitably enables them to work better. That, and you don’t end your day on a starving sugar crash reaching for the nearest bag of Doritos. Paradoxically: In our desperation to save time, we end up wasting it.
Understanding how the food you feed your children activates their genes and sets them up for addictions and mood disorders in their teenage years will help you realize the importance of planning the family meal. If you don’t take the time to plan now, then you will have to pay the price later. Prevention is always easier and – ironically – saves you time in the end. The choice is yours. Show me your plate, and I will tell you what the future has in store for you!
Learn more about eating right for your brain chemistry type in the NY Times bestseller THE EDGE EFFECT by Eric Braverman MD. You can get it here.
Get Your Family on the Right PATH!
Reconnecting with our body and listening to what it is telling us is the missing link to regaining health on an emotional and physical level; that is why we at PATH specialize in treating the whole family with a cross-disciplinary treatment team consisting of doctors, psychiatrists, nutritionists, brain technicians and coaches: We scan your family’s genetic dispositions in order to avoid genetic determination!
Contact us today to hear more about what we can do for you and your family!
Reference: Sen B. The relationship between frequency of family dinner and adolescent problem behaviors after adjusting for other family characteristics. J. Adolesc. 2010 Feb;33(1):187-96.
Eric R. Braverman, M.D.
Dr. Braverman is a Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brandeis University and NYU Medical School, did brain research at Harvard Medical School, and trained at an affiliate of Yale Medical School. He is acknowledged worldwide as an expert in brain-based diagnosis and treatment, and he lectures to and trains doctors in anti-aging medicine.