Sit Down to Eat.
I remember my mother reminding us to sit down to eat. Most of our meals were at the kitchen table. I think she was mainly worried about choking, but there are more reasons to sit down to eat. When our body is actively moving around, standing and doing different tasks, we are focused on action and divert energy away from tasks such as digestion. Healthy digestion requires us to take the time to sit, relax and be still during our meals. Physically and mentally.
Mindful eating also suggests that we focus on the task at hand, both our food and our behaviors around eating. Sitting down is one of the hardest for me. I will ask a child to sit to eat their snack, even if it’s just sitting on the floor at my feet while I fix dinner. All the while, I am popping blueberries into my mouth while standing and chopping vegetables. Sound familiar?
For this reason, I am writing about eating meals together in conjunction with sitting down. They seem to support each other.
Eat meals together.
Children learn so much from watching us. Mealtimes are a great time for modeling a variety of things including table manners. Plus, if you are eating a varied diet, they get more exposure to a variety of foods. Children are more likely to try new foods if they are familiar with them and see us enjoying them.
Mealtime is also a wonderful time to connect throughout the day at regular times. There is a reason for the saying “breaking bread together.” Eating similar food together on a regular basis brings us closer together and creates a common bond. In our families and our communities.
Some children take a long time for their meals. I really try to sit with them as long as possible, even when I get the urge to get up to start the dishes. I try to use this as an opportunity to practice my mindful eating and to slow down between bites. This may not be possible if you have several children you are helping, but please consider it. I think these children know intuitively that longer, slow meals are healthier for their digestion than quick five-minute ones.
This series started with Mindful Eating for Children.
This is excellent advice. As a child, we didn’t eat at the table most days during school. But in the summer, I looked forward to sharing meals with my large family. Now, as a mom, I “force” the whole family to eat meals together, except breakfast. It feels strange when we are not mindfully eating together.
Thank you, Joannie!