This article is too good to not share, and though much of his article is about physical health, there is much to be said about the well-being of a family who spends time together around the table.
I’m reading now Come to the Table by John Mark Hicks, as well as other books and articles about the foundations of the Eucharist, and the special significance of eating in the presence of God. Communion is nearly similar to the fellowship offering found in the Old Testament. The fellowship offering was a sacrifice, and a meal, in God’s presence, and meant to be a meal of peace and safety, and comfort and life in God’s presence. Those same things we find during communion. And while the communion meal is quite different from the fellowship offering in the Old Testament, the idea is the same.
And so I am praying about communion now, and trying to find a deep significance to this tradition of worship, and am finding the means of the common Eucharist to be far from the biblical intent. Communion is about joy and safety and relationship. And it was a meal, a regular meal, that was not eaten in a moment or two of a worship hour.
And then I find this article that speaks of family mealtime, and the significance of it — how eating together, as a family, can help your physical health and emotional health. Those things we’ve heard, but the author of this article, Dr. Mark Hyman, has put research with these claims. Reading through it, I was fascinated by how much of what was written here sounds like what we find in communion. Health. Peace. Relationship.
So read this article while thinking about two things. One, think about your own family, and the time you spend together, and the food you eat, and the health you all have because of your diet. Our family made a couple of deliberate decisions, a few years ago, about what and how and where we ate. One, we decided to limit our meals in restaurants to once a week. The other decision was to eliminate all processed foods from our diet, as well as any food preservatives. Those decisions were among the best we’ve ever made.
And also as you read, think about what this article says about relationships and health, and how that may relate to communion. When church comes together to eat, in God’s presence, in safety and peace, shouldn’t that be a time of rejoicing and celebration? And wouldn’t you want that to last longer than just a four minute allotting in a worship order?
How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life
Dr. Mark Hyman
The slow insidious displacement of home cooked and communally shared family meals by the industrial food system has fattened our nation and weakened our family ties. In 1900, 2 percent of meals were eaten outside the home. In 2010, 50 percent were eaten away from home and one in five breakfasts is from McDonald’s. Most family meals happen about three times a week, last less than 20 minutes and are spent watching television or texting while each family member eats a different microwaved “food.” More meals are eaten in the minivan than the kitchen.
Research shows that children who have regular meals with their parents do better in every way, from better grades, to healthier relationships, to staying out of trouble. They are 42 percent less likely to drink, 50 percent less likely to smoke and 66 percent less like to smoke marijuana. Regular family dinners protect girls from bulimia, anorexia, and diet pills. Family dinners also reduce the incidence of childhood obesity. In a study on household routines and obesity in U.S. preschool-aged children, it was shown that kids as young as four have a lower risk of obesity if they eat regular family dinners, have enough sleep, and don’t watch TV on weekdays.
We complain of not having enough time to cook, but Americans spend more time watching cooking on the Food Network than actually preparing their own meals. In his series, “Food Revolution,” Jamie Oliver showed us how we have raised a generation of Americans who can’t recognize a single vegetable or fruit, and don’t know how to cook.
The family dinner has been hijacked by the food industry. The transformations of the American home and meal outlined above did not happen by accident. Broccoli, peaches, almonds, kidney beans and other whole foods don’t need a food ingredient label or bar code, but for some reason these foods — the foods we co-evolved with over millennia — had to be “improved” by Food Science. As a result, the processed-food industry and industrial agriculture has changed our diet, decade by decade, not by accident but by intention.
That we need nutritionists and doctors to teach us how to eat is a sad reflection of the state of society. These are things our grandparents knew without thinking twice about them. What foods to eat, how to prepare them, and an understanding of why you should share them in family and community have been embedded in cultural traditions since the dawn of human society.
One hundred years ago all we ate was local, organic food; grass-fed, real, whole food. There were no fast-food restaurants, there was no junk food, there was no frozen food — there was just what your mother or grandmother made. Most meals were eaten at home. In the modern age that tradition, that knowledge, is being lost.
The sustainability of our planet, our health, and our food supply are inextricably linked. The ecology of eating — the importance of what you put on your fork — has never been more critical to our survival as a nation or as a species. The earth will survive our self-destruction. But we may not.
Common sense and scientific research lead us to the conclusion that if we want healthy bodies we must put the right raw materials in them: real; whole, local; fresh; unadulterated; unprocessed; and chemical-, hormone- and antibiotic-free food. There is no role for foreign molecules such as trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup, or for industrially developed and processed food that interferes with our biology at every level.
That is why I believe the most important and the most powerful tool you have to change your health and the world is your fork. Imagine an experiment — let’s call it a celebration: We call upon the people of the world to join together and celebrate food for one week. For one week or even one day, we all eat breakfast and dinner at home with our families or friends. For one week we all eat only real, whole, fresh food. Imagine for a moment the power of the fork to change the world.
The extraordinary thing is that we have the ability to move large corporations and create social change by our collective choices. We can reclaim the family dinner, reviving and renewing it. Doing so will help us learn how to find and prepare real food quickly and simply, teach our children by example how to connect, build security, safety and social skills, meal after meal, day after day, year after year.
Here are some tips that will help you take back the family dinner in your home starting today.
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.
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 than10 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.
To learn more tips for taking back the family dinner and using your fork to effect change in our world visit www.drhyman.com.