Healthy Food Guide (Australia)
BRING BACK THE JOY IN EATING
Eating is one of life’s great pleasures, but for many of us it’s a source of stress. HFG dietitian Karissa Woolfe reveals four ways to rekindle the joy of eating.
Eating is one of life’s great pleasures, but for many of us it has become a source of stress. HFG dietitian Karissa Woolfe reveals four ways that we can rediscover the joy of eating in our dining rooms
What are the words that come to mind to describe your family mealtimes — rushed, organised, chaotic or fun? Maybe not fun.
More than 1000 Australians were asked earlier this year how they felt about cooking dinner. Sixty-two per cent said deciding what to cook was stressful — and that catering for ‘special diets’ was the number one stress factor involved. Just over half thought cooking dinner was more stressful than going to work, while 30 per cent would rather clean the bathroom than cook for their household.
In fact, having to deal with fussy eaters, cope with special diets and create a menu the whole family will like can make preparing a meal much more stressful than it should ever be.
Here are four no-fuss ways that will help you take the feud out of family food and restore the joy of eating to your table. As they say in France — “bon appétit!”.
1 Set the right tone
Researchers at the University of Illinois found family meal times that are distracted by the loud sounds of a vacuum cleaner can put children at risk of obesity. How? The cacophony distracts parents from noticing when children are full. And equally importantly, it interrupts mealtime conversation, which is associated with a healthier weight. On the positive side, a study carried out by Cornell University found that eating in a relaxed environment can help you lose weight and increases your enjoyment of food. In the study, dimming the lights and playing mellow background music meant that diners ate 730kJ (175cal) less. Brin bac th jo
Set the table with place mats, serviettes, a candle or even some fresh flowers. Dim the lights and play a little gentle background music.
2 Ban technology
You only have to look around a busy restaurant to see how technology gets in the way of good dinner-time conversation. Gadgets distract you from eating mindfully, which can lead to overeating.
Studies show the conversations you have around the dining table help families connect better, and can even prevent teen pregnancy and dementia! Brin bac th jo
Declare the dinner table a TV and phone-free zone (emergencies excepted, of course). Encourage everyone to talk about their day at work, home or school, and what’s coming up.
3 Tune into your senses
In the rush to get everyone ready to travel from point A to B, or in the hustle and bustle of cooking and dishing up, it’s easy to find yourself eating on the go, in the car or at the desk.
Speed eating robs your taste buds of the joyous opportunity to fully savour the fl avour and really taste your meal. It also tends to leave your tummy grumbling, with several studies linking mindless eating to overeating and weight gain.
Research also shows we get a lot of satisfaction from how a meal looks on the plate, its different colours, textures, arrangement and aromas. Brin bac th jo
Make mealtimes a sensory experience. Enjoy your meal slowly, first with your eyes, then your nose, and finally your mouth.
4 Share the joy
Dishing up healthy meals to please everyone night after night can be a challenge. Signs of chef’s fatigue include difficulty deciding what to cook, impulse supermarket purchases and opting for takeaways.
Many hands make light work, so if the joy of cooking for your family has morphed into a ‘job’, it’s time to turn it once more into a positive experience. Brin bac th jo Ask each family member to nominate a favourite ingredient or dish that will appear on the menu during the week. And then recruit them to help with cooking, setting the table and of course, cleaning up!