Encouraging Mindful Mealtimes at Home With Family
Mindful mealtimes can be a great opportunity to relax and reconnect with your families. During this national health emergency, many of us are spending a lot more time at home. Tensions and anxieties are higher than usual. And all of that can make the days feel longer and leave you feeling even more tired in the end.
Mealtime might seem like one more thing on a long daily to-do list, but if you’re able to flip your perspective a bit, it can actually become a very beneficial time for rest, relaxation, and bonding.
Start by setting the intention that mealtime is for disconnecting from the outside or online world and reconnecting with those we love most. Use this time to sit down as a family, turn off the TV, put away cell phones and video games, breath together, and connect and reflect on the day.
This can be harder than it sounds and takes practice and consistency. You might even find that it’s hard to hold a full conversation at first. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll find that the best discussions and family meetings might just happen at the dinner table.
A little bit of science on the health benefits of eating mindfully
Optimal digestion and absorption of nutrients happens when our bodies are in the parasympathetic nervous system state, not the fight or flight sympathetic state that is common for most of us these days. In short: We need to relax to get the most from our meals!
If you take the time to prepare healthy meals, you might as well receive the full benefits of absorbing their nutrients for cellular growth and recovery.
Our bodies also secrete hormones while we’re eating that cue us when we’re full. This can take anywhere between 20–40 minutes for most people. Eating on the run or while watching TV or catching up on emails overrides our body’s ability to secrete and sense these fullness signals.
This can actually cause us to overeat and prevent our bodies from digesting properly. Being mindful of not only what we eat, but how we eat can really make a difference in our overall health.
Once you understand the amazing health benefits that can happen over a shared family-style meal, you might find that meals become the most fun and important time of your family's wellness routine!