I am often guilty of rushing through my day and not planning time to prepare and eat my food. On those days, what I am eating is an after thought; I just need something quick and easy – to sustain me. Unfortunately, this is where we get into trouble. In these instances we are generally doing something else while we are eating and/or eating prepackaged and heavily processed foods. I rarely eat prepackaged meals, but I have been known to eat while walking somewhere or sitting at my work desk. Sadly, almost 40% of families eat dinner with the TV on.
The importance of having mealtime comes up in at least one of Michal Pollan’s books (they call blur together for me). And meal time should be a time where people sit together and socialize over food and not in front of a TV or while you are working. It’s not always possible, but last night I experienced a wonderful dining experience that really brought this point home for me.
I went to a restaurant with my friend Denise. We talked for a while, and then the waiter took our drink order. After a while longer he came back and we ordered dinner and he left us with bread. We talked as we ate our meals and drank our wine. Neither one of us ordered too much food but we ate slowly because we were talking. Dinner wasn’t a race. We didn’t have the TV on and we didn’t check our phones every five minutes. We just enjoyed the food and the company.
Then almost three hours later we realized that we had been sitting at this table for almost three hours and that everyone else had left the restaurant. In contrast to the 10-15 minutes it takes me to eat dinner when I am home alone during the week (actually eating time, generally it takes me longer than that to prepare.)
This is what meal time should be. Eating should be a planned part of your day. You should make plans and put time and energy into what you are eating. Plans can include organizing times to eat with other people or picking out recipes to cook at home.
We have transformed into a culture, where food is an after thought and we no longer value the food we eat or the relationships we build and foster over meals.
I can’t wait for our next dinner date.