Many cultures know that having meals together with loved ones is a nurturing event. Not only can we improve our health, but we can improve our minds and souls in the process. My love language is cooking with other people. I love to prepare a meal with my family and friends then sit down to enjoy the fruit of our labor after a word of thanks. It’s a spiritual experience for me and I want to share that experience with others. Even better when I can create a healthy experience out of it.
I want my family to be able to have a relaxing meal and avoid stress . Stress can negatively affect our digestion and having good digestion is important for our health. Preparing a meal for loved ones shouldn’t be a cumbersome activity and it’s important to bring the family together for an enjoyable nutritional experience. Not only do we need to see the importance of a good dining experience, but also to be aware of how our food intake can negatively affecting our mood. Our mind, body, and spirit have a much deeper connection than we realize and nurturing a balance between them can bring us into a more harmonious lifestyle. Not only can the food we eat help us to heal, but so can having family unity and love. We can be creating magical evenings if we’ll just set our minds and hearts to it.
Here are 11 ways to make the family meal a time of healing.
1. Make a plan: If you’re not accustomed to eating at the table on a regular basis, let the family know when you’re going to plan a ‘sit down’ meal for them. I understand that busy schedules don’t leave us time to sit down at 5 pm every night, but don’t let that stop you from planning a nice evening at least once a week. Plan your meals to be on the same nights, such as Sundays, lets the family know there’s a special meal that gathers them together. They’ll know in advance that they will be sitting across the table from one another and it could help them work out their differences before hand.
“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones..” ~Proverbs 17:22
2. Set the mood: Talk about the upcoming meal a week (or at least a few days) in advance. Let everyone know what’s being planned and how special the evening is going to be. Advanced notice of a joyful meal prepares their mood ahead of time. To make it extra special, let each family member take turns choosing the meal.
3. Ambiance: Customize a music playlist, make a floral arrangement, and light candles to create an ambiance for the gathering. You can enlist the children to help set the table special with bows made with twine around the napkins or place cards with fun doodles. Enlisting their help can create a team spirit to bring them closer together. Don’t use scented candles that would clash with the aroma of your meal.
4. Aromatherapy: Sautee crushed garlic, chopped onions, and chopped celery to create an aroma to fill the home. If your planned meal is breakfast instead of dinner, you can simmer some cinnamon, cloves, and apple slices in a small pan of water on the stove.
5. Seasoning the food with healing herbs and spices: Don’t over do the spices and sauces. Seasoning should be to enhance, not drown, the meal. Healing herbs and spices can be incorporated into your dish. Use fresh oregano and thyme from your garden in an Italian meal and fresh mint in your dessert.
6. Have purposeful conversations: Make sure the family knows to leave tension filling conversations for another time. This is a time to enjoy each other’s company over a nice meal. Encourage conversation that inspires and encourages. I often let my family know the health benefits of the ingredients I used in the meal. I think it’s good for them to know how healthy their food is while they’re enjoying it.
7. Don’t rush the meal: Eating slower helps avoid choking, burping, and indigestion. Having conversations can slow everyone down so they’re not eating too quickly. The more you chew, before swallowing, the more effective saliva can be at breaking down your food for better digestion.
“Health and cheerfulness naturally beget each other.” ~Joseph Addison
8. Stay at the table: Don’t let those who finish earlier leave the table. Let the kids know there is no race to get back to the television or video games. Enjoy each other’s company. Let your food settle over more conversation or use this time for some extra prayer. Does anyone have a prayer request? Let them know you care about their week and want to offer spiritual support.
9. Clean as a team: Assign each person a duty for clean up and make it fun. You can inspire team effort in clean up with a refreshing dessert that can only be had once the dinner is cleaned up. Turn on some music and sing together to keep everyone moving.
10. Give Thanks: Yes, give thanks after the meal. Thank everyone for coming together, give each other a hug, and let them know how important and meaningful the evening was to you.
11. Present the dessert: Dessert doesn’t have to be full of unnecessary calories. It can be as simple as a small bowl of strawberries or peaches with a drizzle of cream and honey.
Are there other ways you have made the family meal a special experience?