Nutrition Month: Why you need to stash your devices at mealtime

We are indeed living in uncertain times and with this year’s Dietitians of Canada Nutrition Month theme of More than Food, it’s a perfect opportunity to get   back to basics and give mealtime a makeover. As many families have long been living life in the fast lane – what with work, after school activities and the like – sitting down together to enjoy meals has been a luxury. Now with social distancing, family meals, for the time being, can once again become the norm.

The health benefits, both physical and emotional, of sitting down and breaking bread together, are well documented. But there’s one wrench that can be thrown into the mix and have various consequences: devices such as smart phones and tablets.

Just a week ago – it’s hard to believe it was just that as it seems like a month ago!  –  I was going to write about the perils of using contaminated smart phones while eating. You take a bite of food, then touch your screen and repeat and at the same time, up your risk of getting ill.

In the span of just days, though, we’ve gone from carrying out normal everyday activities to almost cocooning in our homes (some are already self-isolating).

But even if you aren’t venturing outside, consider banning your devices from the dinner table. While we want to keep in touch with the outside world more than ever, don’t do it during mealtime. Sitting together without interruptions gives us a chance to reconnect – to share our feelings and fears and also enjoy each other’s company – without distractions.

Check out this video which is especially relevant now.

There’s another aspect to banning devices at the dinner table. Do you really need to see yet another news alert and hear about the ever-climbing numbers of those with Covid-19 while you’re trying to eat?

Our stress levels are already through the roof – we don’t need to add to them.

Instead take the time to appreciate your food AND those around you. If you’re on your own, if you do turn on the TV, go for mindless programs or simply eat mindfully.

Do bring your devices into the kitchen, though. Use them to find interesting recipes to whip up with options that have been hanging around your pantry and freezer. Or watch some cooking classes online as chefs reveal their home cooking secrets on sites such as Instagram. If you have kids, consider some fun ways to serve meals. How about turning the kitchen into a restaurant with young servers or chefs?

Instead of your usual pasta dinner, what about getting your youngsters to set up a pasta bar where each person selects their own toppings? There are many ideas out there that can help to bring families together.

Home cooking may indeed be back. Let’s enjoy it.

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Categories: Children's Health, Nutrition Month

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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