Sharing a meal together with my family around the table after a long day of school was the norm for me growing up. This habit continued on into my adult life by treating my friends like family and having them over for big family style dinners where we can catch up and share a great meal. The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB) has also proven the value of family meals in their latest study.1 They found family meals to be beneficial not only from the social benefits of interacting and bonding to the foundation of healthy eating with increased fruit and vegetable consumption.
Eating family meals has changed a lot for me since COVID-19 started and I have started taking increased safety precautions on the rare occasion I dine with my friends. In Asian culture, all meals are typically served family style with individual rice bowls but shared main entree plates and side dishes. We all dig in using our chopsticks, there’s no serving utensils. This has been no exception during my time here in Korea and if anything, it’s expected whenever eating with family or friends. However, the only way I feel comfortable dining with friends now is by setting out serving chopsticks and spoons for any shared dishes. This little added step to our usual dining routine isn’t so drastic that it disrupts the flow of our meal, but does a lot in reassuring us all we are doing what we can to be safe and still survive by having much-needed social interaction.
We’ve been impacted by COVID-19 for well over 9 months here in Korea, so this new style of dining has become our new norm. It’s times like now that we need to make sure we’re doing what we can to eat well, communicating with our people what we may need and doing what we can to keep safe while staying sane. Sharing a safe meal together is just one of the things on my list to do just that. September is not only National Family Meals Month, but also National Fruits and Veggies Month. There’s no better time than now to start (or continue) these healthy habits by learning more about the Family Meals Movement and adapting it to meet the needs of your family.
1 Robson SM, McCullough MB, Rex S, Munafò MR, Taylor G. Family Meal Frequency, Diet, and Family Functioning: A Systematic Review with Meta-analyses. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2020;52(5):553-564. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2019.12.012
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